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August 29, 2019

The Benefits of Active Tutoring

I always stuggled trying to learn math and science. It wasn’t natural for me. Many other students and families feel this same way. These families are frustrated because they know their student is bright and smart. She is just having a hard time learning math. I believe this is more about the way that math and science are currently being taught in schools than it is about the learner. Math is being taught as a lecture. Teachers have a strict agenda of what they want to teach. They give their lecture, pass out a worksheet, and then expect the students to learn the ideas. This is outdated and simply doesn’t work.

This style of teaching also doesn’t stand up to the new research which is being published on math and science education. The research today shows that students learn math and science when they hear themselves verbalize their own mathematical and scientific thinking. This is a huge finding. Up until now, teachers have been relying mainly on lecture-based teaching. They lecture during class, maybe assign some worksheets to keep the students busy, and they send them home with work to complete.

I grew up taking math courses centered around lecture. They were all about one person presenting the ideas. The problem with lecture-based mathematics and STEM courses is that students often think they understand what is going on, but they might be missing a few small distinctions in how to complete the problem or activity. These small misunderstandings compound on each other until eventually, the student is so far behind that they need massive assistance in order to catch up. However, if students were allowed the opportunity to simply discuss the concepts every day, then they would learn them much quicker and sooner. But these courses take a lot of time to plan and a great deal of skill to teach (or rather to facilitate).

I struggled in mathematics all my life. I was blessed in college to have a professor who not only knew mathematics but also had a Ph.D. in mathematics education. She studied how to teach math. She taught the entire course in small groups. We sat at a small table of 3-4 people and we discussed the ideas *before* she taught us what the core concepts were. We were able to figure things how in our small group! It was difficult. It was challenging to learn this way because we weren’t simply spoon-fed the answer. We had to find it ourselves. We had to discover it. I took algebra I/II, and algebra III/IV this way. I also took pre-calculus and even two discovery-based calc I and II courses.

In my calculus classes, we spent weeks at our table discussing the concept of “rate-of-change.” We looked at graphs and got a good feel for what rate of change was. We learned that when you look at a graph, you can determine at what rate it is changing at any certain moment. Imagine zooming in on one small square on a graph. How fast is the line changing in that moment? That is what a derivative is. And we learned that before we had ever heard the work “derivative.” By the time she wrote the equation for a derivative on the board, we had already learned what it was. It was as if we built the meaning with our own hands. We felt as if we owned that word.

Most people walk away from calculus course not learning anything. I’ve asked many people what they learned. Try it. People say it was useless and that they didn’t learn anything. And that is a total shame! Because the concepts of calculus are so incredible. These concepts are fundamental to our lives. I think about rate of change all the time. You can apply it to the stock market, to human psychology, to climate change. What I find really fascinating, is that you can even apply rate of change concepts to your own learning. Think about it: every course moves at a certain rate. And each chapter moves at a different rate. Each chapter, therefore, has a different rate that it changes at. You have to also be able to think about your own rate of learning in each moment. How fast are you improving? Is your rate of change fast enough to learn all the material? If you aren’t learning at a fast enough rate, then you simply won’t do well in the course.

Why is active learning so powerful?

Active learning is inherently engaging. It gets students involved in the process of their own education. They cease to be passive observers of knowledge and become engrossed in their own learning. This is empowering. It teaches them that they have control over what and how they learn. And discussion is fun. Students enjoy engaging with others. It creates a sense of community.

Importantly, active learning has been shown to do two main things: 1) it increases students’ academic achievement and 2) it improves students attitude towards math and science. It does all of this while also reducing misunderstandings about science and improving their understanding of big ideas and concepts.

It works so well because it shifts learning from a one-size-fits-all approach to one that is inherently personalized and tailored to each student.

At Tutor Portland, we use an active approach to tutoring. Instead of simply giving answers or showing students how to solve problems, we ask them questions. We engage our students in critical thinking and in-depth discussions about concepts and topics. We ask questions and try to get students to connect the ideas they are currently learning to ones they learned last term or last chapter.

This is often the first time they have *ever* thought critically about the ideas they are learning in school. It’s a dramatic difference once students become engaged with the material. It changes from something abstract to something up-close and personal.

We follow a few “active tutoring” rules very closely:

  • The tutor is simply a guide, a facilitator — the tutor is not a teacher.
  • We give students time to think.
  • We create a comfortable and relaxed learning environment.
  • We ask open-ended questions.
  • Curiosity is a quality which we embody, and which we attempt to bring forth within our students.
  • Teach ethical behavior and thinking.
  • Focus the session on the student. Not on the tutor or the parent or anyone else.

These are guidelines which help us create a positive tutoring environment.

