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If I could go back in time, and give one valuable piece of information to my younger self, what might that be? This is a question prompt from Wyzant's Tutors Blog. I would tell Rachel Jr. to stay focused. In every young mind willing to learn, there is a conscience that one can choose to listen to or ignore for the time being. Never put off today's struggle for tomorrow's hardship. Once you make a commitment to something, see it through. Never give up. Believe in yourself. It is so much easier to follow what you know works best for yourself, than to sell yourself short and regret it later. Take advantage of opportunities, or else they will take advantage of you. Being a leader means knowing how to follow your own rules as well as someone else's. Trust yourself, because ultimately only you know what is best for yourself. Procrastination is your enemy. Today is your test, and you are your own teacher. -Rachel Sr.

I am in China right now from December 13-January 4 visiting my father who lives here in Hangzhou, a city just three hours south of Shanghai. He and his wife have just welcomed a baby boy into the world and are spending a great deal of time caring for him and preparing the house for my visit. My little brother's name is Benjamin, and he was born on November 2, 2012. I am so glad that there is one more person in our lives to care for and nourish, both physically and emotionally. I look forward to teaching him both English and French, and he will learn Chinese from his mother. Tutoring will be a great part of our relationship as he grows and develops into a well-rounded, mature individual. He will grow up in Evanston, my hometown, but for the moment he is here in China. I hope everyone's holidays go smoothly and that the new year brings inspiration and compassion to all who hope to learn.

There are many resources online to help ESL students learn English on their own time. Many dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster ( and Larousse ( offer audio prompts for those struggling with precise pronunciation. No two people pronounce words exactly the same in everyday life, but these sites can recite the words for you in all the acceptable pronunciations. Merriam-Webster is a British dictionary, and Larousse is a multi-language dictionary that translates words from English to French, Spanish, German, Italian, or vice versa. I would suggest doing an online search for more specific questions about English, such as idiomatic expressions or vocabulary. Such sites as and might help someone struggling with the nuances of the English language. Good luck to you!

I recently discovered a podcast that is a great tool for English speakers to learn more about the language they use every day. It is a National Public Radio show called "A Way with Words." People can call in with their language questions, and often learn about their "etymological heritage" through a brief conversation with Grant and Martha, the word gurus. It is not necessary to be a native speaker to understand the podcast, although it is intended for fluent speakers. This show offers everything from word origins to archaic definitions, to idioms, to localized word usage. The show is very useful and a seasoned English speaker will learn something new within each session of listening to the program. The information provided is also easy to remember as Grant and Martha give you helpful and detailed tips in a fun and easygoing way. For more information, go to I highly recommend this as a resource for English speakers.

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