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Tutor profile: Apoorva Y.

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Apoorva Y.
Teacher for Five Years
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Questions

Subject: SAT II Spanish

TutorMe
Question:

¿Cuales serían tus consejos principales para conseguir un 800 en la prueba SAT Spanish II?

Inactive
Apoorva Y.
Answer:

La prueba exige un nivel A2/B1 de español y consta de dos partes: una de auditiva y otra de lectura. También hay una versión sin la auditiva. Pero es mejor hacer la versión con la auditiva. Como puedes ver, no hay una sección de escritura ni de oral. Por tanto, se puede concluir que solo hace falta una competencia pasiva de le lengua. Aún así, te aconsejaría que no estudies de manera pasiva. No es posible adquirir un vocabulario amplio ni un nivel alto de comprensión sin prepararse de manera activa. Además, no vas a gozar de tu preparación si lo haces solo de manera pasiva. Y como verás, gozar es la parte más importante de prepararte para cualquier examen. Trabaja con Mapas Mentales y Tarjetas Flash para memorizar el vocabulario. Repasa las palabras aprendidas cada día. Úsalas en frases originales. Hacer ejercicios de gramática básica, pero no te enfoques en ello. Para mejorar la parte auditiva, ve todas las películas y series de Netflix que puedas. Escucha podcasts sobre temas que te gusten. Toma apuntes de vocabulario. Intenta captar los puntos principales de la audición. Cuando tengas un nivel bastante alto de comprensión (tanto lectora como auditiva), empieza a hacer modelos de examen. Cronometrar a ti mismo y calcula tu puntuación. Así podrás seguir siendo motivado y además sabras qué te falta exactamente para mejorar. En pocas palabras, deberías leer mucho, escuchar mucho y hacer muchas pruebas antes del examen. Y ya está. Seguramente lograrás el 800 que tanto deseas.

Subject: Study Skills

TutorMe
Question:

Enumerate some effective study strategies for teaching oneself Spanish as a foreign language and achieving DELE certification/SAT II/AP scores in the same.

Inactive
Apoorva Y.
Answer:

When studying a foreign language by yourself, you need to pay equal attention to both groups of skills—the input-heavy reading and listening, and the output-heavy speaking and writing. The important thing is not just doing the above, but doing them in a way that takes your auto-pedagogic goals forward. Active learning instead of merely passive is perhaps the single most strategy you can utilise. For instance, while reading a text in Spanish (appropriate for your reading level of course), pay special attention to grammatical structures that you’ve studied but not fully internalized and vocabulary that you might recognise passively but be unable to use actively in writing or speech. This gets your brain’s pattern-recognition neurons working, and you learn to understand meaning from contextual cues. To add even more value to your reading sessions, read the text out loud to work on pronunciation. This is particularly helpful during the A1-A2 stages. For listening, always choose podcasts and radio programs in tune with your interests. Mine were history and literature, consequently I found Spanish language acquisition using them far easier than I would have had I chosen, for example, chemistry podcasts. In the intermediate-advanced (B2) stage, get in the habit of making extensive notes on the conferences and podcasts that you listen to, since that skill is tested on the DELE, SAT II and AP. For developing writing skills and beginning to think in Spanish, the most interesting way is to keep a journal, and write 100 words a day to begin with. You can write about your thoughts, a movie you watched, how your preparation is going, etc. And now, we come to the important bit. It is not enough to just write. Get your writing corrected by a tutor or by a native speaker who might not be a qualified teacher, but would instinctively know whether you’re making errors. For both writing and speaking practice, I suggest paying a small fee to the native speakers you might be interacting with so that there’s mutual accountability. If you’ve committed a certain amount of money per day, be it $5, you would ensure that the Skype session happens or that you write 100 words to send to the native speaker. And of course, they don’t feel as though you’re taking advantage of them by seeking free writing or speaking practice. As a learner, I don’t suggest language exchanges because often each party wants to get more practice while correcting few errors in return. You need to focus on your priorities, and if that means parting with a small sum, then so be it. Along with accountability, motivation is the single biggest attribute you must cultivate in order to learn a language by yourself. Motivation can come from setting yourself concrete deadlines, like signing yourself up for the DELE exams, or from immersing yourself in Spanish movies, music and TV shows. Being able to watch films and TV without subtitles is a thrill, and once you start pursuing that thrill, the grammar and vocabulary will take care of itself. Use Netflix, RTVE.ES and Atresplayer to source Spanish content. However, keep your learning active by taking vocabulary notes. Feel free to act out your favourite scenes and lines. Performance helps the vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar structures stay with you. And finally, track your progress and make creative notes using bullet journals and mind maps. Follow the tags #languagelearning, #bulletjournal and #mindmaps on Pinterest for visual inspiration. Just in case you’re wondering if this advice is reliable, you only need look at my experience: I started in January 2019 with an A2 in spanish and by May I had acquired a C1.

