I believe that anyone can learn another language. Sometimes, when learning another language seems too difficult, we need to reevaluate our expectations and make certain that they are, in fact, realistic. Language is dynamic, so learning a language should be dynamic too. We create meaning with language when we speak it and when we listen to it. Errors are essential to successful acquisition and, ironically, are a positive indication of progress. Native speakers make grammatical errors all of the time! Culture and dialect go hand-in-hand with language learning. Language cannot be divided up into its constituent parts and be learnt. Language is acquired through context, and meaningful interaction. Language is an exciting part of who we are.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Delaware - Bachelors, Spanish
Graduate Degree: University of Delaware - PHD, Linguistics
travel, animals, swimming, reading
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that every child can learn another language. I also believe that every child should learn another language. Languages open doors and give us the ability to help others. Helping others reach their full potential is my main pedagogical goal.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would find out why they have sought the help of a tutor in the first place. I would ask him/her what his/her expectations were. I would also do a diagnostic assessment to determine the student's proficiency level.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I would help the student find his/her strengths with respect to study skills. I would also scaffold him/her in this search so that he/she could eventually do this on his/her own.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I need to know what the student's interests are so that I can design materials that are relevant to his/her world. This is one of the major obstacles to motivation. Once language learning becomes relevant to him/her, he/she will stay motivated.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would present the concept in another context, through another medium, and/or combining these with other senses: sight, hearing, etc...
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would first have to determine what is lacking: is it a vocabulary issue? Is it a cultural issue? Is the student not interested in the subject matter? I would need to assess the underlying problem first.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Allowing the student to have a voice in the process is key. Involving the student in the design of the session is key. I have the expertise, but I am also flexible in allowing the student to have a say in what we do, and how we do it.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
First, I need to know what the student's interests are: sports, gaming, art, etc... I would align the language learning with those interests. If the student has the necessary background knowledge for a sport, for example, he/she will be able to read/listen about that topic in Spanish and get more out of it because he/she has the necessary schema for that sport. He/she will be able to guess the meaning of words, because he/she has the background knowledge of the concepts in his/her native language.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Comprehension checks that involve games, videos, etc. Activities that are engaging are the best to use for assessment, because they don't look like traditional tests.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Small victories build confidence. If a student is struggling with a concept, you need to go back to something that they DO understand and work with that for a while. Then, you gradually build on that knowledge, adding new material. That builds long lasting confidence.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
This is a combination of diagnostic assessment instruments and interview.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
This is a constant process. This could change during each session. Materials may need to change; presentation may need to change. Time on task may need to be adjusted. Sometimes if something is taking too long, you need to let it go and come back to it. This is an adaptive process and it depends on each individual student.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Video clips, YouTube videos, magazine/newspaper articles, websites, objects, posters--I believe in both alternative and traditional formats; it depends on the student.