August 28, 2019

Tutoring in Portland, Oregon

Finding good tutoring in Portland, Oregon can be a unique and challenging journey. This is because Portland has many different educational sub-systems to navigate. We are firm believers that good tutors know and understand how a given school system works. A tutor has to know how a school system works in order to best help a student.

Portland has seven different public school districts and a vast array of private schools. It also has many colleges, including Portland State University, which is located in downtown Portland, Oregon. With regards to primary and secondary education, Portland has seven school districts which include: Lake Oswego, Parkrose, David Douglas, Beaverton, Tigard-Tualatin, Reynolds, Riverdale, and the Portland Public School District. The latter is by far the largest school district. There are over 45,000 students who attend one of the ~ 100 schools in the Portland Public School District.

Portland also has many private schools, including Central Catholic High School, Catlin Gabel, De La Salle, The International School, and Oregon Episcopal School, among many others. Portland is also home to OHSU School of Medicine and Lewis and Clark Law School.

I grew up in Portland, Oregon. I attended a number of the Portland Public Schools, including Duniway Elementary, Sellwood Middle School, and Cleveland High School. I also spent some time at Central Catholic High School. Growing up in Portland taught me a lot about the Portland Public School system as well as the surrounding school systems. Now I own and run Tutor Portland, which is a local tutoring company serving a countless number of schools in the Portland area. We focus mainly on mathematics, science (mostly chemistry!), and Spanish. We focus on these because we have found through experience that these are generally the subjects that Portland, Oregon students struggle most with. They are also subjects which students can learn! And we’ve seen the biggest benefits when students reach out for help in these subjects. But, we’ve also learned that not all tutoring is created equal. We’ve discovered that often a college student with strong communication and psychology skills makes for a better tutor than a Ph.D. who has trouble explaining his or her ideas. The college student is likely more approachable. And if they are experienced at working with youth and have the ability to create rapport then that’s a strong foundation for a tutoring relationship to flourish. They also have to know and understand the Portland, Oregon school system—especially the school district within Portland that your child attends. Each district has different standards and programs.

Finding tutors who are knowledgable about the various different school districts and curriculums in Portland is not easy. Portland, Oregon is a growing city. There are more students needing tutoring—and more people claiming that they can offer it! How do you sort out a trustworthy tutor from one that doesn’t really know how to teach?

We like tutors who:

  • Grew up in Portland, Oregon and know the local school system
  • Have strong communication skills & understand human psychology
  • Are down-to-earth and approachable*

*This one is really important. Learning is really hard. Math and science are difficult subjects. The last thing you need is a teacher or tutor who is uptight and too serious. That makes these subjects even more challenging and frightening to approach. When the tutor is down-to-earth and relaxed, the student will naturally feel this and adopt this attitude. In addition, math and science are generally not the most important things in a teenager’s life. And that’s fine! Tutors need to be accepting and understanding of this. If they aren’t, if they try and tell students that math is the most important thing in life, the student will be off-put by that. This puts the learning relationship at risk.

In addition, *you* are likely getting busier and busier. Your kids do sports, your daughter has music lessons, and you have to drive them around all day. Traffic is getting worse. It takes hours to get across town. That’s why many parents find it hard to secure good tutoring. Maybe they think about online tutoring, but generally realize it’s not as high quality as in-home or in-person tutoring, and they can’t monitor what is going on during online sessions. That’s why many Portland, Oregon families ask about our in-home tutoring. This is a good option because we drive out to you. This allows your student to learn in the comfort of their own home. In addition, it is just simply convenient. You save time and money not having to drive your kids all around town during rush hour.

Many families are telling us that the current education their child is receiving is inadequate. Often they have a teacher who moves too quickly for their child. Many times these teachers are by-the-book and not very accommodating to students who learn math and science at a different pace or in another way. And less-than-stellar teachers are not the only thing putting downward pressure on Portland students. The Portland Public School system is also facing budget cuts and other funding pressures. To compound this problem, Portland has a housing crisis for many families. This means that many children go to sleep each night without a stable home to sleep in. Because of this, nearly 4% of Portland Public school students are deemed homeless. This puts pressure on all of the students in school.

One neat thing about the Portland Public school district is that they offer language immersion programs. The Spanish immersion is the most popular program and it is offered at ten elementary schools. The program is also offered at the middle and high schools that these elementary schools feed into. At Tutor Portland, we work closely with these programs and provide support for students who are struggling, and students who simply wish to excel.

Many Portland schools also offer International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. The IB program is run by a non-profit organization. It allows students to take more challenging courses and receive advanced credit for them. There are four different IB programs: Primary, Middle, Diploma, and Career-Related. These programs are offered at various schools throughout the Portland area. Some of the schools are: Lincoln High School, International School of Beaverton, Southridge, Tualatin, and Cleveland High School.

