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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

One of my favorite French resources is an app called Duolingo. Duolingo is free and it provides an easy way to track your progress and set goals for yourself. It's set up like a game and you win points for correct answers, and you can 'compete' with your friends at different levels. It also requires that you "strengthen your skills", which keeps your memory fresh and up to date by having you repeat certain parts of a lesson that you haven't encountered within a certain period of time. Duolingo is a great supplementary resource to go alongside formal classes, tutoring, or self-instructed study, and it's really fun and even addicting! Even as a fairly fluent French-speaker, I enjoy the vocabulary and grammar games because they help keep me engaged in learning and remind me of vocabulary words that I don't often use. I've also used it to start developing a basic vocabulary in German, Spanish, and Italian. Duolingo is available in French, German, Spanish, Italian, and... read more

On this website you can find books and texts in different languages with their literal translations into English and brief linguistic comments, These texts are structured on the basis of a special method, by Ilya Frank. Its main principle is that a text is divided into excerpts that you can read twice: the first time – with the English translation inserted into it in brackets and afterward – with no translation.  It's a great source. I've tried it for other languages and it really works. Here is a link for Russian language: http://english.franklang.ru (List of languages is on the left side).    BBC Languages ~~ http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/russian Basics. A Guide to Russian: Facts, key phrases and the alphabet in Russian. No grammar.    BBC Russian.com Russian service provided by the BBC   http://www.gramota.ru Website in Russian. Great website. Explanation of Russian grammar, Forum -... read more

These FUNNY cartoons are very easy to understand and are helpful for those who just started to study Russian or who is trying to improve it ~~~ http://www.youtube.com/show/mashaimedved ~~~ It's about Masha, a troublemaker little girl & her friend Bear. You don't have to speak Russian very well to understand these cartoons. Check them out, you won't regret it! It's a fun way to learn Russian! Let me know what how do you like them :)

A tip I often give my students who are studying Spanish is to watch English-language DVDs with the Spanish subtitles on. It's probably best to start with a movie or show you have seen before and with which you are familiar with the basic plot and dialogue. As you watch the movie or show (in English), read the subtitles as you go. Stop the DVD or go back and take notes about the way the English dialogue is rendered into the language you are studying. You will find that you pick up many new idiomatic expressions this way, as well as getting to review the grammar of the language you're learning in action!   Take notes about any phrases or forms that strike you s particularly creative and also phrases or forms with which you are unfamiliar. Bring a list of new phrases to your tutor, along with the English dialogue being translated. You'll be surprised at how creative subtitle writers can be!   

My current job is at a chocolate shop.  My experience there seems inapplicable to my future career, however important lessons are all around us. For example, my Spanish has vastly improved since I've been working at Compartes.  Many of the employees are monolingual Spanish, and clear communication on the job is highly necessary.  I can communicate with my coworkers.   Language Goals: Become fluent in Spanish. Increase English vocabulary while studying for the GRE.

When addressing general learning - especially in K-6 - we must keep in mind that subjects cannot be separated from one another. An obvious example is science, which requires mathematics, writing, and usually reading. Mathematics word problems, of course, require skill in reading and logic. If we consider social studies, we quickly realize that reading, writing, science, and math concepts are usually necessary for appropriate learning experiences. The common element in all our learning is, of course, language, which we began learning before we were even born. As we grew and learned, we imitated our parents' oral language and learned to associate words with things we observed in our environment. Eventually, we began learning to read, which is simply associating written symbols with oral language. Reading opened us up to a variety of learning, but we had to practice reading on its own, for its own sake, as well as in the other subject areas. This is why schools nowadays often... read more

I discovered my passion for the Spanish language on a church trip to the Dominican Republic ten years ago while serving a group of amazing people there. At the time I was a junior at Western Michigan University and was majoring in Creative Writing. I had only taken a few years of Spanish in high school and was very shaky with speaking. However, something amazing happened while I was there! I found myself being able to communicate and slowly understand. A little boy named Jorge was sitting with my friend and I one night and slowly repeating  "estrella" when it suddenly clicked. I have little Jorge to thank for igniting that passion in me. I went on to double major in Spanish and Creative Writing, then continue to get my Master's degree in Spanish literature. Through the years I have lived in Santander, Spain; Queretaro, Mexico, and finally Barcelona, Spain for the past five years. My husband (who is Spanish) and I just moved back to Michigan and are starting... read more

There is a lot to be said for knowing vocabulary.  Just about any profession you enter will have its own "lingo", and being able to break sentences down word by word is incredibly helpful.  There are reasons why teachers push basic knowledge, like knowing how to alphabetize quickly, doing your multiplication tables in your head, and understanding how to break sentences apart.  Unfortunately, a lot of students come and go through school without learning the basics.  THIS is your opportunity to improve your communication skills; written and verbal.  If you know your vocabulary, you can discuss topics in a professional manner, and get your point across in a more understandable way.  It's harder to be misinterpreted when you use words appropriately.     If you're reading a textbook, look for underlined or highlighted and/or bolded words.  Read them out loud several times.  Make sure that you are pronouncing them... read more

There are a few easy steps for gaining fluency:  1. Use a new word each day as much as possible. 2. Do your best to think in the target language. 3. Speak in that language with friends or strangers as much as possible. 4. Speak to yourself in that language with scenarios you feel you would be in. 5. Review the words that you learned in conversation or study each day before bed. 6. Study reading and writing as needed. 7. Keep a personal journal or diary in that language. 8. Speak with native speakers if possible. 9. Join communities that speak in the target language. 10. The best way to learn anything is to teach it to someone else. try teaching a family member or friend the language. 11. Watch television as much as possible in the target language. 12. As for music, listen to music in the target language only. (if possible) 13. Write down words that you do not understand that you have heard. 14. Don't be afraid to ask questions... read more

