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Jokes are a fun way to learn vocabulary, practice phrases in context, and review grammar. Some of the information I provide below just skims the surface, so please stay tuned for more details on topics (such as verbs like gustar, possessive pronouns, and reflexive pronouns) or use other references for more information.   1.¿Por qué está triste el cuaderno de matemáticas?   Porque tiene muchos problemas.   Why is the math book sad?   Because it has a lot of problems. Por qué means why and porque means because. All words that are at least 3 syllables and end in ico/s or ica/s have an accent mark on the vowel that is 3 syllables back. The rule wouldn't apply to the words chico/s and chica/s because they only have two syllables. Problema ends in a, but it is masculine. A trick: many common words that end in ‘ma’ are masculine (el sistema,el tema, el programa, el idioma, el clima) and all words that end in ‘dad’ are... read more

It could be anything: paint, draw, even a new language. The idea that you are done learning once you reach a certain age in your life is as ridiculous as the notion that all women should be homemakers. In fact, it is never too late to learn anything! Take me, for example. I am a magazine editor who found a new life teaching about the very subjects that I learned in college and applied throughout my professional life.   My goal is to ensure that you will learn as quickly as possible any or all of the four subjects that I'm approved for in WyzAnt. Whether you want to understand the finer points of proofreading, or need to learn how to speak or write in English or in Spanish, I'll give you the tools that you'll need to become an expert in your selection from lesson one!

Ms. Betty Lynn Snyder, a sixth-grade teacher at Forrest Park Elementary, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas is my most memorable teacher. She was a great teacher because she made us think, write, and create. In Ms. Snyder's class I learned about Shakespeare's sonnets, The Belgian Congo, Nigeria and conserving natural resources. She was ahead of her time: she was a Project-Based Learning (PBL) Queen! The independent project learning broadened my knowledge of the world and of myself. It was through Ms. Snyder's class that I became enamored of the story of diplomat and Ambassador Ralph Bunche. This was particularly important, because I was the only person of color in my class--before our schools were officially integrated--and she found a way to create diversity in our learning. Thus, I always felt comfortable in her classroom and, in fact, I was elected secretary general of the mock United Nations. As I recall, Ms. Snyder had two sons--one of whom was named Edward,... read more

This post is about television...the boob-tube....the object of the couch potato....the nemesis of many students.  We all know that television (including netflix, hulu +, roku, and even DVDs) can be real time-wasters.   When we need a brain-break, or just need to chill out, the TV can be so attractive!  Yeah, I know what I'm talking about because I've been there too.   Here's a quick tip for advancing your Spanish language learning:  the next time you are in the mood for an old favorite movie, try switching the sound track to your foreign language, but leave the subtitles in English.  As you listen to the dialogue, your brain 'receives' the meaning via subtitles.  What you are listening to, then, is "comprehensible input" which is absolutely key to effective language learning.  In addition, you hear and internalize the sounds of the language, which will benefit your pronunciation and your comprehension as well... 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

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States and the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world! It is the official language of nearly twenty countries spoken by more than 500 million people. Spanish is the second language of international communication, and is increasingly used in economics, politics and cultural relations. The rapidly growing number of students studying Spanish throughout the world have reported these reasons and benefits: 1. Better job opportunities 2. Improved memory 3. Aging more slowly (it has been scientifically-proven that learning a new language can delay the age-related decline in mental function, particularly as experienced in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s!) 4. Conquering that special person's heart (why not learn to speak with your loved one in their own language?) 5. Sense of personal accomplishment 6. Career advancement 7. Making more money 8. Reaching new markets 9. Making new... read more

It can be tasking and tedious trying to learn a foreign language.   Students often ask the question, "Why do I need to learn a second language?"  "What purpose does this serve in my life in a primarily English speaking world?"  For those that are motivated to learn a second language, the answer to these questions seem obvious.  For those that are not, this is harder to grasp.   I believe that we need to stop focusing so much on what the PURPOSE of second language is, and what productive function it will have in our lives.  Rather, if we focus on what excites us about that culture, and seek information about the language for the sake of learning, the purpose and function of second language skills will become more apparent.   We live in a world with a wealth of information at our fingertips.  Even if you don't have the privilege of going to a country where the target language is spoken, I encourage you... read more

Many of my students dread conjugating verbs. They dread it even more when the verbs are irregular and have the same meaning!!  The verbs ser and estar both mean "to be", so what is the difference between the two?? Ser is used to describe things that are permanent or often unchangeable.  For example, Yo soy de Estados Unidos.(I am from the United States).  The form of ser used in the sentence is soy.  You can not change where you are from. Ser is also used to describe characteristics, professions, religions and nationalities.       Estar is used to describe things that are temporary. For example, Yo estoy en Florida para las vacaciones(I am in Florida for vacation). I am vacationing in Florida, but I am not from there.  There is a little rhyme that is printed in the textbook, Realidades, which helps you remember when to use the verb, estar.  The rhyme goes, For how... read more

