Teaching has been my passion ever since I started gathering my dolls in a 'classroom', and taught them how to read. This was long before I could read!
It is no wonder that I graduated from High School at an institution that included Elementary School teaching training as part of its curriculum.
In college, I majored in ESL, and Spanish was my minor. Since then, I have taught these languages to students of all ages and professions.
Learning a language is very much like building a house: it must start from the foundation! That is, the basics. From there, students keep on adding 'bricks' in a consistent way, until reaching the 'roof', their goal.
Even though quite a few students believe they know at least 'some' Spanish, or can get by speaking a broken English, if t hey are serious about becoming fluent in a foreign language, their basics must be solid, and there should be no gaps in their learning.
It is almost a cinch, there will be gaps in their knowledge that are like missing bricks on a wall. And I love helping students build a strong foundation, and go on from there to their goal!
I know! Grammar is boring, tedious. So, I do not teach it per se. However, grammar is the language! To make it 'painless', I do not use drills, but activities, dialogues, description of pictures, etc.
My approach to teaching is based on constant interaction, and having fun in class.
Undergraduate Degree: Instituto Superior del Profesorado - Argentina - Bachelors, ESL
Graduate Degree: Brigham Young University-Provo - Masters, Linguistics and Language Learning
China painting, crochet knitting, volunteering at pet shelters.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Over the years, my approach to language teaching has shifted from an emphasis on my teaching to a more central focus on student learning. In a one-on-one class, in particular, there has to be a co-creation between student and tutor. My students come to my classes with many levels of knowledge. It is my job to help them tap into their prior knowledge, compare it against what is presented in class, and use it as the basis on which to build a greater command of more complex structures. Students need first to internalize, and then to actively apply knowledge in creative and meaningful ways. I encourage the improvement of oral and written skills in all of my classes. Students are best served when they are actively engaged in the learning process. As a teacher, I guide them, but they should make consistent efforts to learn for the process to be successful. My classes are interactive, and I try to develop assignments that foster creative application of the language. The study of a language is imminently practical. Therefore, it should be practiced and applied by my students on a daily basis. By modeling good grammar and syntax, and showing a real enthusiasm for our subject matter, I believe I also teach the value of that subject. Some students, especially older ones, tend to be self-conscious and have a hard time producing the sounds of a foreign language. I strive to provide an environment where they feel comfortable and overcome their lack of confidence. Each student provides new challenges and opportunities for my own development as a teacher. These are the tenets of my teaching philosophy.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The practical thing to do is to start by evaluating the level of prior knowledge the student brings to class. I test that using basic question/answer exercises, inviting them to create a dialogue based on a drawing or picture, etc.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I strive to keep them interested in adding more to their vocabulary, structures, etc., showing them how they can apply that knowledge in their lives.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Exercise patience while looking for different ways of overcoming that difficulty. Sometimes, traditional 'solutions' do not work. Then, something unexpected, like bringing a mystery story to class, may be the key.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I do not have an A-B-C answer to this question. It depends on the student, the subject, and what the obstacles are. Having knowledge of what the student's interests are could help find a successful strategy.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would ask them to explain it in their own words.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
By having them practice consistently, and then use their knowledge in a creative way.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I teach adults. They come to me with a clear idea of what they want to accomplish.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Experience has given me flexibility and quick adaptation to individual needs and styles. We all learn in different ways, and every student has their own set of expectations. Those needs may even change from week to week. A teacher is always on her toes.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
The basics is a portable erasable white board. Besides that, it depends on what I am going to teach. It may be handouts with exercises, a book with reading material, pictures, etc.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I can inspire them, I can give them interesting material to study at home, etc. But, if they do not have the will to learn, I do not have control over what they do at home.