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Tutor profile: Dorian B.

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Dorian B.
Cambridge educated English & German tutor
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Questions

Subject: Spanish

TutorMe
Question:

How do we know when to use "venir" rather than "ir"?

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Dorian B.
Answer:

The difference between "venir" and "ir" is a common source of confusion for learners of Spanish – given that English and many other European languages do not make the same distinction. Importantly, the difference in Spanish is "situational" and CANNOT be explained by simply translating the two verbs: venir = come; ir = go. For instance, it would be entirely correct in English to say: "Sure, I'll come to your party if you invite me." In contrast, the same statement in Spanish would usually employ the verb "ir": e.g., "Claro, iré a tu fiesta si me invitas." But why would using "venir" in this context be incorrect? The reason for this is that the person who is speaking is NOT at the place/venue where the party will take place. However, if they were actually standing inside the house where the party preparations are underway, they would, in fact, say "vendré a tu fiesta" – as in English. In other words, what matters is where the person who is speaking finds themselves in relation to the place that is mentioned or implicitly referred to. To make this point clear, it is worth switching perspectives within the example of someone being invited to a party. Let's say the host asks: "Are you coming to my party?" The correct Spanish version of this question would be: "¿Vienes a mi fiesta?" Unlike the invitee, the host may actually be at home – where the party will take place – and therefore uses "venir" rather than "ir". But even if the host happened to be at some other location, the use of "venir" would still be permissible, given that the host is himself/herself "central" to the party – also indicated by the use of the possessive pronoun "mi fiesta".

Subject: German

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Question:

Does fluency in English make it easier to learn German?

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Dorian B.
Answer:

A balanced answer to this question is that being fluent in English is a valuable asset when learning German, while certain differences can be tricky to wrap one's head around. Regarding vocabulary, the lexical similarities between these two Germanic languages make it easy for English speakers to guess the meaning of many words in German and to memorise them more quickly by linking them to their English cognates. For instance, an English speaker who has never studied German should still be able to recognise some of the most common verbs by focusing on the word stem before the standard German suffix "-en": e.g., bringen (to bring), kommen (to come), finden (to find), sagen (to say), lernen (to learn). In contrast, English and German grammar is characterised by a number of basic differences that can be somewhat confusing - for instance the existence of three definite articles (der/die/das) as opposed to the English "the". That being said, there are many grammatical similarities that make English a useful key to unlocking the German language.

Subject: International Relations

TutorMe
Question:

How does the right-wing turn in Indian and Brazilian politics inform our understanding of the relationship between neoliberal policies and nationalism?

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Dorian B.
Answer:

The electoral victories of the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India and of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil are widely recognised as part of a global ascent of right-wing populist leaders. In India, the brand of nationalism championed by the BJP is premised on the political ideology of Hindutva, invoking Hindu identity and unity as essential themes while stoking sentiments of ethno-religious majoritarianism – to the exclusion of Muslims and other minorities. This marks an important parallel to Bolsonaro’s version of nationalism, whose electoral slogan – ‘Brazil above everything, God above everyone.’ – is likewise premised on exclusionary ideas of the nation, personhood, and belonging. While considerable attention has focused on the authoritarian and anti-democratic nature of these two projects, an equally crucial line of research has sought to elucidate their economic and specifically neoliberal underpinnings. This latter approach has helped bring to the fore what Priya Chacko describes as a “growing melding of neoliberalism and nationalism.” Conceptually, this trend is paradoxical insofar as neoliberalism is closely associated with processes of deterritorialisation, the disruption of traditional social structures and identities, and the weakening of the nation-state’s regulatory power vis-à-vis corporate entities. On the other hand, nationalism refers to an ideological outlook that emphasises sovereignty and a territorially based sense of identity and unifying national culture. However, it is not merely the observation that these two disparate postulates are being combined in rhetoric and practice that provides cause for further scrutiny. Rather, it is the fact that this connection has enabled the forging of equally atypical social coalitions that lie at the heart of right-wing populist movements and their electoral victories. As a result, far-right leaders like Modi and Bolsonaro have been able to embrace neoliberal tenets while mobilising supporters from across the social spectrum – including economically disadvantaged groups – in realignments that defy socio-political traditions.

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