What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
I find out what they need, and I choose textbooks that are appropriate for what they want to learn. I generally use the Socratic method, so while I tell them some things, I do a lot of listening, correcting, and encouraging.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I watch French T.V. every day. I keep up on all the latest books and CDs and all the latest teaching methods in both French and Spanish.
Do you have a standard pricing system for your service? If so, please share the details here.
I charge $30.00 and hour.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
I began teaching at age 15. It was such a joyful experience that I decided to choose that as a career.
What types of customers have you worked with?
I teach them how to speak French or Spanish. I teach them how to write correct English. I use texts that teach them current French or Spanish, that they will use when they go to the country. With advanced students, we read and discuss books, the fine points of pronunciation, and culture.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
I guess I'm very proud of the work I've been doing with a high school Spanish student. She hated Spanish, and has a very mathematical way of learning it, which drives me crazy. She's going to be a doctor, so I understand. Finally, I talked her into doing a video course with me, and she started understand and speaking the language, whereas before it was just parts of verbs in boxes.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
I've spent years getting an education and practicing my craft. You shouldn't expect me to be a bargain. My prices are actually very low, by comparison with other people of my educational background and experience. I will teach you everything I can, but you have to work very hard and be very committed if you expect to learn. A language has to be practiced and practiced and practiced. When you start dreaming in fluent French, then you have begun to learn it. Your brain will be able to do it long before the muscles in your face are capable of reproducing the sounds.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
I wish people realized that you can't learn a language in one hour a week. I can give them all the information available, but they can't learn it unless they practice it every single day. And you can't learn a language by learning a bunch of words. You have to learn whole phrases and expressions for things that you personally would say. Then you have to train the muscles in your mouth to say those expressions. It's like training for a sport. The student also has to realize that it is impossible to translate from one language to the other, word for word. For example, What is it? is Qu'est-ce-que c'est, or "what is it that it is?" in French, or I don't like cake is "Je n'aime pas le gateau," 'I not like not the cake' in French. Learning a bunch of grammar rules and vocabulary words is therefore useless. You can't have a conversation if you have to think about what word goes where and why every time you want to speak. And pronunciation is very important because you will not be able to understand what you hear, if you can't say it right.