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Learning Spanish is FUN!

I say: "I love teaching and I have extensive experience teaching beginner, intermediate, advanced subjects to adults, teens, and younger children, in both group settings and private tutoring. My classes are fun, engaging, and geared to help my students learn fast. For private students, I customize my lessons according to each of my students’ learning style and individual needs. My students’ confidence and grades improve greatly after just a few private lessons.  I use games, songs, music, computers, videos, many authentic materials or whatever is necessary to help you get to the levels you desire. Your success motives me and I will help you anyway I can! If you really want to learn to write, speak, read and listen Spanish/English correctly, I am here to help you today" This is what some of my students have said about me & my classes: "Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher!I had so much fun in your class. I enjoyed learning Spanish more than... read more

Teaching English

I had so much fun in college when I lived in Miami, Florida and taught English to young school children. I worked for an organization called Amigos Together For Kids, founded by a young Cuban entrepreneur named Jorge. We organized toy drives at Christmas, helped foster families, and ran an after school tutoring program at Jose Marti Park. The kids at the camp always needed help with their homework, and I loved teaching them, many of whom were children of immigrant families from Cuba (native language, Spanish). One day, I was at a table with five little 1st-graders, and one of them started to sing, I laughed out loud as she hummed the Pussycat Dolls and sang, "Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?" Seriously it was a great time and very rewarding. I still have many of the little crafty gifts the kids which the kids would make in school and then give to me.

Teaching Subjunctive in English and Spanish

I introduced the Present Subjunctive to 2 of my students within the last week; first to my Spanish High School student and then to my Adult ESL student. Wow! Heavy duty grammar! I used to find it easier to teach Spanish grammar, in either English or Spanish, since I had to learn it formally and then incorporate it into my Spanish vernacular. I don't remember studying English grammar to the same extent, ever! At least until I took linguistics classes toward my Masters in ESL. However, I have always felt that learning these and other grammatical concepts in Spanish crept over to my English. I mentioned this to one of my other High School Spanish students and he agreed! He felt that the grammar he is learning, both from his teacher at school and from me, is helping his English! In fact, my knowledge of Spanish grammar also helped me transfer the same concepts to other languages I have learned as well, including Italian and Hebrew. More reason to study other languages, even... read more

Creating the Proper Environment

When it comes down to it, many of us are reluctant to sit down and do those mundane tasks that we are required to do. It is so easy to be distracted by simpler or more exciting stimuli; anything to keep us from training the brain. Luckily, there are ways to make it easier. It involves your environment. The objects around you influence your behavior. The surroundings stimulate feelings; good or bad. We have control over how we feel when we go to do our work. Yet, our environment plays a key roll. The first step toward improving our environment is choosing the correct area. Somewhere relatively quiet, plenty of space, ample light, and a comfortable seat. These four characteristics play an important roll in choosing a location. We want quiet and solitude, to reduce distractions, when we sit down to concentrate. If we become distracted, all of the work we put into our state of concentration goes to waste. This leaves us feeling frustrated which makes it hard complete the... read more

Excerpt from one of my favorite Spanish poems

Yo escuchaba chapotear en el barro Los pies descalzos Y presentía los rostros anochecidos de hambre. Mi corazón fue un péndulo entre ella y la calle. Y no sé con que fuerza me liberé de sus ojos Me zafé de sus brazos. Ella quedó nublando de lágrimas y angustía Tras de la lluvia y el cristal Pero incapáz para gritarme: "Espérame, Yo me marcho contigo!" ~Miguel Otero Silva

