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While receiving my double-major in Spanish and Political Science at Central College I lived abroad in Spain and Mexico - increasing my fluency of Spanish and deepening my knowledge of the two Spanish-speaking cultures. After graduating, I lived as a resident ESL and Life Skills teacher for refugee families just entering the United States and also traveled extensively throughout Latin America as a student of life and language. My life partner is from Mexico, so he and I get to play with two languages everyday as well! My current work as a homeless shelter host in Portland, Oregon also allows me to engage clients in Spanish every time I work. I consider myself lucky to be able to use and develop my languages at work and in the home, as the refining process of learning a language is my favorite part of being bilingual!

Whether it is English or Spanish I am speaking, sharing my passion for language is an innate character of mine that propels my teaching philosophy. Learning a new language or refining one already known can open up an entire new world to a student. It not only makes one more qualified and desirable to employers, but also enables one to include oneself in the innerworkings of an entire cultural context! Traveling or living in a foreign country that speaks one's second language becomes an enriching and eye opening experience instead of being left in the dark. I love invigorating tutoring sessions with applicable life skills that engage not only the language being learned, but also the associated culture. My experience in teaching Spanish and ESL ranges from 5 year old refugee children that can neither read nor write, to young immigrant mothers with a slight grasp of English, to fluent English speakers who want to hone their Spanish speaking skills.

When I am not attempting to conjugate verbs in the subjunctive tense in Spanish, one can find me running on trails, doing yoga, creating a crowd funding website for trail runners, reading about Eastern and philosophy, tending a vegetable and herb garden, riding my 1980s bike, drinking too much coffee, cooking a new recipe, and spending time with loved ones. In all I do, I aspire to inspire, create, and give gratitude. I like to live by the words of a favorite poet, Rumi, ''With Life as short as a half-taken Breath, don't plant anything but Love.''

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Sara’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Central College - Bachelors, Spanish and Political Science


Running, yoga, hiking, cooking delicious food, exploring Portland, pushing the limits!

Tutoring Subjects

College English

Conversational Spanish



High School English

Homework Support




Spanish 1

Spanish 2

Spanish 3

Spanish 4


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Remain open and flexible. Each student is unique and already holds the key to his or her own success! A teacher is merely a steady and firm guide in finding those innate abilities.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

We will get to know each as teacher and student. We will talk about what your interests outside of the subject are and work together to incorporate those interests into your learning for a more holistic, practical learning experience. We will talk about teaching methods that have and have not worked for you in the past. We will also discuss any fears or expectations you may have for this subject.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Ignite passion for the subject within them! I will make the subject they are learning relevant to their daily lives.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

We will always keep the student's established personal and educational goals at the helm of our sessions. We will also constantly re-evaluate where the student is psychologically and emotionally to assure that the student' needs are met so that his or her full attention can be on learning. I also will create dynamic and varied lessons and activities that incorporate real life situations as well as the student's curriculum.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

Stop, clear the space of any negative or frustrated energy, regroup both of our energies, then discuss what is or is not working for the student. From there we will approach the skill or concept from an angle the student can identify with.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

I like to build a huge, solid base of vocabulary, have them read books they can finish and understand so there is a sense of accomplishment, and also use repetition as a learning tool.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

Make learning fun and relevant!

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I will help them see the necessity and usefulness of the subject in his or her present day activities. I will show the student the perks of knowing a second language and create engaging and fun experiences that affirm that fact.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I like to have students explain a concept or analyze a certain subject in their own words or through writing a short paragraph. I also will create weekly review tests to ensure comprehension. It is also important to have the student link together subjects and concepts they are simultaneously learning so that the student's grasp of the subject is multifaceted instead of linear and only repetition based.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

It is important to know a student' limits and weaknesses in order to give them appropriate testing and learning material. If the material is just beyond his or her comprehension, the student may become disengaged. The trick is to balance achievement with challenge.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Ask them! Be aware of how the student processes and reflects back information. If the students has a lot of physicality, we go outside and engage with our surroundings in order to learn! If the student seems to be focused in a quiet and homey environment, I make sure to meet in such an environment and make some tea or coffee! I also hope to make contact with the student's teachers, guardians, or parents so that we can collaborate on the student's apparent and non-apparent needs.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

I never stop evaluating the amount of focus and attention a student is giving me. If his or her focus is waning, I pull another method or activity out of my pocket and engage the student immediately! I also continue to educate myself about different teaching methods so that I can better serve the most unique students.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

We will use videos, worksheets, listening activities with no visual prompts, online games, discussions of comprehension, the writing of papers, pre-made dialogues, books, non-computerized games, and physically engaging activities (i.e. like cooking food that is culturally relevant to our subject, going to a Hispanic supermarket, ordering tacos at a food cart, volunteering together at a location where mostly Spanish is spoken, going to a Spanish conversation hour, etc...).

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