The Diploma IB Program is for high school students aged 16-19. Schools all across the world offer this program. There are six core subject areas within the program: Arts, Mathematics, Language, Science, Literature, and Societies. Each subject area has specific courses that fall within it. Many schools will let students take just a few courses instead of testing for the entire IB Diploma program. For example, it’s possible to just enroll in IB English, IB Science, and IB Mathematics. And we can help you with those subjects! We’ve done quite a bit of work helping students in these challenging IB courses and preparing for difficult IB and AP examinations.

We think that the IB Program is great because they focus on developing students who are:

  • Thinkers
  • Communicators
  • Principled
  • Reflective
  • Caring

Those are great qualities for students to have.

Portland Public Schools also have other programs, which many families voice concerns over and feel frustrated with. We listen to many complaints about the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The Oregon School Board of Education put these standards in place in 2010. The standards were placed in English and mathematics. The majority of issues families have are with the mathematics standards. Families are frustrated because the Common Core Standards and their corresponding teaching methods are different than they grew up with.

The standards outline different categories for students. For example, high school students are expected to learn and gain mastery over six different areas:

  1. Numbers & Quantities
  2. Algebra
  3. Functions
  4. Modeling
  5. Geometry
  6. Statistics & Probability

As a way to gauge success within the given categories, annual standardized tests are conducted for each child. This strong emphasis and focus on persistent testing of students has led to backlash and outrage across the nation and throughout schools in Portland, Oregon. Teachers have taken to the streets to protest the Common Core Standards and corresponding standardized testing.

However, there are some organizations that support Common Core. Notably, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports it. They support it because they believe that Common Core gives our schools a set of standards which help make our students competitive in the global economy.

Regardless of the perceived benefits or disadvantages of common core, one thing is clear: it can be tricky for families to navigate. That’s why we’ve found that having a tutor or assistant who can help you greatly improves student performance and reduces stress.

However, not all students fit within the neat categories or school districts. There are many students who choose to home school, at least for a few years. We have worked with a number of families who were deciding to homeschool their children and wanted to provide some structure to their day by adding an hour or two of tutoring each weekday. We have helped create custom learning programs for students in subjects ranging from mathematics, English, to Spanish. These students often see great results in their learning. They have the advantage of being more self-directed in their learning and more focused on mastery of subjects and ideas, rather than on simply earning good grades.

The legal requirements and standards for homeschooling in Portland, Oregon are pretty simple. The government simply asks that you register your child with your local school district service. This can be done online! Parents are given a lot of leeway with how they want to educate their children. Parents can choose what subjects they want their kids to learn and what resources they will use. Parents can choose textbooks, online resources, private tutoring, and online charter schools. There are many free resources to use! KhanAcademy is a great free tool.

There are a lot of different ways parents like to use tutoring. We have covered many different ways in this post. Sometimes families choose unlimited [or full time] tutoring for their children instead of school. This is common for parents who are homeschooling their children. Other times, parents use tutoring as an addition and boost to their current education.

Portland, Oregon can be a tricky place when it comes to navigating the local school systems and finding a good tutor. This is our specialty. This is what we do. Please let us serve you.

August 24, 2019

In-Home Math Tutoring

What is in-home math tutoring?

In-home math tutoring is one of the most common and popular types of tutoring for several reasons. In-home tutoring is incredibly popular because families love the convenience and lack of stress that comes with having a tutor come out directly to your home at a time of your choosing. Families have busy schedules these days! We get it. Everyone is packed full and overloaded. You simply don’t have time to drive all over town. That’s why in-home math tutors come to you! Another reason this type of tutoring is so popular is that math is one of the most difficult subjects for students to learn. Time and time again we see students struggling in courses such as geometry and algebra and trigonometry.

How does in-home math tutoring work?

In-home math tutoring is really pretty simple. The first step is scheduling your free session. That’s right, every first time Tutor Portland member gets access to a free tutoring session. You will have an initial phone call with our founder, Eric. In this quick free introductory call, we will cover all the details prior to the session. We will ask about your child and your learning goals. We will ask some initial discovery questions to assess where exactly your student is at, and what skills and tools will benefit them the most. Then we will pick a tutor who we believe to be the best match. And we will set a time for your initial free session. 99% of the time this first session is a good fit. And nearly everyone who receives the session signs up to become a paying member.

What is an in-home math tutoring membership?

An in-home math tutoring membership is something that we offer at Tutor Portland. Our memberships are designed to be incredibly customer-focused. Our mission is to be the most customer-focused company in the world. We believe in the customer. Our founder was tired of brands not treating customers right. He wanted his brand, Tutor Portland, to stand for something. And we chose to stand for the customer. That’s why our tutoring membership is flexible. You can cancel anytime. The sessions are yours to keep, they never expire. And the first session is always free. We also have a better grades guarantee. This means that for our top two membership tiers we guarantee that your child’s grades will improve.

