Sunday, March 24, 2013

Do you or don't you need a tutor?

As a tutor or teacher, you may frequently be asked, “Does my child need tutoring?” There is virtually universal, worldwide agreement that tutoring in general is highly beneficial to learning. But is tutoring always beneficial? And when is it necessary or essential, or even recommended?

As tutoring has become more and more popular, and tutoring options and modalities more diverse, motivations for hiring tutors have changed. Increasingly tutoring may be seen as a way to “enrich” a student’s educational experience – but that isn’t necessarily the same thing as improving the quality of his or her education, or an appropriate support for success in a class, on a high-stakes test or with learning in general.

As this article by James Mendelsohn, PhD indicates, sometimes parents seek tutors for the wrong reasons. They may be anxious about their childrens’ academic and economic future. This puts the onus on tutors to be clear on when tutoring is appropriate, what constitutes effective tutoring, and how to increase the likelihood that the time you spend tutoring will be have strong positive outcomes for your students.

As Mr. Mendelsohn states, “Tutors bear a responsibility for ensuring that they are working in the best interests of students, which sometimes includes recommending to parents that it is unwise to tutor a child.” Another part of that role is to strive to help learners rise above the need for tutoring. Also implicit is a need to be aware of, and responsive to, the potential cognitive and emotional impacts of tutoring on students’ development.

A major “reason for tutoring” that might not be appropriately addressed by tutoring is a desire on the part of parents for their child to excel. Such students are often already working hard, and don’t really want tutoring. Is forcing tutoring on them sending the message that their ability and effort isn’t “good enough” and they can’t do well on their own?

As tutors, it’s important to reflect on whether some parents might be seeking tutoring not to provide an enriched education or to help kids discover passions and intrinsic motivations, but to drive their children towards a fast-track/elite higher education process. Here’s the question: Does tutoring support the development of intellectual independence – a student’s ability to solve problems, seek information and learn on his or her own? Or does it potentially undermine it?

In this context, the development of patience, resourcefulness and confidence are more important than test results. (And potentially they’re better predictors of success in college and in life than test results, too.)

So when is tutoring necessary or beneficial? Here are some warning signs to ask parents about:
  • Falling grades. If the drop is sharp, parents might have waited too long before considering tutoring.
  • Excuses about not doing homework. Often this means the student is falling behind or not performing up to their ability level.
  • Excuses about not liking teachers. This can be a red flag that extra help with concept beyond what’s available in class would be beneficial.
  • Low self-confidence. Poor performance in the classroom, especially in the tangible form of bad grades, can quickly undermine self-worth. Often a tutor can help where parents are simply frustrated.
In all these situations, whatever the reasons behind them, tutors can often help simply because they are not the parents or the teachers – they have a “clean slate” with the student. Simply by focusing on the student’s needs and offering time and support can do wonders in many cases.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Spanish pronunciation help - R vs RR

Submitted by Evelyn Musslewhite, Spanish Teacher with The Language School

Our students ask us a lot about the diference between the R sounds in Spanish.  I'm sorry, I just can't roll my R's!

“R” and “RR” letters are a challenge even for native Spanish speakers, so don't feel bad about your pronunciation here!  Moreso, during the couple of weeks that I have been teaching Spanish to native English speakers, I have noticed a challenge with reading the “R” and “RR” and also a pronunciation challenge.  As a consequence, I wanted to share some advice for helping you with your pronunciation.

1. Keep in mind that there are two “R” sounds in Spanish: the single “R” sound and the double
“R” (or “RR”) sound.

4. Keep in mind that the Spanish “R” and “RR” don't share the distinctive "R" sound of English.
Think of them as separate letters entirely.

2. Keep in mind that the single “R” sound is used whenever the single “R” appears in a word. it will take the double R sound when:

  • it's at the beginning of a word
  •  or after an L, N or S, 

3. The “RR” sound is also used to sound the letter combination of rr, which used to be
considered a separate letter of the Spanish alphabet.

5. Remember that the “RR” is a trilled sound formed by a flapping of the tongue against the
front roof of the mouth. Here are a few sounds you cam mimic:

  • Visualize the front of your tongue as a flag flapping in a vigorous breeze.
  • Try purring like a cat. If you've succeeded, you are approximating the “RR” sound.
  • Relax and pretend you're a child making the sound of a revving-up motor. 
  • Pretend it is extremely cold. Now make the sound of exhaling with you lips flapping together. Now do the same thing with your tongue against the roof of your mouth.

Try to say: perro (dog), carro (car), barra (bar, such as one made of metal) and hierro (iron, the

6. Remember that the single “R” is pronounced with a single flap of the tongue against the roof
of mouth.

7. Say these words rapidly as you would if they were English words, and with the accent on the
first syllable: peddo, pahdah, cahdah.