The Best Way to Use Flashcards to Increase Your Vocabulary

Flashcards have been used for a long time by students that want to broaden their vocabulary, whether for learning a second language or increasing one's vocabulary of your primary language. Before computers, students often used index cards and wrote a word on one side, and the meaning of the word, or the equivalent word in another language on the other side. Now there are all sorts of flashcard websites and flashcard software programs available that basically do the same thing electronically. But regardless of the medium you use, there are some ways to use flashcards that are better than others. I'm going to recommend one way that I find very helpful. Instead of just randomly selecting 20 or 50 or 100 words, and trying to memorize them via flashcards, select vocabulary words that are in context. What this means is that it's better to create flashcards based on a reading passage or book or essay you've read, and then selecting words from what you've read and creating flashcards... read more

Ben Franklin’s Language-Learning Secret

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin described a technique he frequently used to improve his writing and language skills: Whenever Franklin came across a piece of writing that he felt was extremely well-crafted, he would read the passage repeatedly until he could write down word-for-word—from memory—what he read on a separate piece of paper. He then would compare what he wrote to the original passage he read, would make whatever corrections he needed to, and would repeat the whole exercise several days later. If there’s some aspect of your language skills you’d like to improve (writing, speaking, or listening, etc.), give Benjamin Franklin’s exercise a try: Improve your listening skills by writing down the words you hear in a foreign language movie or song. Watch your favorite foreign-language TV show, and try to imitate your favorite character’s accent or vocabulary. Or, if you want to work on you foreign-language writing and expression skills, buy a translated... read more

How I teach languages

When I teach languages I basically work on the student’s grammar and pronunciation. Vocabulary is also important, and I encourage my students to use the language as much as they can. This can take the passive form of reading, watching TV, or listening to the radio; or it can take the active form of speaking to others in the language they want to learn and writing in the language. This can take the form of a journal. Languages are like the piano. If you do not practice, you will not be able to speak well. Grammar is the building block of a language. It tells you how to put the words that you know into sentences. Perhaps children can learn a language without knowing grammar, but most adults need grammar to learn a new language. Pronunciation is important. Sometimes it can determine whether the speaker is understood. For some, communication is the chief goal, and having a really good pronunciation is not that important. For others it is important to speak a language well, and... read more

How to Build Your Language Skills Painlessly by Keeping a Diary

One thing I found helpful when I was initially getting the hang of Russian was to keep a language diary for a few weeks. My diary started when, in an effort not to get rusty at Russian during the summer between semesters, I started reading some Russian poetry and parts of short stories in the original. The diary wasn’t anything fancy. I simply wanted some more Russian-language practice and to practice expressing my thoughts in writing (no matter how simple the thoughts were). I did this by typing my entries in Russian into a Word document. I usually wrote about 2 things: 1) what I remembered about the poem/story’s plot 2) what I thought about the poem/story I’d also bold and put into red coloring new phrases and vocabulary that I’d learned, found useful, and wanted to remember. Your diary can serve whatever function you’d like. You can write about your day, or some little event that happened one day. Or you can keep track of useful phrases or words you learned... read more

Can't make it to a tutoring session? We can have an online session!

For the past five years, I have worked in multiple online areas: social media, graphic design, web development, etc. I discovered that online collaboration tools are a very unique and diverse way to keep up with and practice different activities. I would like to motivate students to participate in online tutoring sessions. I am not saying this should be a substitute to face to face sessions, but it a nice little way for students to get their online "fix" during the week and be reminded about what they are learning. If you are interested in adding an online session to your student's weekly tutoring, let me know. There are many ways to have video chats and also interactive tools for completing different tasks.

The Value of Flashcards

I remember that there was once a time when I underestimated the power of flashcards as a learning tool, and now I they’re all I use to memorize new language vocabulary and sometimes grammar concepts. Though they can be tedious and boring to write out for a large vocabulary list, flashcards have been worth the extra effort that I’ve put into making them. Here are some of the pros (listed in no particular order) that I’ve found in using flashcards: - You can easily make them—and on your own time. I love printed lists, but I noticed that they take me more time and effort to make than flashcards. I find that I get too particular and too hung up over small details—the words need to be a certain font, I like for the English side to be a certain color, etc. Also by the time I’m even done making up a list to print, I usually have to wait for a computer at the library to print my vocab list, and then end up waiting behind someone who has 7 print jobs. Flashcards, one the... read more

Studying a Foreign Language - how fluent would you like to be?

