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Great Resource for learning English and foreign languages

Duolingo is a free website and mobile app for language learning. Lessons include translating sentences, identifying objects, repeating words and much more. It is a useful tool that I have been having a lot of fun with lately. I recommend to check it out if you are studying English as a second language, foreign languages, or you enjoy learning in your free time. 

ESL and You: The Basics

What is ESL?   ESL stands for English as a Second Language. While this has been the standard acronym for years, there are other acronyms that are associated with this particular field.    ELL - English Language Learner - This refers to students in ESL programs. Generally, it is an umbrella abbreviation for any learner of English whose native language is not English.    TEFL - Teachers of English as a Foreign Language - This refers to instructors who teach ELLs. You will commonly see this abbreviation used more than others. See also TESL and TESOL.   TESL - Teachers of English as a Second Language - Refers to ESL instructors.   TESOL - Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages - Refers to ESL instructors.    ESOL - English for Speakers of Other Languages - This actually refers to the English language itself; not the instructor.  Now that we have the basic acronyms out of... read more

WHY BOTHER TELLING ANYBODY ANYTHING?

Where are you? Bottom of a mountain? Half-way up? Probably don't need a boost or a climbing partner. What's so grand about a very large rock?   I've been there. It's pretty neat. You can see the stars through daytime blue. You can see things in colors and sizes not even the best climbers have seen yet. What's the big thing? Ice freezes your wrists and thighs, it's hard to talk to each other through the wool covering your mouth, a lot of people have died up here. Well, let me tell you... I've climbed a lot in a lot of different countries, but from this mountain, I found the sun. The sun is not round, it is a war, orange fire, flares of white yellow.   That's it, actually. Didn't really find anything else here. Chicken soup. An interesting rock. A flag bent over in a drift. But the sun at altitude bears you backwards, breathless. If from this high mountain, you could see the sun as it is, alive, piercing, shuddering with temperature, what's... read more

Make yourself a good tutor

An article on math education in the NY Times (July 23, 2014) wrote this about our teacher quality and resulting education: " In addition to misunderstanding math, American students also, on average, write weakly, read poorly, think unscientifically and grasp history only superficially." I would like to focus on my area of English: writing and reading. The article discussed teacher training and techniques to improve teaching results. I would like to add that for us tutors also, techniques to present our subjects are critical to help students. Some tutors are former or current professional teachers; others may be retired people from business, housewives earning extra money, college students, or even working professionals in various fields. It's fine to teach business skills to graduate students if you are an executive, swimming to children if you are a swimming coach, or history to high schoolers if your major is history. Yet, simply tutoring in your major field... read more

Twitter? On-line Tutoring? Short Sessions? Yes, Yes, Yes!

Howdy, dear readers!   If you are reading this, you probably found me through WyzAnt.  Fantastic!  WyzAnt has connected me with great students, and I'm happy to continue my partnership with WyzAnt.  What you might not know is that there are lots of ways to work with me to get the study help you need.  If you need a little help, consider on-line tutoring for 15 or 30 minutes.  If you send me the question in advance, I can offer a short tutoring session for specific inquiries.  If you are a registered WyzAnt student (with payment information on file), I can connect you to my Twitter account and my other on-line resources.  Billing can be done through WyzAnt.  Easy, right?   Academic success is as much about your habits and discipline as it is about having the right resources to help you succeed.  Let me help you by sharing my knowledge and resources.   Happy learning!    

Practicing for IELTS Speaking

Practicing for the speaking part of the IELTS English proficiency exam is daunting, to say the least. There are so many elements of a good speech that you have to remember to score the necessary band to get into your English-speaking university of choice. If you are not sure where to start, take a look at these tips: 1.) Don’t worry so much about your speed. More important are your abilities to speak without grammatical mistakes and to have few pauses or hesitancies in your speaking. Pronunciation is also negatively affected by speaking too quickly. So slow down, and concentrate on making yourself understood. 2.) Choose your higher-level vocabulary carefully. Many students end up sounding like they are living 150 years ago because their vocabularies are so formal. Choose a few (about three or four) words that are higher-level in your interview to use. Don’t overdo it. 3.) Use transitions. The flow of ideas from one part of the speaking prompt to another... read more

Don't forget the Humanities!

I recently came across this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, urging college professors to fight grade inflation in the Humanities. As a college-level Instructional Assistant, I see this all the time. Students feel that their grade in their Anthropology course should reflect only effort and completion, not the content and understanding. This a trend that is not seen in the STEM fields as readily. As a result, professors are pressured to do just that; grade distribution in nearly all humanities classrooms do not follow a standardized bell curve as they might in a science or math classroom.    This sort of behavior not only devalues the importance of the humanities in our society, but also puts our students at a disadvantage. The humanities (Reading, Writing, and the Social Sciences) not only teaches us valuable lessons about communication, and how to connect with other human beings, but allows as a venue to contextualize the STEM fields... read more

The Fascinating Arabic Language

With its elegant script, right-to-left orientation and ancient origins, the Arabic language holds a fascination for many. Here is a brief introduction:   The Arabic script The Arabic ‘alphabet’ contains 28 letters but, unlike English, there are actually two different orders that they are presented in. One is termed the abjad, and is similar to Hebrew, with each character representing both a letter and a number. The hija order puts characters that look the same together, and is used when ordering phonebooks and directories. Spoken Arabic: Language or languages? Spoken – or colloquial – Arabic varies so much between regions that there are legitimate grounds to classify each ‘dialect’ as a different Arabic language in its own right. The most widely recognized is the Egyptian language, spoken by 52 million Egyptians as a first language and a further 24 million as a second language. The popularity of the Egyptian language is fueled... read more

