Online English Tutoring
Many demolitions are actually renovations.
Rumi, poet and mystic (1207-1273)
As Persuasive Pen, I have been helping students with
writing for the past eleven years; as an English teacher
for forty years, and as an English as a Second Language
(ESL) instructor for more than four years. In 2006, as a
departing ESL student prepared to return to her home
country because of a death in the family, she wrote:
Hello teacher! This is X. I just
bought this notepaper last Friday. When I decided to buy
this one, that reason was you. Actually I didn’t like a
writting. I didn’t have a basic skill of write. So I’m
just worry about my grammar mistake but I didn’t worry
about that anymore. You always gave us writing work that
time, I realized If I had to mistake, don’t be afraid just
try to little by little. So I’ll try to writing so hard
and little by little! Thanks for teaching us! Probably
this letter also has a too much mistake! But I don’t care
that. I think who try to do something better than nothing
to do. Anyway I just want to say to you “Thank you”
This note runs the gamut of English errors:
capitalization, punctuation, spelling, verb tense,
sentence fragments, usage (including how and why to use
articles and prepositions), and word order.
It needs to be demolished and
rebuilt –but not at the cost of the reader’s grateful
spirit! Here is a fearful but nonetheless fledgling writer
beginning to spread her wings. It is up to me not to clip
them but to support and guide them.
think that I can teach them style. What stuff it all is!
Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can.
That is the only secret of style. --Matthew Arnold (1898),
quoted in David and Hilary Crystal's
Words on Words: Quotations on Language and Languages
(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2000).
To help this student be clear and
concise involves first assessing the errors generated from
speaking, listening, and pronunciation differences between
her native language and English; next developing a
tailor-made strategy to help her see how mispronunciation
of the spoken word results in misspelling and usage of
the written word; and then introducing exercises and
practice to improve pronunciation and writing. Here is an
example of how mispronunciation causes misunderstanding.
To the responsibility of helping native-English-speaking
(NES) and non-native-English-speaking (NNES) students be
better writers I bring the following qualifications:
than twenty years’ experience tutoring both individuals
and groups of native-English-speakers (NES) and
non-native-English speakers (NNES)
than ten years’ experience helping young and older
adults earn a GED, complete credits for their high
school diploma, learn to read, spell, and write, and
improve study skills to enter college or advance in the
Postgraduate coursework in Technical Editing, Literary
Criticism, Developmental Reading, Teaching Reading,
Troubled Student, Guidance for the Classroom Teacher,
Occupational Education Information, Language Development
for Educators, Descriptive Linguistics,
Sociolinguistics, Historical Linguistics, Research
Methods & Bibliography, Phonological Analysis,
Grammatical Analysis, Theories of Syntax, Fundamentals
in TESOL, Advanced Principles TESOL Reading/Writing, and
Advanced Principles TESOL Listening/Speaking
years study of Latin and of Spanish, two of German, and
currently Conversational Arabic
Francis Bacon’s words are quoted on
my home page because I believe them! “Reading maketh a
full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact
man.” What Bacon said five hundred years ago is as true
today as it was then: Reading expands our thinking,
discussion sharpens it, and writing substantiates it.
We in the twenty-first century must know how to navigate a
seemingly impenetrable net of information, infotainment,
half-truths, and outright lies without being ensnared in
it. How do we know what we know and what we don’t?
We can test ourselves about what we
know and understand in three ways: 1) Can we logically
analyze, paraphrase, and summarize what we read? 2) Can we
clearly explain the matter to someone else? 3) Can we
concisely write about the subject in our own words?
If not, contact Persuasive Pen for tutoring in speaking,
listening to, pronouncing, reading, and writing English.
testimonials from two former high school English
Jan was hired by me in 1976 to tutor students who were
failing or were behind in their regular classroom work.
She was highly successful in motivating students to catch
up with their classmates. Her knowledge of literature and
writing is outstanding. She is an independent thinker,
makes reasonable judgments on her own, and is a pleasure
to work with.
Jan Holmberg is an intelligent, articulate person who has
worked for us in our Paper Reader program, assisting
composition teachers in the correction and assessment of
student paragraphs, essays, and research papers. Every
member of my staff is impressed with Ms. Holmberg’s
knowledge of diction, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
When my father passed away I specifically requested Ms.
Holmberg substitute for me as I knew she could lecture,
teach, and correct work. She also substituted for me while
I was recuperating from surgery. I was very pleased with
Advanced level ESL student handed me this letter on the
last day of spring term in June 2010:
want to let you know how useful and good have been for me
since you started teaching in Intermediate Low. Since then
I believe that my English has improved steadily, not to
mention the fact that I have learned many useful language
tools that I’m using in my life each day. The reason why
I’m writing these words to you is because I have achieved
a dream that I had a long time ago. Anyway, thank you for
the constant effort you make each night, the patient and
of course the willingness that you always show toward us
so we can learn and have a better understanding of the
language. I came with one mentality and because of people
like you, few by the way, I have changed my mind. I’m not
sure if I fully embrace this culture but I have to admit
that looking at the bright side of things, you guys have
given me the opportunity to grow in my labor field and I
as a person. I have a hunch that my life is going to move
toward a new stage, and I don’t know how long I am going
to stay here, but one thing is for sure. When I will
reminisce about these moments you will be there. A million
thanks, teacher. God bless you.
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