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Tutor profile: Jeffrey W.

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Jeffrey W.
Ivy-Educated College Counselor, Tutor, and Writing Professor
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Questions

Subject: Spanish

TutorMe
Question:

Should I go to my teacher's or professor's office hours?

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Jeffrey W.
Answer:

When you are a university student, going to your professor’s office hours is an important part of your intellectual journey. A good time to go is early in the term before other students from all of your professor’s classes start showing up for help with papers. By going early in the term, you will have the chance to casually discuss ideas from lectures that are still opaque to you. But more than that, you will likely have rich and casual conversation based on your intellectual interests or an interpretation of a text that you are reading in your class. Pragmatically, it will give you a head start on your papers. Also, when your professors know you personally, they will probably take an interest in helping you down the line in your academic career. However, you should not wait until university to make use of your teachers’ office hours. Going to office hours can be a game changer for you in many ways: 1. Getting help from a teacher enables you to tackle what is challenging for you, step by step. A weekly visit will clear up any problems before they become so big that you do poorly in the course. 2. If you are struggling with a subject, you may develop a psychological block to doing the work. If you like your teacher and they are willing to help you, it can make a challenging subject less frightening. For example, I never really liked math, but I had a Geometry teacher I really connected with, and suddenly I found myself enjoying math for the first time. 3. Meeting with a teacher regularly can help you discover talents and opportunities. Let’s say you are just learning to write stories in English. There is only so much a teacher will tell you in the comments section. When you visit them and talk to them about writing, you may be inspired to write more and your stories will be better when you are inspired. You are already on your way to developing a talent. 4. When you meet regularly with a teacher, you make learning a part of your life. No longer are you just a face in a crowded room. Instead, you will start seeing yourself as part of a learning community. You are not merely a student being graded by a teacher, but a human conversing with another human about ideas that matter to you.

Subject: SAT

TutorMe
Question:

How can I get better at multiple choice questions?

Inactive
Jeffrey W.
Answer:

Perhaps you are studying for the SSAT as part of your application to a private school abroad or an international school at home. You may be preparing for the SAT or ACT to apply to a foreign university. Either way, you will be taking multiple-choice tests. As stressful as it may seem, the multiple-choice exam can be made into a game. So, before you study the content of the exam, make sure you understand the game well. One easy way to start “playing” is to download a language application, like Duolingo, and begin to study a foreign language. Start working on your process-of-elimination skills. Even if you absolutely have no idea what the answer is on a multiple-choice exam, there is no need to panic. This is a good time to show just how clever you are. You can get the answer right even though you don’t know the answer by using multiple-choice strategies. Make this into a game. There are a number of books on strategic guessing for multiple-choice exams. Read these tips from a summary of William Poundstone’s techniques in Business Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/4-ways-to-outsmart-any-multiple-choice-test-2015-6. 1. Get some practice tests for the SAT, the SSAT, or ACT. 2. Gather some friends that are willing to play the game with you! Organize a night at one of your homes with food and refreshment. 3. Group everybody into teams of two. 4. Go through a section of the exam that is difficult for you, like the verbal or reading comprehension. 5. If you are doing the verbal section, then do five questions at a time and set the clock for four minutes. If this is easy, then reduce the time to three minutes. Set the least amount of time possible for most people to come up with an answer. If you are doing reading comprehension, do one passage and all its answers in a sitting. Figure out how much time to allot to the section in the same way as you did for the verbal. If it is challenging for most people to finish, and some teams cannot finish, then you have hit the right time allotment. 6. When you are answering questions, make sure to use the multiple-choice strategies every time. 7. After each section is done, each team will give their answers. In order to get it right, they have to explain how they arrived at the answer using the multiple-choice strategies. Even if you get the correct answer, you get 0 points if you cannot show which strategies you used. 8. At the end of the night, pick the top three teams and give prizes to each team.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

Can you give me some tips for improving my conversational skills, writing, and comprehension abilities in a foreign language?

Inactive
Jeffrey W.
Answer:

Learning a Language the Fun and Active Way There are many people who live abroad and never make big improvements on their ability to speak and write in a new language. There are tips for making language learning a fun game that you practice on a daily level. When you learn a language, you immerse yourself more fully in a new world. That process will allow you to experience yourself in exciting ways. Here are some ways to make learning a foreign language an interesting activity even before you leave home. 1. Read about a topic of interest in English. Whether you are interested in American basketball or British rugby, anime, politics, or art, read about it in the English media. Make sure that you write down the words that you do not understand and look them up right away. 2. Make flashcards. All those words that you looked up from your daily reading should go on flash cards. You can pull these out when you have a little time, such as waiting for a bus, standing on a line, or if you find yourself with nothing to do. Flip through them. 3. Use the new words in conversations. When you are in English class, writing in English, or speaking in English with a friend, make an effort to use the word in a sentence. Only by using the words will you truly learn them. In the process, you will be able to express yourself with more precision and depth. 4. Work on your grammar. Whenever you learn new grammar, apply it in writing and conversation. Let’s say you learned some of the modal verbs, like could, should, might, or may. Rather than use “maybe” all the time, as many speakers of Chinese do when they speak English, use a modal. Instead of saying, “Maybe I will go to lunch,” say, “I might go to lunch.” Or, instead of “maybe people should jog every day,” say, “People ought to jog every day.” 5. Listen to yourself. If your teacher has corrected you, but you continue to make the same mistakes, it will help to listen to yourself. Are you having trouble telling the difference between the “t” and “th” sound? Then record yourself reading a paragraph, and catch your mistakes. Repeat this until you have read the paragraph with perfect pronunciation. 6. Read the comments to articles or YouTube videos. A powerful way to learn conversational English that you will not find in a textbook is through the comments sections of any online article or video. Choose a YouTube video you enjoy, and try to understand what the comments mean. Write down anything that does not make sense to you and ask a native or your teacher. This is a fun way to learn new everyday expressions and gain insights into a foreign culture.

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