I am most recently a graduate of the University of California - Berkeley Extension Teaching English as a Second Language program; however, prior to that I had completed both a BA in German and International Studies as well as a MA in Political Science. These two degrees were completed at Dickinson College and the University of North Carolina (with stints at Charles University in Prague and Humboldt Universityi n Berlin), respectively. As this may demonstrate, I love to learn. In addition to that, I love to use the information and skills I learn to help others.
This passion has led me to combine a full time job, working as an international student advisor with part time work as a teacher and tutor. This love of teaching stems from my time as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in eastern Germany, where my work as a teaching assistant, tutor and English instructor for kindergarten made a tremendous impact upon me. I loved it and I loved seeing what a difference I could make. I am also a naturally social and energetic person, so I love work that keeps me involved.
In addition to the tutoring and guidance I provide the students at my college (English, cultural norms, U.S government regulations), I also volunteer as a tutor for students preparing for the U.S citizenship test. Previously I have done volunteer teaching at several non profit organizations teaching English to new immigrants to the United States.
From this statement, you can probably see that the majority of my experience lies in teaching and tutoring English at all levels. I have worked with kindergarten children up to retirees and with beginners up to advanced speakers completing graduate level studies in the United States. I am passionate about language and culture and have studied German since 1992, so am happy to help new learners of German with their studies as well. And finally, with my background in International Studies and Political Science, I have developed strong writing and editing skills, which I'm happy to put to work!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Dickinson College - Bachelors, German and International Studies
Graduate Degree: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Masters, Political Science and Government
Languages, Travel, Reading, Cooking, Baking, Gym/Swimming
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is to make it relevant and to make it dynamic. Students need to connect with the material and process it in the way that works for them.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In the first session, I would determine what the student's goals are, and then ascertain where they are in regards to reaching that goal. Additionally, I would work to create a comfort level with the student so he/she is willing to make mistakes around me. This is especially important when learning a language.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I think the best way to make a student an independent learner is to make the topic interesting and relevant for the student. Find what interests the student and find the connection. The student needs to know how it connects with reaching his/her goals.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Patience and positivity. Making the tutoring time not just "work," but enjoyable. Laughter, activities, interesting readings, videos - keep it active and make sure the student is aware of the progress he/she is making. One of the most common ways to lose motivation is to feel we are not moving forward.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would try to present the information in a different manner or break it down into smaller parts, depending on the skill/concept. I've had some students where it took three or four different tries before I found the method that worked for them.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
It would depend upon the specific situation (native English speaker, age, length of item he/she is having issues with, topic covered), but in general I would begin by teaching them how to break the reading down. I would review how to read paragraph by paragraph and pull out key words. Depending upon the situation, I may also have them read aloud, listen to me read or act out passages for them.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The most successful strategy is to establish a good relationship built upon trust. If the student is comfortable working with the teacher/tutor, that will allow him/her to be open about any problems/concerns and be willing to make mistakes and push him/herself.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would make it relevant and connect it with something they are interested in. Especially in the current day, there are some amazing multi-media options out there, so you can make the session incredibly dynamic.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
It depends upon the material, but there are a variety of ways. There are the traditional tests, but you can often discern if a student has learned something through conversation. This could be a question and answer session done orally or perhaps asking the student to summarize a concept or demonstrate a skill. For example, for students of beginning German, it could be the ability to have a basic conversation regarding someone's background.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
The best way to build confidence is to make sure the student knows the progress he/she is making. Often they don't notice even the smallest improvements, and the teacher will. Make sure they are aware of this progress. Also, not to be repetitive, but this is where it is important for the student to be comfortable with the teacher and for the teaching environment to be dynamic and enjoyable.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
This depends upon the age of the student. In most cases, during the first session you can speak with the student to determine their goals and where they are in reaching those goals. This can be done through conversation or completion of exercises to see where the errors are occurring.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I would present the information in different ways. If a student is very active and does not want to sit doing written exercises, we can work with other methods - plays, videos, etc.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I usually use a variety of materials. I use books (textbooks as well as literature), online articles/newspapers, songs (and lyrics), videos, exercises (fill in the blank, listening exercises) as well as physical activities. An example of the last is using Duck, Duck, Goose with kindergarten children to teach them English animals. (And adapting the game a bit for other animals!).