We set up our membership this way because we realized that customers are the most important thing in the world. Your satisfaction means everything to us. The only reason that we are here in business is to serve you. Please consider letting us do just that.

Why learn mathematics?

There are countless reasons why it’s important to learn mathematics. Many students complain about learning math. They say: “when will I ever need to learn this?” I get it! I used to be one of those students. But there are so many jobs that require math. Here are just a few positions which are generally filled by mathematicians or which math majors are normally hired for:

  • Accountant
  • Biostatistician
  • Computer Programmer
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Doctor
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Manager
  • Information Systems Analyst
  • Insurance Underwriter
  • Inventory Control Specialist
  • Investment Manager
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Professor
  • Risk Manager
  • Securities Analyst
  • Statistician

These are some of the most common jobs you can get from learning math.

Two of the most common responses for why it’s important to learn math is because A) it can prepare you for STEM-related jobs and positions and B) because math is inherently beautiful. Some mathematicians have called these the classical reasons. These classical reasons are indeed very strong reasons to learn mathematics. But there are also other reasons why someone might want to learn mathematics. Learning mathematics can add to the diversity of your knowledge. Mathematics—especially ideas such as ratios, rate of change, and simple algebra concepts—can be used to think about our world in unique and compelling ways. Mathematics can make you a better person by giving you a mental framework to think about the philosophical problems of fairness and equity. In addition, learning mathematics will make you more rational and reasonable. It will help you see that most of life is statistics, it comes down to odds and chances.

What are Tutor Portland’s beliefs about math education?

Tutor Portland believes that mathematics tutors and teachers should take an active approach. Most students don’t do well at math because they aren’t interested and they are not engaged in the course. This is usually because the course is lecture-based and they fall behind in the course. However, small & active group work allows students to engage with others. Working with others allows students to attempt to put their mathematical thinking into coherent sentences. Normally, when doing this, students will begin to see the holes and gaps in their own learning and reasoning. They can then ask questions and try to dive deeper.

Therefore, at Tutor Portland, we take an active learning approach. We don’t believe in bland memorization of facts or rules. We want students to understand the rules. We want them to feel what a derivative is. To experience it. To know what it is before they are taught the formula. This type of learning is sticky. But it also takes more time to plan and more skill to execute. That is why most teachers stick to lectures and most tutors simply do low-level homework help. Creating a good active learning environment is really hard.

We also follow what is known as the peer-assisted learning approach. This approach is built upon research showing that students make the largest learning gains when they actively teach another individual how to complete or solve a problem. We, therefore, implement that into our tutoring. Once we have sufficiently taught a skill to one of our students through active learning strategies. We then employ peer-assisted strategies and have our students teach *us* the material. This does a number of things. First, it challenges the student because they have to become the teacher for a few minutes. Second, it shows us how much the student truly understands and where they might be falling short. And lastly, this strategy leads to the biggest learning gains.

What is active learning?

Most teachers and tutors believe that their learning environment is inherently an “active” one. But that is far from always being true. Active learning environments do not generally arise spontaneously or from chance. They need to be built, crafted, composed. Essentially, courses or tutoring sessions in which students only listen are the worst teaching methods possible. These lead to the lowest learning gains. Research shows that students need to think, discuss, write, and engage. They need to perform higher-level thinking: synthesis and analysis. Interestingly, students actually prefer to be more engaged—and they learn more when they are. That’s why we take an active learning approach with our in-home math tutoring.

August 22, 2019

Portland Math Tutors

What are Portland math tutors?

When your child starts to struggle in mathematics, complain, and bring home poor report card grades, the last thing in the world you want to have to focus on is re-learning mathematics and trying to teach them. Having the best Portland Math Tutors available at your door within hours can be a massive relief. Whether your child scored and B+ on a recent exam, or whether they have been struggling with and failing math all year long, Tutor Portland is there to cover for you and help your child start earning A’s again.

In a world that is increasingly being dominated by science and mathematics, the best thing your child can do is master those subjects, and we can help with that.

How do Portland math tutors work?

Math tutoring is simple with Tutor Portland. You pay a monthly membership fee in order to have access to a top hand-picked math tutor who comes out to your home for sessions at a time that is most convenient to you.

If your child is wanting help with homework, preparing for a quiz, or learning conceptual math problems, just give us a call and we can set up tutoring. With our monthly memberships, you can rest assured knowing that a math tutor is always available for you. Most families to choose to pick one tutor and stick with them. Together, they find a weekly time and meet every week to work on homework, higher-level thinking, and general study strategies.

You are only responsible for making sure your child is fed, ready, and prepared for the tutoring session. We will cover everything else! We know how challenging it is for parents and family members to try and tutor each other. We have heard countless stories about this not working out. That’s why many families choose to leave their tutoring up to us!

