Hi, I'm Thomas L. and my specialties are English Language Arts, Social Studies (esp. history, government and politics), and Spanish, grades 3 through grad school. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pace University in New York City, with a Social Studies major and an Education minor. I grew up in New York and New Jersey.
I have a background from high school and college of academically excelling in all my courses in English Language Arts where I did well in vocabulary, spelling, syntax (verbal/written parallelisms for maximum clarity), and the full range of rules of grammar and grammatical construction. I also did coursework in the necessary components of good public speaking and prosody (the metrical and intonational aspects of both written and spoken language); also in the elements of great literature appreciation.
I studied in professional seminar the Romalda Spalding system of phonetic instruction, which puts particular emphasis on phonemic awareness and phonics study. For example: with the two words 'area' and 'through', the word "area" has only four letters, but three separate syllables (word sounds) so that we pronounce it 'air-ee-ah'; conversely, the word 'through' has a greater number, seven, of letters, but only one syllable (word sound): 'thru'. This always shocks first graders (easy to see why!), but it's good for maximal awareness of how language works.
With Social Studies, I take a biographical approach to the study of history and historical movements. My specialty is American and European history, although I have studied histories from around the world. I particularly stress a role-identification approach so that, for example, in studying Benjamin Franklin, we'll look at how, through his famous experimentation, he solved problems in physics to prove the existence of electricity; or, I'll have the students imagine themselves being appointed an ambassador to a foreign country (like Franklin was to France): what issues of each country would it be necessary to understand in order to be the best and most effective ambassador that one could be? And how would an ambassador-to-be best inform her- or himself?
Regarding Spanish, I studied Latin for four years (French for three) in high school which gave me a great foundational platform for my later study of Spanish in sabbatical in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for almost two years. I am an auto-didact (self-teacher) in Spanish: I taught myself by cracking a few grammar books and engaging in daily conversational practice with many (gratefully patient, especially at first) residents of the great Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. I am currently at a 60% fluency level.
In my teaching of Spanish, I focus on introductory and intermediate levels for students. I especially focus on vocabulary as the basic "building blocks" of the language and proceed right away to the distinction between the true and the false cognates. A true cognate is a word that is spelled the same in and means the same thing in both languages, for example: the word "color". It's spelled the same and means the same thing in both languages; only the pronunciation differs: the first syllable emphasized in English (CO-lor), the second (co-LOR) in Spanish. But then you have "los amigos falsos" (literally "the false friends") cognates, where they APPEAR to be true cognates, but upon further examination, really aren't, just the opposite in fact, so they can be quite misleading and are the true stumbling blocks to really learning the language which, if mastered, make the sailing much easier. For example: the Spanish word 'exito' is not the English word exit (for which another Spanish word, 'salida', applies): 'exito' in Spanish means 'success'. Cracking these false cognates means one is really starting to learn the language.
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