In 2013 I graduated from Bangor University in the United Kingdom with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, German, and French and the British equivalent of Summa Cum Laude (called a First-Class Degree with Three Distinctions). I have lived, studied, and worked in five languages across nine countries. With a diverse, multicultural background and almost a decade of experience in working with children and adults in education, I have the skills and the passion to help you achieve your academic and linguistic goals.
I specialized in translation and interpretation at the University of Vienna in Austria and the University of Granada in Spain. I have worked since 2006 bilingually as a private tutor and classroom instructor for children and adults, teaching English-language and general academic skills. I operated as an educational ambassador for the British government from 2012–2013, speaking at public schools throughout North Wales about the importance of language learning. I currently freelance as an interpreter and technical editor. If impeccable language skills are you goal, I would be honored to help you in this area. I believe in patience, positive reinforcement, and constant affirmation in what is being done well.
Too many people never achieve their language-learning goals because they are not presented with honest, realistic information. There is no magic formula to language learning. Much like staying physically healthy, learning and speaking a foreign language requires a life-style change. I can walk you through this change because I have walked through it many times and emerged successful on the other side.
A note regarding my availability: as I am a freelance interpreter, my schedule changes every week. You are more likely to find me consistently available in the late afternoon and evening. If you prefer a morning or early afternoon session, please ask as this is often possible.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Bangor University - Bachelors, Spanish, German, and French Honors
education, languages, second-language acquisition, bilingualism, international affairs, people
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in one hundred words of affirmation for one word of correction. Negative reinforcement does not work in my experience. The teacher is simply a facilitator. The best facilitators will awaken passion and motivation in their students.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
A realistic self-assessment and a keen self-awareness are important. I would obtain a clear picture of where a student is at, ascertain academic goals, and make sure that the student understands that X amount of work needs to take place in order to achieve stated goals.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Developing a study plan and sticking to it is key. How to learn is (at least) half of learning. I love helping people develop a passion and curiosity for what they are learning. This aids independent study.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
When it comes to language learning, relevancy is key. If there is no need to use a foreign language in your daily life, you likely will not learn it well. For this reason, I would encourage any student to engage in his or her community in a way that enables him or her to use the foreign language. Volunteering with refugees, finding a language buddy at a community college, or visiting a local church are great ways to make friends in your foreign language. I guarantee that if you develop meaningful relationships in a foreign language, you will improve dramatically.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The answer to the question must be based on the specific skill or concept that is presenting difficulties. In language learning, often a student simply needs to see enough examples in wide enough contexts for the concept to be solidified. Sometimes it is simply a question of memorization.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
By reading of course! If a certain level of text poses difficulties, it is important to assess where the problem lies (vocabulary, structure etc.) and work from there. I would find a text where a student is challenged but sees success within reach, and work up in difficulty level. In English we say, "practice makes perfect." In German we have a more honest and encouraging turn-of-phrase: "es’ ist noch kein meister vom himmel gefallen" (“no master is yet fallen from the sky,” it means masters are made, not born.)
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
It is essential that grammar concepts be learned and internalized as early as possible. I consistently encourage students to master grammar at the outset. Beyond that, I have many strategies and approaches to integrating language learning into your daily life. You need not always think of it as something to set aside time for. Incorporate!
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
When it comes to a foreign language, make it relevant! If you have living, breathing contact with a language in a way that is personally meaningful to you, you will learn it well. When a student struggles to stay excited about a foreign language, I strongly encourage community involvement that lets you use that language.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
If a student can consistently employ correct grammar and implement appropriate vocabulary in conversation, the material is understood! I do not shy away from translation-based learning. It helps students to be aware of differences between their native and foreign languages, thereby solidifying grammatical concepts and structural distinctions.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I build confidence through affirmation. Speaking a foreign language can be terrifying because of the potential for embarrassment. Constant affirmation builds confidence, which greatly affects the language-learning process. If you feel good about yourself, you will speak more. If you speak more, you will learn more!
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Needs and goals vary greatly between students. Some wish simply to pass a class. Others wish to use their languages to survive while traveling. Others need them for business. Sometimes there is romantic motivation. Each of these will affect the language-learning approach. I would ask each to student to be honest and straightforward about his or her needs and goals so we can learn as effectively as possible.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Textbooks are a necessary evil, but I prefer for time to be spent in conversation using and clarifying concepts learned by the student outside of the tutoring session. A dynamic interaction with the tutor will help to solidify what is accomplished on the student's own time.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Vocabulary must be approached based on individual needs and goals, be they academic, touristic, professional, or romantic. I prefer to focus on a student's strengths. Some students are partial to more textual learning, others more verbal. I seek to collect material that plays to a student's preferred learning style.