What topics do Portland math tutors cover?

Portland math tutors cover a variety of topics. This includes algebra, geometry, calculus, and other concepts and courses your child might be taking. We have different membership tiers, which allow you to focus on any of these subjects for a certain number of hours per week. We are proud to offer an unlimited membership, which means that you can do as many tutoring hours as you’d like or as many as you can schedule. With this, there are no limits to the amount of tutoring that we can do. There is also no limit to the concepts or topics we can cover.

What’s Covered:

  • Arithmetic
  • Pre-Algebra
  • Algebra
  • Functions
  • Modeling
  • Geometry
  • Statistics
  • Probability
  • Pre-Calculus
  • Calculus
  • Trigonometry

How much do math tutors in Portland cost?

Hiring math tutors in Portland can range in price depending on your location, zip code, travel distance, subject, and more. Usually, tutors who teach more challenging subjects charge more than those who teach foundational material. Some organizations offer group tutoring. At Tutor Portland, we focus on individualized personal tutoring. We charge a monthly membership fee based on the number of sessions (hours) that you want to use per month. We believe this makes tutoring simply and more accessible because the rate is standardized regardless of where you live or what subject you need to learn. This allows you to efficiently budget for your children over the course of their academic career. To look up more information about our pricing, you can visit our membership page to see what each different membership tier costs.

When should I get math tutoring for my child?

This really depends on you, your situation, and your goals. We recommend math tutoring first and foremost if your child is struggling with math or if they don’t enjoy math. These two things often go hand-in-hand. People don’t like math because they are bad at it! Normally, once students start tutoring they get better at math and start to really enjoy it.

We also recommend tutoring for students who want to stay ahead of the curve. Many families today realize that college is getting more and more competitive. They are also discovering and reading about how the best careers often involve science, technology, and mathematics. Therefore, we’ve worked with many families that want to simply keep their kids ahead of the curve—and ensure that they are really mastering the material.

Some families even ask for tutoring for their kids who are very gifted at math. Often times they will ask for help preparing for an AP or IB examination. Other families have asked us to help prepare their kids for the SAT, SSAT, or ACT.

Why are math tutors important?

Math tutors are becoming more important for several reasons.

  1. With the increase in technology, students today are having trouble focusing. This is hindering their ability to learn mathematics. Some research has found that calculators and other technology are reducing children’s mathematical reasoning ability and conceptual understanding. Research has found that high-tech classrooms equipped with “interactive whiteboards” actually decrease a student’s math performance. In addition, mathematics learning software has been shown to have no benefit on student’s standardized test scores. One thing is clear: learning math the old fashioned way is what works. Learning math should be hard. It requires hours of sitting in front of a math textbook and working on it. Tutors can help explain some of these difficult ideas and get students working in the right direction.
  2. Colleges are getting more competitive. It takes higher math, science, and SAT scores to get into the top colleges these days. We can feel the rising stress among families even just since 2015 when we were started our local tutoring company. Acceptance rates are falling across the nation. Standardized test scores are inching higher and higher. Colleges such as Harvard reject students with perfect SAT scores year after year. Many students are now using the common application, which lets them hedge their bets and apply to more and more schools. In order to boost their children’s grades and mathematical understanding, many families are hiring tutors.
  3. All of the top students are working with tutors. This is causing the best students to pull further and further ahead from the pack. That’s one reason why it’s becoming more and more difficult for average good and great students to make it into great colleges. Top students are highly adept at mathematics. In addition to this, they are highly skilled in writing and English. This shows that they are well-rounded. This is why many parents are hiring subject tutors for various subjects.

What math courses do colleges expect you to have taken?

The majority of colleges expect students to have taken at least 3 years of math in high school. Many expect four years. At Tutor Portland, we highly highly highly recommend that students take four years of high school math. Colleges officially say that they don’t require it. But four years of math is largely accepted—and three years are often frowned upon by the admissions team.

Top schools also expect advanced courses such as Honors, IB, or AP mathematics. For students who want to become doctors or pursue other STEM degrees or programs in college, it is highly recommended that these students complete 4 years of advanced high school math with excellent marks in those courses. This will help set your child apart.

There are three different AP math courses offered to high school students: AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, and AP Statistics. You can learn more about AP Exams and how they are graded here.

However, across the board, geometry and algebra are the bare minimum courses that need to be completed in order to graduate from high school. The vast majority of states have adopted the common core curriculum and standards, which were discussed earlier in this article.

Most high schools follow this progression of courses:

  1. Algebra 1
  2. Geometry
  3. Algebra 2/Trigonometry
  4. Pre-Calculus
  5. Calculus

Many students will commonly stop at pre-calculus. And this order is not the same at every school. There are some schools in Portland that teach geometry first and then algebra 1 and 2 following that.

