I'm a graduate of Portland State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese Language. After graduating in 2012, I moved to Japan to further study Japanese and teach English to children and adults for three years. I love getting students excited about Japan and helping them untangle the challenging Japanese language. Students and I tend to have a lot of fun practicing pronunciation and studying kanji together. When I'm not tutoring, I like to read Japanese novels and comics, listen to music, cook, play video games and walk my dog.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is "learn while laughing!" Learning a language can be daunting, but it can also be surprisingly humorous. Using amusing mnemonics, observing and commenting on cultural differences, or watching comedies in your target language are great ways of having fun while learning. Laughing helps reduce stress and makes for a smoother learning process.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The first session with a student is important for figuring out what their current level is and what their goals are. If they're brand new to studying Japanese, I'll ask them questions in English about their interests and what prior knowledge they might have about Japanese culture. If they know some Japanese already, I'll ask similar questions in Japanese and English to somewhat gauge their level.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The most important thing for self-study is a variety of resources. In order for my student to become independent, I want to arm them with online and print resources to help them maximize their study time. As I have been self-taught for the last 5 years myself, I have plenty to share with them, along with helpful tricks and techniques.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
It depends on the student, but in my experience teaching English, I've found that praising a student and not criticizing them too heavily helps them stay motivated and encourages them to keep studying. Other students have seen my own personal achievements as something they want to strive for as well.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
It depends on how important the skill or concept is. If it's something trivial, the last thing I want to do is have my student focus on it while neglecting the rest of their studies. Should that be the case, I'd tell them not to worry about it and come back to it later. If it's a really important concept, where lack of understanding it would be a great hindrance, I'll spend extra time with them and try a variety of methods to help them break through and get a grasp on the concept in their own way.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
One of the most important things to do with a new student is build rapport and make sure they understand that I'm there to help, not judge and criticize. Having that level of trust early on is crucial. After that, I try to find ways of gauging their overall language ability and work from there.