Being a language learner myself, I know learning a second language is very difficult. I love to encourage and inspire my students in their learning. I believe that learning can take place through a variety of creative activities and methods. I have just returned to the states after living 20+ years overseas in Asia. My life has been so special because I have met so many people from around the world. People always ask me what was my favorite place to live, and I have to respond that I loved each city I lived in. Whether Hong Kong or Shanghai or Singapore or Chengdu or Beijing, they all were very enjoyable and enriched my life a lot.
My bachelors degree in Early Childhood Development as well as my Masters with classes in TESOL, has given me a deep foundation for my life in Asia. I've taught in many different situations - kindergartens, community centers and the University classroom - and they all gave me opportunities to help teach and encourage my students in their English language development.
I have just recently adopted a beautiful 8 year old girl and so she takes up most of my free time these days. However, my free time when I have it, includes walking, writing to my friends and learning how to cook Chinese food for my daughter.
I look forward to making new friends through Varsity Tutors and helping my students learn as much English language as possible.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that we need to be brave to learn a new language. I want to help encourage and inspire my students to be brave. I would hope to give a variety of ways to learn that would allow them success each session so they continue to be brave speaking and practicing their English speaking skills.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
This really depends on the level of English for each student. I would use the first session to get to know the student and allow them to get to know me. I would be curious about their background and their reason for learning English. Depending on age, I would probably try to think of non-threatening ways that we could get to know each other - through games and activities.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I would hope that there would be internal motivation for learning English and that this wouldn't be a problem. I would give optional assignments outside of the sessions in order for them to continue learning on their own. I always encouraged my students to be brave and speak up with people they meet in everyday activities. They never know who they'll meet or the opportunities they will get to practice their English speaking skills.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would continue to remind them that English will allow them to live in this world and be able to communicate in so many different settings and environments. Our world grows big when we know other languages. On a practical level, I would hope the activities during the sessions would help with their motivation as well.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would do my best to help teach them what they don't understand and give the practice sessions for helping them. If they still don't understand the concept or skill, I would research other ways that might help them learn and get back to them the following week.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Read something together and discuss the meaning together. I would start small with individual sentences and then small paragraphs and then larger chapters and/or stories. Possibly study the parts of sentences so they know how sentences are structured. This answer really depends on age and maturity, and how best to help the student.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I want the student to know that I believe in them and that I am here to help them succeed. They don't need to be embarrassed or shy around me. I want to offer a safe place for the students to learn and practice what they already know, and then move on from that place to learn more and more.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would hope to give them encouragement that they can succeed. I would remind them of the possibilities of success and what that would mean for them and their families. Depending on the student and the topic, we could find others whom it was difficult but then they later succeeded. For example, Helen Keller might be a great person to study or someone else from their own culture.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
For ESL, I would ask a lot of questions, or prepare examples to see if the student was understanding the material. I would also ask them to explain back to me the technique we were learning and see if it was correct.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
For ESL, I would probably ask the students to use what we have studied in that week's session. Could they go out and have a conversation with another person about what we learned? I would hope to give a variety of activities that would give success at communication and therefore increase the student's confidence.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I would hope to evaluate a student's needs by listening carefully to their spoken English. Where are the places that are not fluent and where can I help them improve? I would also ask them directly “where are the places you need help?” Evaluation would also come by the question and answer sessions, and if we needed to do work in specific areas of ESL.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I would ask them directly what is their preferable method to learning. I could also evaluate after a few sessions if something was working or not. I would make sure the student knows they can speak openly to me and let me know when something isn't helpful for their learning. I would primarily listen to their spoken needs and teach accordingly, although I might suggest alternative methods to meet their needs.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I would use a variety of materials during our sessions. However, we could have a book to use that would offer topics for us to speak and learn English. I think role plays are effective as well as asking good questions for helpful spoken language learning.