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University of Chicago
Middlebury College, Middlebury VT (Master's)
Bonjour, mes amis! Salut! I bring with me a strong background in French from the University of Chicago and Middlebury College, and over 14 years of teaching in public and private schools preK-12, two years of teaching at the college level, individual tutoring to teenagers and adults, and most recently, instructing senior citizens through Chicago's Department of Aging. I also served as the faculty coordinator and developed supplementary materials for the "French in Action" series on WYCC-TV20.
I understand the difficulties many students have in overcoming the obstacles in learning a foreign language, and can reassure you that, although French has the reputation of being complicated in grammar, spelling, and speech, the language actually has many repeated patterns, and even the exceptions have patterns!
My goal in teaching and tutoring students is to activate the language through a variety of methods, traditional as well as audio-visual, multicultural, and interdisciplinary. Learning French should be FUN, whether students are at Point Zero or just need refining.
I pride myself on the energy, enthusiasm, and flexibility I bring to every phase of my work. Besides my fluency in French, I have a good knowledge of Spanish, and have studied Russian in the Former Soviet Union. My passion for teaching allows comfort and ease for all students (ages 4 to 84!). I feel strongly about maintaining an informative and professional communication with parents, colleagues, and administrators.
Learning a foreign language opens doors, broadens a person's interest in new fields, and serves as a vehicle to explore new cultures and make new friends. We also understand more about ourselves through the contrasts we find between our native speech and the "new" language (also, personally, through my experience in editing and tutoring of English as a Second Language). During the last year, I have worked with middle school students in broadening and deepening their skills in Language Arts; descriptions of my methodology in these last two subjects may be found elsewhere on this site.
Finally, language is theater: we progress from basic expressions to acting out new roles, and finally, to confirming our own character as we master our new discipline.
BTW, I am NOT bound to tutoring only in downtown Chicago; let's connect!
Pamela H. Bonjour, mes amis! Salut! I bring with me a strong background in French from the University of Chicago and Middlebury College, and over 14 years of teaching in public and private schools preK-12, two years of teaching at the college level, individual tutoring to teenagers and adults, and most… Read more
Pamela is an excellent tutor. I give her the highest recommendation. She is very understanding, knowledgeable and thorough. She provides good insight both from her time in France and from her time teaching.
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As a foreign language teacher in PreK through 12th grade (Illinois- and New York- certified 6-12) and as a substitute teacher of all subjects, levels, and many neighborhoods in Chicago, I have the skills and enthusiasm to work with children, especially in language arts, social studies, and even some basic math.
I have applied my French teaching methods to working in English as well: am familiar with appropriate reading selections and writing techniques for younger students.
When my daughters were in elementary school,I volunteered to be trained in Junior Great Books curricula and assisted their primary grade teachers with that subject. I also taught and supervised children (in English and in French) during the Summer Cultural Camps at the University of Chicago Lab Schools and at the Alliance Française in downtown Chicago.
Finally, I worked during the Summer Reading Programs at the Chicago Public Library and, briefly, as a Teacher in the Library (the branch unfortunately was closed due to flooding), and got along quite well with children of primary and middle school levels.
I am patient, have a good sense of humor, but am also serious about the task at hand. In addition,I am sensitive to the needs and moods of most children.
My main experience in tutoring English as a Second Language has been with adults. The students have come from various countries where a Romance language was spoken (Spanish, Italian, and French). They were already at an intermediate level, but needed help with conversational fluency, pronunciation, some grammar, and idiomatic expressions, especially to excel in their business and social lives. I also taught an adult from Colombia for over a year, after completing training with the Aquinas Literacy Center: this latter position was as a volunteer. While not certified in ESL, I have taken a couple university credits toward the credential.
I have been able to design courses exactly to each student's needs, using written materials, CDs, DVDs, or internet news presentations--as well as supplementing the published materials with practice exercises of my own invention. We would periodically add short discussions about native English-speaking people, their culture, and way of life. The classes have gone very well, and I have seen improvement in all of my students. Through my own experience traveling and living in foreign countries, substitute-teaching in my community with bi-lingual Hispanic students, and assisting non-native graduate students with their curriculum-based projects or theses, I have an understanding of the challenges--and sometimes frustrations--that individuals experience when they are trying to communicate in a language that is not their native one. I have much respect for my "tutees," and approach our lessons with energy, creativity, and good spirit.
When tutoring most students, I teach in concentric circles: first, learning how to talk about yourself, your family, your occupation and activities, then moving out to the "world" further away from your center. I take notes while we talk and study, and then give them to you at the end of each session (for most persons, 90 minutes). There is a little homework, if you have time for it.
If you are more than a beginner, or have particular aspects of the language as your goal, we work with these. I have a variety of resources in my personal library, and bring copies of pages which respond best to your needs.
Students who are native speakers of English, or have studied mainly Spanish in the past, often believe that French is terribly complicated. Actually, there are many predictable patterns in French; we learn these, and you will find that even the exceptions are regular!
In my tutoring of English to students of non-native origin (Romance languages, German/Austrian, and some Chinese), I am very well acquainted with the problems of transference from one's native tongue to American English. I have lived in the Midwest, South, and East, and spent time in New England and the West Coast.
From my major specialty, French, I am also familiar with vowel and consonant combinations for which English vocabulary and grammatical pronunciation are hard to predict. The more one reads aloud what s/he is speaking and creates dialog, the more comfortable one is with English.
I have taught language arts to new high school freshmen who were largely from Hispanic backgrounds; and successfully underwent training in ESL from Aquinas Literacy Center in Chicago; afterward, I volunteered teaching ESL for approximately one year.
When working with students to improve their reading skills, I believe it is most important that the selections used are age-appropriate, engaging, even "fun." I use some phonics, compare individual vocabulary with like-sounding words. Making flashcards for new and difficult terms can also be useful; for students middle-school age and younger, drawing a picture and labeling it with the student's own sentence, or one taken from the reading, can increase their memory. Finally, I believe that the process of improving reading should be interactive: ultimately the student can lead the teacher.
Correct spelling in English is not always an easy task. Depending on the student's goals--developing flashcards to test oneself; perceiving patterns even in the "exceptions to the rule;" using mnemonic (memory) devices when appropriate; even old-fashioned drill and quizzes--all of these can help the student perfect his/her command of this skill. Spell-check is not enough!
When I work with students to improve their writing skills, I emphasize consistency in verb tenses; varied use of vocabulary; and phrasing one's facts and thoughts in an engaging way.
Form as well as content is important; focusing on the topic at hand is critical; and providing some original ideas or approaches will keep your reader's attention, as long as there is justification behind them.
My method often begins with "brainstorming;" followed by having the student organize his/her more scattered thoughts into a coherent, sequential whole.
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