Many students believe they will never need to use mathematics, so why bother studying it? And, at first glance, that appears to be true for people studying the humanities. Why do English majors need to know algebra? But these days colleges are realizing the value of having strong interdisciplinary students on their campuses.

Why should I choose Tutor Portland?

Tutor Portland is a local tutoring company that time and time again has gotten results for students. We take our clients very seriously and want to ensure that they have an incredible experience with us. And we will do whatever it takes to make that happen!

What makes Tutor Portland unique is our focus on active tutoring. We believe in having engaging tutoring sessions. Learning should be dynamic. That’s why we focus on active learning strategies which are based on research and have been proven to drive learning results. There is a lot of recent research on math and science education. The data clearly shows that students learn mathematics when they attempt to verbalize their mathematical reasoning and thinking. This helps them realize what they know, think through challenging concepts, and fill in gaps in their own mental models. That’s why we take an active approach. We ask questions which get students thinking and which nudge them to explain their mathematical reasoning.

August 19, 2019

Home Tutor for Spanish

There are numerous benefits to having a home tutor for Spanish. Many students fall behind in their Spanish courses. This is very challenging because Spanish is a cumulative subject. In addition, once the teacher and class begin speaking entirely in Spanish it is nearly impossible to continue learning anything if you are behind. Spanish teachers naturally focus on the most gifted students, compounding the problem.

Spanish is one of the hardest languages to learn. Spanish is uniquely challenging when students fall behind because the course is conversational in nature. This causes extreme embarrassment. If a student doesn’t understand the material, it is readily apparent to everyone.

I remember when I was trying to learn Spanish. I was way behind everyone else. I had no idea what was going on. And it showed. To compound this problem, my accent was terrible. It sounded like the classic white-American version. Other kids laughed at me and teased me because. This decreased my desire to participate and learn. And this caused me to do even worse in the course! I even stopped attending many of the classes because I couldn’t stand the continual rounds of failure and embarrassment.

The Benefits of a Home Tutor for Spanish

Wow! How I wish that I would have had a home tutor for Spanish. That would have been so helpful. I could have practiced with my home tutor and learned Spanish in a safe and protected environment, before having to venture out into class to test my newfound skills. That’s why I think having a home tutor for Spanish is uniquely important. It can help students boost their confidence at a skill that inherently leaves people vulnerable. Students need to feel safe when they are learning. That is a core need that needs to be met for learning to place. But many students simply don’t feel comfortable in a traditional Spanish classroom. That’s why having a home tutor for Spanish can be an excellent supplement to traditional methods of instruction.

The bottom line is that learning any foreign language is extremely challenging. Sometimes students need every advantage they can get. A home tutor for Spanish can provide the following benefits:

Personalized Education

Decades of research shows that who you are influences how you learn languages. There are several factors that influence a person’s ability to successfully acquire a second language. A student’s attitude and motivation are paramount in learning. In addition, a person’s cognitive style, age, and personality all play key roles. This is one key reason why hiring a home tutor for Spanish is so important: they can help you create a customized personal learning program that suits your learning needs and strengths best. Having a home tutor allows you to leverage your strengths and skills. 

A lot of classroom-based learning fails because learning a second language is such a personal thing. How you learn depends on your personality. In most courses, this hinders learning. One-on-one home tutoring changes this.

Develop Spanish Speaking Skills

Learning to speak Spanish is arguably the most vital skill a student of the language can possibly develop. You simply have to be able to speak the language to improve at it. There are many factors at play here. Learning strong oral communication skills requires the ability to listen to and accurately hear the right words. Students then have to be able to quickly formulate a response, and then be able to articulate it. Often, the biggest barrier to being conversational in Spanish is lacking the proper accent. Mispeaking words by even a small amount can change the entire meaning of the sentence.

If you or your child is enrolled in a large Spanish class, the small errors that they are making either go largely unnoticed by the teacher. If they do notice, they likely simply don’t have the time or energy to correct them. Working with a home tutor for Spanish is one solution to this problem. A home Spanish tutor can focus in on the student, effortlessly hearing these small errors, and swiftly moving to correct them. These errors in pronunciation can be corrected through practice and focus and through correct modeling.

Increase Listening Comprehension

Most Spanish courses work by teaching students sets and chunks of words. They teach students large lists of vocabulary words. They also teach students verbs that pair well with them. Then they work on constructing sentences, paragraphs, and longer blocks of text and speech.

But this isn’t how conversation works. Conversations are fluid. Native speakers don’t learn Spanish the way we do. Speaking Spanish naturally is more complex and nuanced than the simplified versions packaged for us nicely in school. These are good introductory building blocks to learn. But they never help you truly master a language. Mastery comes through practice. That’s why speaking with conversational partners is one of the most valuable things you can do to learn Spanish. Home tutors are great partners because they speak Spanish fluently and are also well-versed in teaching, communication, and psychology.