When I am contacted by potential clients for my language tutoring services, I like to ask them what their current level is with the target language, and how fluent they would like to be. Everybody says, "As fluent as you can make me!" Well, the truth is, although I am pretty fabulous, :) our sessions together will be much enhanced if the student is willing to commit to doing some language review outside of our sessions, on his or her own time. I was gathering my WyzAnt information together for tax season this year, and I realized that one of my most successful students is approaching her three-year anniversary with me. She made a commitment to herself to learn to speak and read Spanish, and she has made incredible strides. The reason I mention her in particular is that she only sees me twice a month! Once every two weeks, for an hour each time. She has, however, bought CDs which she listens to on her daily walks with her dogs, she uses her grammar book as a bathroom... read more

Calling all students

I'm new to this site and can't wait to help you. Got questions? I got answers! Whether you need some simple study skills and techniques or if you have very specific problems in a subject, I can help. Let me show you how all these subjects work together and are not isolated disciplines that you're never going to use. I'll show you the relevance of each subject and how they're all integrated. Learning is so much fun when you understand why you need to know.

I Guarantee...

When asked for a guarantee of outcome, a surgical colleague of mine tells his patients, "I guarantee my work but not your parts." Before illness disabled me from practicing, patients whose traumatic injuries were substantial, for whom a perfect outcome was impossible, would hear, "You can't make chicken soup from chicken poop, but sometimes, you can make pretty good fertilizer." The same goes for education. Children need structure for security, but too much stifles growth and backs up within, disturbing their ability to focus, concentrate, study and learn. So, while children in poverty might have unhealthy home environments, poor diets, and even danger on a day to day basis, even children at the opposite end of the spectrum can suffer. If their schedules are overbooked, to make them into over-achievers, a breaking point can be reached, hurting their grades and backfiring on their chances of entering the best colleges. Add the stress of impending SAT... read more

Ser vs. Estar

Charlie está aburrido = Charlie is bored (right now) Charlie es aburrido = Charlie is a boring person (in general)   So when do you use está and when do you use es? Good question...   Lately I've been working with a beginner student who has been having trouble with ser vs. estar. It really brings back memories from my early days in Spanish! A lot of people learn the basic idea of permanent vs. temporary when talking about ser vs. estar (as in the Charlie example above), and that can be helpful at times, but there are important exceptions to remember. With that in mind, I thought I'd post a little refresher here with some basic "rules" about when to use SER and when to use ESTAR.    When to use SER Origin & Nationality Where a person is from (capitalize places, but not nationalities!) Ella es de Chile Soy estadounidense... read more

Awesome tutor here, and published author of 15 educational books in all subject areas.

I am ready to help any students out there who likes a well-qualified teacher who teaches with a sense of humor and who believes in the respects and rights of students. I teach writing to all grades, even the SAT prep in writing and reading, but mainly I focus on elementary school and middle grade subjects. Hope to hear from you.

Revolutionize your language learning experience

I've been re-reading an old copy of Barry Farber's book How to Learn Any Language. The copy I have is more than a little out-of-date, as the author talks about the "innovation" of portable audio-cassette players as a language-learning tool. The internet has opened up countless new tools for learners of foreign languages. If I were to update Farber's book myself, here are the online tools I would add to his list of advice. If you would like the details of any language-specific sites or need help navigating the overwhelming amount of available online resources, feel free to contact me through WyzAnt by email to set up a tutoring session. (I specialize in tutoring Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and English, but I have also "dabbled" in other languages). Online dictionaries that provide two-way look-up are usually much easier than looking up words in a paper dictionary, especially for character-based languages like Chinese and Japanese. Podcasts online are... read more

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