Learning is a Lifestyle

In my experience as an educator, certain factors are more intimately tied to academic success than others. The all-too-common assumption often made by those struggling in the classroom is that some students are born intelligent, while others are not. This assumption generally takes it for granted that intelligence is some innate property, with the unfortunate effect that those who feel they are less intelligent often feel discouraged and are tempted to give up. If you have struggled with the temptation to accept a failing or barely passing grade, then I hope I can offer you ways to improve! While it is true that different individuals possess different levels of intelligence, I have not found intelligence to be anything like the most important determinant of success. The reason that intelligence alone is insufficient for long term success is that just because a person has a quick mind, or can understand difficult material faster than the average person does not mean that she... read more

Displacement and Velocity

Displacement is the distance between the starting position and final position. It is the change in position. This might seem easy enough but one thing about displacement is that it is the net change in position. Meaning it doesn't matter the path you took, all that matters are the initial and final locations. So if you ran around a jogging track, and ended in the same place you started, your displacement would be 0.   Velocity tells us how fast an object is moving. It is described as the displacement divided by time. Going back to the track example, since your displacement is 0 in this situation, the average velocity would be zero. This is because velocity is a vector. It has both magnitude and direction. Take the direction away and you only have magnitude, in this scenario that gives us speed. Speed is different that velocity in that it is a scalar, it has no direction, only magnitude.

Challenging microeconomics problems

Economics is a tough subject.  It can be difficult to explain the more esoteric concepts, especially marginal cost.  As I was working with a student today, he had some difficulty understanding how I had arrived at an answer to a problem.  He seemed to have an easier time understanding the concept of average total cost of production, perhaps because of the fact that it is linked to a math concept that is highly familiar to him.  On the other hand, a strategy that worked well with this student was giving an example of what might happen to a specific business if specific things happened in a market.  This helped him to understand the concept of a decreasing cost market.    My next steps in tutoring economics will include providing visual aids for the concept of marginal cost, and possibly the concept of average total cost.

Are your standardized test scores lower than you expected?

Test anxiety can impact everyone.  However, with a few strategies, you can overcome these anxieties and excel on your next standardized assessment.   Should you guess? This is a choice you will need to make based on the assessment you are taking.  For certain tests, such as the Praxis, you are scored based only on your correct answers.  However, keep the guessing to a minimum. On the SAT, you lose 1/4 of a point for an incorrect answer, but if you leave it blank, you lose 1 point.  So guessing should be used as a last resort.  Obviously, you should not guess on too many questions. Which leads me to...   Should you omit questions? Only skip questions you find extremely difficult.  Use other strategies to help you determine if you can, in fact, answer these questions before omitting them.  However, do not spend too much time using these strategies, as time is limited.   Should... read more

Turning Math into Money $$

Averages: mean, median and mode. When in school, you use them to determine your grade. Sports fans understand them with batting averages, yardage per game, etc... What about how averages apply to working a job and making money, something most students can grasp?   If your income is commission-based, you can determine your average pay per week, month or year. If you have a business, you can use averages to determine what and when products and services sell the best. You can average your expenditures (food, housing, gas) to help create and stick to a budget.   Averages go beyond adding all the numbers and dividing by the number of numbers. How else can you apply it?

Bilingual Babies

I'm sure everyone has seen a commercial or heard a discussion on raising kids from a very young age to be bilingual. While many of these DVD and CD sets are marketing and capitalizing on our desire for our kids to be the shining star of their school, they really do have validity. Our brains are wired to best absorb language before the age of 5 and still ready to take on language up until the age of 8. Yet of course we don't start learning a second language until our brains have closed the doors on language absorption! So it's not your fault that you have to hire tutors like me to help with your Spanish classes...it's really the school's fault for not introducing language sooner! More and more families and school systems are finally coming on board though and creating bilingual schools, or at least exposing youngsters to a second language, and I couldn't be happier! Until I end up jobless because all our children have become linguistic geniuses...uh oh.    I... read more

Which College Is Right for You?

You’ve studied and you’ve prepared, but what comes next? Determining what colleges to apply to and attend is difficult as there are so many factors to consider. At Augmentus Tutoring, we aim to help you achieve your highest possible test scores that provide you with the ability to choose the school that is best for you. There are a multitude of considerations that contribute to this decision, including your goals and personality. We’ve narrowed it down to two top decision making factors: Size and Location. The benefits and considerations listed below are generalizations, so do not hesitate to reach out to a specific school to learn more about their programs. The size of the school affects the size of classrooms, size of athletic programs, and numerous other activities that will impact your overall experience. Attend a Big University Benefits that come with big colleges include a seemingly unlimited list of majors and minors, well-funded sports teams,... read more

Redlining for Digital Art Students.

When Redlining works for my students, I try to keep their stylistic choices in mind, even as I correct anatomy.   For those who don't know, Redlining is the process of drawing an informal sketch over another person's piece of art to point out and correct flaws, especially in anatomy. The sketch is usually in red, hence the name. However, as I often correct posing, rather than drawing over the original sketch, I set them side by side.   In this piece I not only corrected the pose and anatomy, but corrected the misuse of bandages to bind [which can be very dangerous, bruising and even fracturing ribs, and often causing permanent scarring] into a small leather riding corset.   In this piece I did two redlines. The first one simply corrects the anatomical structure of the picture, but the second one shows what I personally would consider better poses for the idea the artist was trying to portray.   In... read more

Preparing Your Profile

When preparing your profile, be sure to include not only your qualifications and previous achievements but also provide a statement on how you will assist your students. State what you will do in your sessions? Will you teach from a book? Will you provide visual materials? Will you use a computer or certain programs?    Presenting this information in the profile allows the students to instantly have an understanding on how you will teach your lessons. This avoids the need for back and forth emails and can help you get right to work.    Just a thought.........

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