Improve Spanish Accent

Most American students develop a really bad, unnatural sounding Spanish accent because they are never taught the proper way to speak. This has undoubtedly caused a lot of pain, embarrassment, and frustration over the years. However, rest assured, there are a few tricks you can learn in order to improve your Spanish accent. Many of these skills and tricks a home tutor could help you with.

One important thing is to learn how to correctly pronounce vowels. Most teachers gloss over this or move too quickly past it. But these are vitally important to learn! Another Spanish accent trick is to learn and speak your “T’s” and “D’s” more softly. Many Americans speak the “T” very harshly. This is done by placing the tip of your tongue on the tip-top of your mouth. However, most Spanish speakers don’t speak this way. They speak their T’s much more softly. They usually place their tongue on their front teeth, soothing the sound. There are countless little tricks like this to optimize. That’s something they certainly never taught me in class!

Learn Important Spanish Verbs / Verb Conjugations

Not all verbs were created equal. In fact, each level of Spanish that is taught in school has certain verbs which are critically important to master. For example, in beginning Spanish, some of the most important verbs to master are Ser and Estar. These verbs also become more nuanced as you move into higher levels of Spanish. Tener and Haber are also really important verbs to know.

And just as important as learning the verbs themselves is to be able to conjugate those verbs effectively and efficiently. Actually, most courses take the approach that in order to learn Spanish students simply need to memorize long lists of verbs. And so students begin to believe that they need to memorize all the verbs before they can start “truly” speaking Spanish. But this is false. It’s actually more important to be able to use (conjugate) a few key verbs extremely well and accurately than it is to memorize hundreds of verbs that are rarely used.

Learning Spanish Benefits the Brain

There is a lot of research being done these days on how the development of a second language impacts brain function. Studies show that people who are bilingual are better able to focus on assignments and tasks. They have higher levels of concentration and a better ability to focus in on the important details of what really matters. In addition, they are also better able to switch *between* tasks and are thus better at multi-tasking and synthesizing together ideas from different fields. People who are bilingual have also been shown to have better decision-making skills. They make more rational choices. They also have better stronger memories. They are better able to accurately recall information. People who are bilingual also have a decreased risk for developing dementia. Fundamentally—the research is clear—learning Spanish is good for your brain. It will help you succeed in all of your other subjects. No subject exists in isolation. These are some of the indirect benefits you or your student can gain from hiring a home tutor for Spanish language acquisition.

Improve Your SAT and ACT Scores

I know, it sounds crazy—right? You are probably thinking, Eric, last time I checked Spanish wasn’t on the SAT! You’re right, of course it’s not! Still, the research is clear: learning Spanish helps improve SAT scores and a student’s overall ability to score higher on any standardized testing. This is because a significant amount of evidence shows that learning a foreign language will actually improve a students English. Other studies and suverys have found that bilingual students have higher science exam scores and generally develop a better understanding of mathematics. This illustrates that all courses are connected. Learning one subject will help your child develop the skills to succeed in another.

These have been just some of the benefits that can come from hiring a home tutor for Spanish. There are countless other benefits that come from working with a one-on-one tutor for Spanish. If this is a subject that you or your student is struggling in, then home tutoring is something you might consider. Another reason might be if your child is simply curious about Spanish and wants to learn it. Or it might be that you think Spanish will be a great subject for them to know someday. These are all perfectly great reasons for you to encourage home Spanish tutoring for your child.

August 18, 2019

Tutors In Portland, Oregon

Are you looking for tutors in Portland, Oregon? The first step in looking for tutors in Portland is to know exactly what type of subjects you are interested in and also what goals and objectives you would have for any tutoring program. Portland has a very diverse set of schools and curriculum. In addition, there are many different types of tutors and tutoring organizations in Portland.

Different Options for Findings Tutors in Portland, Oregon:

1. You can always find a tutor on craigslist. This is a great idea if you are looking for a low-cost tutoring method. This is a more involved process because it would be a good idea to meet with the tutor before you have them work with your child. It would also be smart to test and see how well they know the given subject. Normally, I would only recommend working with someone off craigslist if you can verify they have a track record of successful tutoring experiences. You can also find a tutor on a website such as care.com. However, it would be smart to do your due diligence here as there have been some recent media articles highlighting concerns with care.com.

2. You can find online tutors. Online tutoring is always an option. There are many good options for this. Varsity tutors has online tutoring available. There are also websites like Wyzant. I know people who have tutored for these organizations. However, even with the rush towards everything online, most families that I know still prefer to have tutoring happen in-person. I prefer it for myself, too. I’ve been studying a lot of organic chemistry recently because I am applying for medical school soon, and I personally use in-person tutors here in Portland, Oregon when I need help. It feels so much more tangible and real and dynamic to have a tutor who is there with you in-person.

