Holes in Education

I have tutored for over six years now.  In that time I have worked with students from 12 months old to adults in their seventies. In this time and with this experience I have learned many things. Now, mind you, some of these things may be a matter of opinion, but I believe they are important.

– No two students are the same

– Textbooks are generally for the birds, and best used as references

– When it comes to grammar explanations, textbooks generally leave students dumbfounded and confused

– The average student needs an English grammar lesson to be able to identify parts of speech in a foreign language

– Immersion is extremely important, as is an excellent foundation

Why are there these ‘holes’ ? Honestly, I don’t know for sure, but here’s my good guess:  the general education system. I understand there are certain subjects that every student needs to learn, i.e. math, reading, etc. But the concept of a general education is beyond ridiculous. No one person is exactly like another. And what does a general education do? Take all the pressure off the parent and put that pressure on the teacher.

Oh don’t worry about teaching Timmy the alphabet, or phonetics, or even basic manners…..Mrs. Smith will do that for you. And for the parents of her other 29+ students. And we wonder why we have a problem.

Now, this wasn’t meant to be a rant. Truly, I wanted to mention some ‘holes’ I have noticed only to say, perhaps as a parent you can ask your student, ‘how are things going?, are you struggling with something, can I help?’

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fresca como una lechuga

Let’s start off the week all ‘bright eyed and bushy tailed’!  It will be great, we’ll get so much done, and you will feel awesome!

Now I have to explain the saying that is my title.  My freshman year of college I took this great seminar class where we explored the political history of Latin America through its authors.  It was such a wonderful class taught by a very interesting man, Juan Allende.  Name sound familiar?  Anyone out there who is a Isabel Allende fan (you may freak out….or not, but I really did) will be excited to know that this man was (is) her brother.

I will tell you right now that this intimate (we only had about 8 people in the class) little seminar was the best class of my college career.  Being a freshman, I only knew two things:  1. I wanted to study Spanish and 2.  I wanted to learn about Latin America.  Sorry U.S., but we’re seriously lacking in the history education department.  In my experience, the only history you learn (secondary education) is U.S. History and Western European History.  What about Asia? Nope. Latin America? Nope. Africa? Nope.  The Middle East? Nope.

So, you can see that this seminar class was an exciting eye opener!  Near the end of the semester the professor (who we grew to really love and tried to convince him to show up one day to class in his pajamas…he refused and that is another long story) told us to write our own pieces of poetry, about whatever we wanted, and present them to the class.  The day before presentations he said to us, “I want you to be as fresh as lettuce!”.  And we all gave him that ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ look.  What??  Lettuce??

Yes, and now that is an expression I’ve heard many times: ‘fresca como una lechuga’ a.k.a ‘bright eyed and bushy tailed’.  So, here’s to hoping you have a fresh week!

No hay tocino

 

 

I can’t believe that it’s been over 5 years since I completed my study abroad program in Cordoba, Argentina! Where does the time go!?

I guess time flies when you’re having fun!

For some reason today I’ve been thinking about a particular event that occurred while studying abroad….I think that we were about half way through our stay and a bunch of us began to crave things that we couldn’t have (or things that just weren’t common in Argentina).  Prime example: bacon.  Now, I’m not an avid bacon eater….once in a while if I head out to IHOP I may munch on a strip or two….but like I said before, you always want what you can’t have.

And we had it bad…we found ourselves talking and talking and talking about bacon….A LOT.  Finally, one Saturday afternoon when we just couldn’t take it anymore we decided we were going to have a good ole’Merican breakfast….yes all of our host families thought we were crazy (those crazy Americans and there BIG breakfasts!).  But the day of our feast as we entered the grocery we couldn’t find the one thing we all really really wanted….BACON!  So, we settled for jamón crudo…and fried it up a bit….at least it smelled like bacon!

What you hear on vacation

dotted-world-mapLast week I was up in Maine visiting my family and while in Moody’s Gifts (browsing around and wanting to buy everything) I heard Italian.  There were some tourists there, browsing just like me and speaking Italian.  Okay, a lot of people would say “that’s nothing to write (home) about.” But when you’re in a small town in Maine, I’d say it is.

Not that I was eavesdropping, but I was so excited that I could pick up a word here and there.  I don’t know about them, but I enjoyed my stay (and I hope they did too!) and it just goes to show you and the world isn’t as small as you think!

¡buena suerte! (good luck)

…To all those students returning to school this week!  I hope you have a great start to a new year!

I remember the first day of school.  I would pack my backpack the night before and get everything organized (I was nerd, but that’s ok!).  Then every year my mom would take a picture of me at the front door, all ready for school.  And when I say every year, I mean every year….I didn’t look so thrilled in my senior pic!  Anyway, I always remember be a little nervous every year that first day.  You never knew what teachers you’d get and of course you’d heard stories of teachers you didn’t want to have….it was all a little nerve racking.  But, I liked settling into a daily routine and after a week or so everything was fine!

So here’s to a great week of settling in to your routine! And were ready to help you get a jump-start on tutoring whenever you are!

5 Things to Consider When Hiring a (Language) Tutor

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1. What are your goals?  Do you want to be fluent, conversational or get an “A” in Spanish class?  Any and all are great, but be sure you know what you are looking for.

2. Have expectations, but be reasonable.  Fluency and learning take time, no matter what the language or subject.  Hire a tutor before you start struggling in class.  It’s better to be prepared and not need much help than to wait a few weeks before grades come in.  Having a tutor is helpful to grasp concepts and help with understanding, clarification, etc.  But tutoring is more effective when you also put study time in on your own.

3. Tutoring can be fun! Depending on what your goals/needs are, sometimes it’s nice to do something out-of-the-box, creative, and away from the textbook.

4. Ask your tutor if they have any specials, discounts, or packages.  Many times your tutor is willing to work with you and can find ways to meet a budget or schedule.  If you can’t come to them, maybe they can come to you.  If traffic is consistently a problem, consider online lessons.

5. Is your tutor a full-time or part-time tutor? Now, this may sound like a silly question, but it’s an important one.  If your tutor is full-time, they may have more openings and scheduling options, which could be beneficial.  Also, like any other appointment you schedule, try to keep it or reschedule with enough warning.  That way, rescheduling is much easier on the tutor and the student.

Inspiración de Paulo Coelho

el alquimista

 

La semana pasada marcó el vigésimo aniversario de la historia, El Alquimista.  Esta historia es el cuento de un pastor, Santiago quien tiene un sueño recurrente sobre el descubrimiento de tesoro debajo de las piramides egipcias.  En su jornada, Santiago tiene varios encuentros pero quiere continuar su leyenda personal a descubrir el tesoro en las piramides.

Déspues de viajar un poco, Santiago se encontró con un alquimista inglés quien se aprendió mucho sobre el alma del mundo y los elementos. Los dos detuvieron al Al-Fayoum para evitar las guerras tribales y allí Santiago se enamoró con Fatima.  Santiago también tiene una visión sobre un ataque al Al-Fayoum, y por eso salvó la ciudad de destrucción. Déspues, se abandonó Fatima allí y continuye su jornada a las piramides.  La alquimista habla con él sobre su práctica y cuando llegan a las piramdes tienen varios encuentros con los arabes.  Cuando un arabe describe el mismo sueño a Santiago (que él está cerca de una iglesia debajo de un sicómoro, Santiago le da cuenta que el tesoro real está allí.

Cuando él regresa a España descubre un cofre de tesoro debajo de árbol y tiene planes a regresar a Al-Fayoum y a Fatima.

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