8. Congratulate yourself!  You have pronounced the Spanish words pero (but),
para (for) and cara (face).

See you in class!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Solución de pronunciación: “th” en inglés

Cuando estamos aprendiendo un nuevo idioma, existen sonidos de letras que no tenemos en
nuestro abecedario. Un claro ejemplo de esto es el sonido de dos letras juntas “th” para personas
que son de habla hispana y tratan de hablar inglés.

¿Qué pasa cuando queremos decir árbol en Ingles (tree) y número tres en Inglés (three)?. La
mayoría de veces suena similar y ése es un error que cometemos al inicio de nuestras clases. Por
esta razón me veo en la obligación de saber que alternativa darles para que pronuncien mejor.

¿Díganme si alguna vez escucharon hablar a un español?
Generalmente las personas nacidas en España tienen un acento relacionado con la pronunciación
de la letra “z”. ¿Quién no ha escuchado a un español decir zapato?

Cuando un español dice la palabra zapato, no reemplaza el sonido de la letra “z” por el sonido de
la letra “s”. Lo que ellos hacen es otro sonido (“ɵ”) que no se encuentra de manera normal en las
personas latino americanas. Ese sonido del español cuando pronuncia la “z”, es el sonido de la
“th” en Inglés.

Así que la próxima vez que vea “th” en una palabra, recuerde a los españoles y pronuncie
automáticamente la “z” de los españoles.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

15 Words for Business Meetings

1. Agenda, orden del día – agenda.
¿Cuál es el próximo asunto en la orden del día? [What's the next topic in today's agenda?]

2. Sede / Oficina central – headquarters.
¿Dónde está ubicada la sede de su compañía? [Where's your company's headquarters located?]

3. Sucursal – branch.
Nuestra compañía tiene sucursales en las ciudades más importantes del país. [Our company has branches in the most important cities in the country.]

4. Tercerizar – to outsource

5. Actividad principal – core business
La estrategia de la empresa es concentrarse en su actividad principal y tercerizar los demás departamentos. [The company's strategy is to focus on its core business and outsource the other departments.]

6. Participación / cuota de mercado – market share
La participación de mercado de nuestra compañía viene aumentando desde la adopcíon de una nueva estrategia de ventas. [Our company's market share has been increasing since we adopted a new sales strategy.]

7. Competidor – competitor

8. Competencia – competition
¿Su compañia tiene muchos competidores? [Does your company have many competitors?]
La competencia entre los principales fabricantes de automóviles es realmente feroz. [The competition between the two leading car manufacturers is really fierce.]

9. Adquirir – to acquire

10. Adquisición – acquisition
La estrategia de crecimiento de esa compañía es ir adquiriendo poco a poco empresas menores. [That company's growth strategy is to gradually acquire smaller businesses.]
Sú última adquisición fue una empresa de software en Chicago. [Their latest acquisition was a software company in Chicago.]

11. Fusionar – to merge

12. Fusión – a merge
Las dos compañías decidieron fusionarse. [The two companies decided to merge.]
Las ganancias han doblado desde la fusión. [Profits have doubled since the merge.]

12. Lanzar un producto – to launch a product

13. Lanzamiento – launch
¿Su compañía ha lanzado algún producto nuevo este año? [Has your company launched any new products this year?]
Si todo sale bien, podremos realizar el lanzamiento del nuevo producto el próximo semestre. [If everything runs smoothly, we will be able to do the launch of the new product next semester.]

14. Muestra – sample
¿Puede mandarnos una muestra de sus productos? [Can you send us some samples of your products?]

15. Presupuesto – budget
El departamento financiero es responsable por el presupuesto de la compañía. [The financial department is in charge of the company's budget.]

Vocabulario: En la oficina (in the office)

la estantería – bookshelf
el armario – closet, wardrobe
la carpeta – folder
el archivero, el archivo - file cabinet
el archivo – file
la grapadora – staplher
grapar – to staple
el rotulador – marker
el líquido borrador – whiteout
el clip – paper clip
el teléfono – telephone
el escáner – scanner
el ordenador / la computadora – computer
el sillón giratorio – swivel chair
la papelera – wastepaper basket
el calendario – calendar
el pisapapeles – paperweight
la impresora – printer
el sello fechador – (date) stamp
la almohadilla – ink pad
la calculadora – calculator
el fax – fax machine
la alfombrilla para el ratón – mousepad
las banditas elásticas – rubber bands
la perforadora (de papel) – hole-puncher
la fotocopiadora - copy machine
la tijera – scissors

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