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Everyone tells me I teach from the heart. I never knew I do this, but I guess it's true. I'm passionate about wanting my students to learn so they will communicate better and feel more confident in their everyday life. I want my students to be able to progress, whether it's to find a job, continue their education, or reach other goals they want to accomplish.

I have been teaching ESL for 14 years to adults at a community college in North Carolina. I have also tutored privately in person, working with foreign students or their spouses. For six months, I worked as an ESL teacher assistant in the public school system, working with children from grades K-8.

My B.A. is in Communications. I majored in Journalism at the University of Miami. I taught ESL in Miami too for between 2-3 years. I earned my TESL Certificate at Duke University.

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Barbara’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Miami - Bachelors, Communications (Journalism)


I love to cook, with Hungarian cooking being my specialty. I love music, going to art festivals, the farmer's market, and reading, mainly fiction. I like to swim too, to go to the beach, and to spend time with my dog.

Tutoring Subjects

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Teaching ESL is very special in that it must encompass the four skills - speaking, listening, reading and writing. I strongly believe that it must lower the affective filter, that is, to make it a place for the student to feel comfortable enough to let go of his/her inhibitions in being able to ask questions and to contribute by not feeling that language is a barrier.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

A first session is a get-to-know-you session. It is the time for the teacher to ask questions about the student's goals in learning, and find what is most important so that the teacher will work toward achieving those goals. It's also a time to discuss when and how often meetings will take place.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Becoming an independent learner means giving the student resources and suggestions so that the student can take what he/she has learned and apply and reinforce it.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Staying motivated requires encouragement and praise. There will be times the student will feel frustrated, and these are the times where that encouragement and praise need to be repeated and reinforced.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

This is sort of my trademark, according to my students. When they don't understand something, I will find example upon example, using alternate methods until they get it. They all tell me how I'm one of those teachers that is so patient with them until they understand.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

By going back, taking it all apart, looking for key words, inferring, finding clues, and looking for the main idea.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

I try to find out how they think-- how they learn best. I'll give them verbal and written assessments to determine their level of understanding.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I look for online learning videos, along with realia from everyday life. For example, if we're learning about utensils or processes in cooking, I will bring along my egg beater and other tools, and physically show them what we are learning.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

One way is asking a student to tell me in their own words. I may ask them to give me examples, either verbally or in writing. I may also give them a quiz, or even dictation.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

Through praise. I will enthusiastically tell them how great they're doing. I may give them some incentive too, be it as simple as an emoticon sort of thing or even making up a certificate of accomplishment for them.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Questioning the student, or administering a needs assessment form are two techniques I use.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

By tailoring my tutoring to their needs. If I have misread these needs or see the needs change, I will alter the course of our tutoring, being flexible to change my lesson plan if something has come up to require me to do so.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

It all depends on what we are doing. If it's grammar and writing, I will give them cloze exercises, dictation, or a reading passage followed by questions. If it's a life skills topic, I will bring in life skills materials, such as a bus schedule or simulated checks to practice check writing.

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