"SUMMER SLUMP SURVIVAL GUIDE" 1.  GEOGRAPHY...If you travel this summer, that too can be a learning experience.  For example, at some point during your journey, you likely look at a map.  To do this, you must understand north, south, east and west.  Mathematically, you should also experience the relationship between speed of travel (e.g., 65 miles-per-hour), distance and timing.  If you travel inter-state, then you study the geography of the United States.  If your journeys take you internationally, then this is more than a geographic experience. 2.  LANGUAGE...Traveling to another country may require developing the knowledge of how to say HELLO and GOODBYE, how to ask a cab driver for a quote for the cost of a trip, as well as many other details. 3.  TELEVISION...When you are at home, you may find yourself watching television.  Although it has been called the IDIOT BOX, it can be as... read more

For parents who are trying to do any of the following: 1. Engage your child in reading 2. Increase your child's reading skills (fluency, comprehension, rhythm, expression, tempo, etc.) 3. Increase your child's language acquisition, vocabulary, grammar skills, and spelling skills This blog post is for you!!! There are some really unique ways to help your child become a "reader." I myself wasn't a "reader" until about the age of 10. Up to that point, though I loved books and collected books and asked for books for birthdays/holidays, I was not a reading self-starter. However, I loved being read TO! At the age of 6, I took a great interest in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books. Not only, was I fascinated with the time period (late 1800's), I also found a kindred spirit of sorts in Laura. She stood up for things in which she believed strongly, she was stubborn, and she was short! I found a heroine that was very much like... read more

Hello! Thank you for visiting my site! I have 8 years of language teaching experience. I taught for 7 years at Princeton University and 1 year at the University of Notre Dame. It is truly a joy for me to help people reach their academic and personal goals. Please contact me as soon as possible to inquire about scheduling a tutoring session with me. I specialize in language arts, particularly Spanish, French, and English. I also have experience tutoring people of all ages, and helping them prepare for standardized tests. I look forward to hearing from you soon! Best regards, Valerie

IF I could go back in time and give my younger self some advice on how to be a better student, be more successful in school, life, etc, I would definitely tell myself that being involved in everything comes at a cost. It is better to find a few things that you like to do, do them well and often, than feeling stressed because there is so much on your plate at one time. Being a 'Jack of all Trades' it is natural for me to dip my toes in different waters- all at the same time, but that does not mean that I can give 100% to any of them at that time. While I was able to get good grades (A- average) while in school, I was impressed by how much better I did- and felt about my work- the few times that I scaled back on my activities. Another piece of advice that I wish that I could bestow upon my younger self would be to learn how to speak up in a group setting when someone is not fulfilling their part of an agreement. Now, this said, the best way to do this would be in a tactful... read more

Salvete Omnes! (Greetings all!) This post is to inform all potential students that I am currently about 35 weeks pregnant and will not be accepting new students until April 1st. Current students should be advised that my schedule may become severely limited in the next two months. During this time, I may be available for short sessions or for one-time-only students. I will not be able to make any long-term commitments until April 1st.

Recently, as I've been working with students on reading, I noticed something interesting. Students tend to want to read the material quickly, whether or not the word is being read correctly.This presents in two different ways that I have noticed so far: If it is a new word, the letters and syllables might get read out of order. If it is a root word, verb or noun, they are already familiar with, the prefixes or suffixes may be read incorrectly. This made me wonder where the drive for speed was coming from. Was it a desire to sound natural? Was it the students' way of getting through the daunting task as quickly as possible? Whatever the reason, it was not helping the students become better readers or spellers. Spellers?! How does that apply to reading, you may ask? My answer is this: For visual learners, reading is a big part of spelling. When they see words, repeatedly, they can recall the images later on when they are trying to spell them. Therefore, when students are... read more

Have you always struggled with spelling words correctly? Would you be lost without the spell-check feature? There is one trick with spelling that I have taught students young and old: Find the word within the word that you know how to spell, then work on the parts you don't know. For example, the word reconfigure. You may not know how to spell configure or figure, but maybe you know how to spell fig. Start with that simple word and add onto it. Most know the spelling of "re-", and the word "con-". Now you have reconfig-. If you sound out the ending, you should be able to add the '-ure" without any trouble. Unfortunately for many, this "trick" isn't even considered until later in life and many have already become super reliant on the spell-check (our technological savvy generation, right?). Tackle those big words one little step at a time. Take those bigger words apart to make smaller pieces, and you'll be on your way to better spelling... read more

I remember a public service announcement about reading from my childhood. I don’t remember the images, but the message said, “Reading is fundamental.” Growing up in a book – filled home with a family of readers and frequent library trips, I naively thought everyone knew this. I was saddened to learn that not everyone loved to escape into fictional worlds of words as much as we did. This article gives parents five tips for helping their kids learn to enjoy reading and become lifelong readers. 1. Let kids make their own reading choices. Young children enjoy the bonding experience that comes from hearing their parents read stories aloud. Just about anything will do – as long as it’s read somewhat dramatically. They will sit and listen intently. However, pre – teens and teenagers want independence. Parents can use this to their advantage to help get their older children to enjoy reading. This does not mean parents should let their children read inappropriate material. Provide... read more

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