I taught English for one year online, where I met in virtual classrooms adult English learners from around the world. I also taught English in a village in Oaxaca, Mexico, to students in their teens and early twenties whose first language was an indigenous language spoken in that region. Finally, I taught conversational English to adults in Albania.
I graduated with highest honors in history from the University of California, Berkeley. I’m working on a Ph.D in history at Stanford University. For both degrees, my emphasis has been on the history of the Balkans. As part of my education, I have done archival research in Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, and Russia. I have learned to read Russian, German, Albanian, and Serbo-Croatian. In addition, I speak Spanish.
I envision picking with the student one theme to discuss during each session. The student will talk about ¾ of the time. I want to ask engaging questions surrounding an interesting, thought-provoking theme. Topics could include: employment, cultural differences, interior decorating, traveling, parenting, global warming, social networking, and others.
My favorite topics are“parenting,” and for students who are not parents, “being raised by strict parents.” Usually, students have plenty to share.
Even advanced ESL students struggle with phonology. Many have very little background in phonology. While I stay away from linguistic discussion, I enjoy explaining to students the differences within pairs like“B” and “P”, “D” an “T”, “F” and “V”. We use our vocal chords, lungs, mouths and tongues differently when we form different parts of the pairs. I have found success with native speakers of Spanish, which shares consonants with English but does not have the same phonology. Thus, I explain to native speakers of Spanish how D and some other consonants are not pronounced the same in English and Spanish.
Prepositions are also difficult for students. The influence of other languages will appear in their misuse of prepositions in English. For examples, Russian speakers might say “on the park” instead of “in the park” or “to the park”. I point these mistakes out to students, and assign practice homework.
1. Study English for one hour a day, and try not to skip days. 2. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you’ve had a frustrating day with conversation. Even on a day full of mistakes, you’re brain is still processing concepts. 3. Don’t be shy about speaking English.
I love Latin dancing (salsa, bachata, cumbia), and am a member of a dance collective in Mexico.
I prefer students who are curious about learning, and students who are not afraid to challenge themselves.