Born and raised in Illinois, USA, I first developed a passion for teaching as an assistant martial arts instructor at the age of seventeen. Two years later I took my first trip abroad, travelling to Ecuador, South America as part of a volunteer conservation project. Upon arriving home, I began earning my one-year Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certification from Parkland College. The trip to Ecuador also inspired me to learn Spanish and after studying at the University of Illinois at Springfield for a couple of semesters, I signed up for the study abroad program in Colima, Mexico. The semester abroad greatly improved my Spanish, but I felt that in order to become fluent I would have to further immerse myself in the language. In 2011 I flew to Honduras to study for three weeks at a language institute and live with a local family. When the three weeks was over I was not ready to go home and I found a volunteer position where I could teach English and further develop my own language skills. I lived in Honduras for the next four years, met my wife and got married. We recently moved back to the United States and I became certified by the state of Texas as a dual language educator. I spent last year working in the Texas public schools teaching fourth grade reading, writing, and social studies. This year I am excited about getting back into teaching English as a second language and working with some translation projects online.
I still practice martial arts, and currently attend Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes five times a week. I also enjoy reading books, watching documentaries, going to museums, and exploring the outdoors. Some of my favorite subjects are history, politics, and literature.
As an ESL professional with over 10 years of experience teaching English and 2 years of online teaching experience, I am well qualified to help you reach your language goals.
I earned a one year TEFL certificate from Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois in 2005. The course included two full semesters from highly qualified, experienced professors, which covered business, online, and conversational teaching methods. We were given ample classroom practice, and I began my teaching career at that time, tutoring foreign students on campus. The degree provided me with a head start, allowing me to understand the importance of organization and having a flexible game plan that is custom fit to the student, before conducting any ESL session.
In 2008, after studying Spanish in Colima, Mexico for a semester, I finished my bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield. The focus of the degree was Spanish, history, and political science. I spent the next couple of years saving money to move abroad while tutoring foreigners in my hometown in one on one sessions, and occasionally traveling to Costa Rica to help a friend with his ESL project.
Since then I have taught at bilingual schools, private language institutes, and volunteer projects in Honduras and Panama. I began teaching English online in September of 2013, and I have received very positive feedback from the students. I look forward to furthering my online teaching experience for years to come.
My approach is conversational and communicative, which means I want to keep students interested and talking as much as possible. One of my heroes, the legendary martial artist Bruce Lee was quoted as saying, "If you want to learn to swim, jump into the water. On dry land, no frame of mind is ever going to help you." This is true for language acquisition as well. If the goal is to speak fluently, the best thing to do is to start speaking. Grammar and good technique, will come with time. As an instructor, it is easy to correct students' mistakes, and give advice once they have the confidence to express themselves. In turn, it makes it easier for the learner, as they are receiving constant feedback and encouragement.
The first step, therefore, is to gain the student's confidence and find some common ground. In order for a student to be interested in a conversation, the conversation must be interesting to them. I like to find out what my students are passionate about and use that to our mutual advantage. When people get on a roll about a subject that they really care about, they often forget that they are studying a language. They become so wound up in the message that they are trying to convey, that they are no longer consciously thinking about grammar or pronunciation. They just want to be understood. That to me is the ultimate goal of language learning; understanding others and being understood.
Grammar and pronunciation will develop all by themselves, just as when a child learns a language, if time and commitment are given to conversation. That is not to say that understanding grammar is not important. However, if the choice is between spending an hour reading a grammar book, or having a conversation with a native speaker, I believe that the goals will be attained faster and remembered longer in the conversation.
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