Subject: Literature

TutorMe
Question:

It has been said that Elena Ferrante writes as though Jane Austen got very, very angry. Explain the comparison in brief. Do you agre with it? Do you find it unfair to either writer?

Inactive
Apoorva Y.
Answer:

One wrote during the early 19th century; the other during the early 21st. One writes of relatively affluent upper middle class women in British polite society; the other’s protagonists are working class women in post World War II Italy. One is known and canonized for her stylish wit and banter among her characters; the other tells her most famous story in first person, detailing the inner lives of her women protagonists. And finally, one’s name is an oft-derogatory, not-really-in-jest synecdoche for ‘chick-lit’ focused primarily on romance and marriage; the other is a pseudonymous contemporary sensation synonymous with chronicling the complex friendships of women like no other. What both are (and should rightfully be) acknowledged for is their insistence on writing full-bodied, three-dimensional women and populating their novels with far fewer male characters than most novels of their respective times. In Austen’s work as well as Ferrante’s, the men have relevance only in so far as they drive the women’s character arcs, and that is undoubtedly a refreshing inversion of the phallocentrism of much classical literature (though contemporary literature either cannot be completely absolved of that charge). Austen wrote for her time—her milieu comprised genteel folk, where labouring for a living was considered unthinkable by the aristocracy, and women had limited offices to occupy (wife and mother being chief among them) and unlimited time to boot. Her characters, then, cannot be faulted for obsessing with marriage and position—they were allowed very little else in life. Ferrante, by contrast, writes of women who grow up in poverty and spend a major part of their lives fighting their way out of it in a system designed to not help them along. They have money on their minds too, though the stakes are infinitely higher than what they could ever have been for Austen’s women. That is not to say marriage and motherhood don’t feature in Ferrante’s work, or that the limitations on women’s lives were unfelt by Austen’s characters. For Elizabeth Bennet, not having a good marriage would have entailed not having a grand house because her father’s estate was entailed away to an obnoxious distant male cousin, but Lila Cerullo’s marriage brings with it marital rape along with riches. Patriarchy operates on Elena and Lila in many of the same ways it does on Elizabeth or Catherine or Marianne—it’s just that the former pair of women feel the additional consequences of class. Physical violence, abuse, rape don’t feature in Austen’s work—though historically they were very much prevalent against women—but are everyday, normalised occurrences in Ferrante’s world. This is not to say Austen or her women aren’t aware of the injustice of their social location—this awareness informs almost all the choices her characters make—but their expression in the novel takes the form of ironic asides and dramatically charged flirting. Ferrante’s characters are angrier because they have very good reason to be, but what they have in common with their Austenian counterparts is how little choice they have with respect to almost anything when compared to their male peers, and how much of their own brilliance they must hide to be deemed worthy matches. Austen’s women are free to worry about happiness in marriage because their meals are taken care of, whereas Elena and Lila acquire that kind of security much later in life. I wouldn’t say that the comparison between Austen and Ferrante is unfair to either writer. Austen’s work is undeniably a predecent when it comes to ecriture feminine, and Ferrante’s work is its most recent avatar. What the comparison does do helpfully is remind us how class intersects with gender to alter women’s experiences, and how little thing have changed in essence for women from the 19th century to the 21st. However, making such a comaparison often entails that Austen’s work is frivolous, ‘light’ reading, and that slots in rather conveniently with what women’s work and women’s intelligence have been stereotypically perceived to be across history. Women don’t need to be writing angrily to make their stories heard—sometime light does it. Biting satire, acerbic wit and mordant humour are called so for a reason. But the anger of stories like Ferrante’s is equally valid and both modes of storytelling deserve their own space.

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