Many students have a fear of learning a foreign language.  Instead of approaching acquiring a new tongue as an exciting challenge, many approach it with the question "Why do we have to learn this?"  Learning a foreign language can be a wonderful experience.  Here a few of my "Dos and Don'ts" when approaching foreign language learning.   DO keep an open mind and be positive about learning something new. DO recognize the similarities of your native language and the new language that you are learning. DO review your notes from class everyday and practice at home. DO find a language/study buddy in your language class. DO think about your future and how a new language is going to benefit you with your future goals. DON'T be negative. DON'T be prejudice about a foreign language and its culture based on stereotypes. DON'T stop trying even when there are words that you do not understand or there is a chapter that is... read more

Speaking only from a Spanish stand point, there is a fast and easy way to help students prepare to go to school if they only have a few minutes to spare each day. Flash cards always helped me with all my subjects throughout my undergraduate years but especially with Spanish. Buy some note cards and write down the tenses you are struggling with and some examples. You could even write some vocab words or create a table with each conjugation and tense. Punch a hole in the corner of each note card and place them on a ring. This is the longest part. Once you have this done, flip through the ring a couple minutes a day. With any language, repetition is key! Rebecca 

I recently got a tip about this language-learning app from Duolingo and have been test-driving it on my iPhone for a few days in Spanish, a language I've never formally studied. And I like it, quite a bit in fact. As an ESL and German teacher of many years, and someone who has dabbled in a variety of other languages, I put a lot of thought and study into the process of learning language. Duolingo covers many of the important bases by incorporating key principles into its design: Activities for all four facets of language study: writing, reading, listening, and even speaking (you speak into your device's microphone and it judges your pronunciation).  Moving gradually from passive recognition (What does "Adios" mean? - choose from word bank) to active use (What is "Goodbye" in Spanish? - no word bank). Overlapping reviews, incorporating grammar and vocabulary from previous lessons into new lessons. An emphasis... read more

I have been doing this stuff for as long as I can remember. Learning Spanish, speaking Spanish, teaching Spanish. Each stage has been interesting, a growing experience, full of its own frustrations, but not without the opportunity to have met so many wonderful people. Some great people have come along side me to teach me Spanish and that has allowed me to make friends who couldn't speak English, giving me one of my greatest lessons, real life experience! Now its my turn to pass this same gift on to others. I don't want to be like all the other teachers, albeit most of mine were great, but I don't want to get lost in a textbook or stacks of worksheets. I want to always remember and to remind my students that Spanish is a real life experience and not just some insurmountable task that they've been struggling with. Something I am always asked by students is, "How soon til I become fluent?" I wish that I could tell each of them, "Just finish all your homework and... read more

Although learning is an awesome thing, it can be a difficult and frustrating journey for many students. This difficulty, however, is often times quite normal although most feel it means that a child may not be able to learn or that he/she is so frustrated that learning is no longer taking place. This is where the experienced tutor steps in; for frustration in learning is a part of the learning itself. I have taught and tutored many students and have seen first hand how this frustration can leave some students, and their parents, feeling helpless and hopeless. But there is ALWAYS Hope!!! What they have failed to realize is that as the brain learns difficult concepts, it can only take in parts at a time, little parts at a time. So although it may seem no learning is taking place, it actually is, just in smaller segments. In fact, the most frustration comes right before a new concept is achieved. This is when most give up. Had they stayed focused for perhaps one or two more... read more

Hi all, Thanks to those of you who take the time to read this. I would love to start a dialogue with you so feel free to write to me with comments. This past school year has been a big one for me. I completed my graduate practicum in the fall, in a self-contained ESL and Sheltered ESL classroom in a high school. It was a challenge and required a lot of work but it was worth every minute. The things I learned are invaluable in terms of relating to students better on a personal and professional level, learning how to reach them and motivate them, figuring out other ways to teach the same lesson to someone who did not understand the first time, teaching students how to advocate for themselves and so much more! I had to prepare a huge binder of evidence for the Department of Education, just to prove myself again (and again and again). I did it! Then I had to begin studying for the Comprehensive Exam for my Master's Degree. I was going to originally try to take it in December... 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

Have you taken a full year or two of a foreign language, and wish to have an enjoyable way to increase, improve, and expand your vocabulary and comprehension of the language in 'real' life? Here is an easy and rewarding way to do so. First, let's figure what you usually 'need' for foreign language study: material in the language you're studying; a way to look up or translate unfamiliar words and expressions; a program that provides 'thematic' content, like 'a trip to the mall,' 'a visit to the beach,' or 'preparing a party.' But wait a minute! Are those 'learning units' really interesting? They don't do much for me. But here's an idea worth trying. Look for a complete season of a TV show or mini-series that is available on DVD, AND comes with BOTH subtitles and dubbing in the language you're studying. You can easily get that information from the product page. Then rent the DVDs. You might even buy them and it would be less money that the software programs that cost in the... read more

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