3. Another option is to find a local tutoring company. I like local tutoring companies because they are normally founded by someone who is originally from the area and knows the different local school systems. In addition, smaller companies just make sense when it comes to tutoring. I think the entire problem with education is that it has become too commercialized and too mass-market. Classroom sizes are too large. The curriculum is dictated by “common core standards” and students are taught and tested based on standardized metrics. I think that smaller, local tutoring companies are better able to customize and tailor specialized learning programs for individual families.

Other Factors to Consider When Looking for Tutors in Portland, Oregon:

Aside from where to find a good tutor, there are many other factors to consider when looking for tutors in Portland, Oregon.

1. It’s important to think about the tutor’s long-term plan and goals. One big complaint that we hear all the time from families is that they have trouble finding a reliable tutor in Portland. This is because tutoring is normally a short-term part-time job. This is because tutors are normally younger, and often still in college. There is some work that needs to be done here because often times college students make great tutors. These tutors are down-to-earth and relate very easily to students. We have found that they key distinction is determining the motivations of the tutor. We search for tutors who are motivated intrinsically to teach. We want tutors who are passionate about their subject and will go above and beyond to make sure the message gets across. We are not interested in tutors who just view tutoring as a job or as a way to make some money. These tutors are unreliable and more short-term in nature. We have discovered through experience that tutors who are passionate about their subject and about teaching tend to go the extra-mile and stick around for many years.

2. Look for local tutors!!! We cannot stress this enough. We have learned over the years that local tutors are effective because they grew up in the area and often attended some of the local schools. This means that they are likely to have connections with local teachers and within local school systems. But even more importantly, they understand the local standards and curriculum. This is important because expectations for students vary by state, city, and even school districts. For example, not all states use common core. But school districts within Portland, Oregon use the common core standards heavily.

3. Find tutors who are passionate about education and who stay up to date on the most recent trends in education. This is incredibly important. Education is changing all the time. We read about different states changing their education standards nearly every year. Within any given year it is common for 10+ states to change and adjust their mathematics or reading standards. The bottom line is that education is changing all the time. For example, New York recently reported that they will be moving away from the common core standard and towards a “next generation” learning standard. At Tutor Portland, we are constantly researching what might happen next with regards to the state of education in Portland, Oregon. We are on top of this so that you don’t have to be. We do it because we love this stuff! Education and learning are fascinating. And we want to do our part to make learning more accessible to all students.

Finding Tutors for Students at Portland Public Schools (PPS):

Some families aren’t a fan of Portland Public Schools. And we get it. Any public school system is bound to have some problems and issues. But there are several things that PPS does very well. Expert tutors (often local tutors) know and understand well how to work within the Portland Public School system in Portland, Oregon. PPS publishes many tools and resources for students, families, and educators on their website. For example, Portland Public Schools mandate that all teachers publish their syllabi online in an easy to find and read format. Tools like these help students and parents. They also help tutors who are better able to track a student’s progress and help them over the course of the school term.

Tutors for Private Schools in Portland, Oregon:

There are many great private schools located in Portland, Oregon. Some of them have their own tutoring on staff. And others offer tutoring to their students for an additional fee. But we have found that many private schools don’t have tutors available, or the ones they do aren’t satisfactory. Private schools in Portland, Oregon definitely have different standards and expectations than the Portland Public School system does. So when you’re for tutors in Portland it’s a good idea to find tutors who know the local area and understand the differences among the schools here. And the differences between the private schools here are pretty found. We like this guide as a breakdown of the top 20 private schools in Portland, Oregon. As you can see, these schools have a wide variation in their “grade” or ranking, and also in their cost.

What are some of the top private schools in Portland? There are smaller schools located in downtown Portland such as the Northwest Academy. Oregon Episcopal School, OES, is a very well known and highly regarded school in Portland. We have tutored a number of clients at OES, and have often donated to their school auction in previous years. There is also All Saints School, which is located in inner SE Portland. We have also worked with several families who have students attending La Salle Catholic College Prepatory School. La Salle is a co-ed roman catholic school. There are countless other private schools. They all have a slightly different way of running their schools and their academic departments. They have varying educational standards and they teach some of the core subjects like math and science in separate ways. Looking for a private tutor who understand these differences is a very wise choice!

Finding Tutors in Portland, Oregon for a Homeschooling Program

Homeschooling in Oregon is a pretty straightforward idea to get started with. Legally, the barriers to entry for a parent to start their child on a homeschooling program are pretty low. You simply need to register your student with your local ESD. You can do this by sending the ESD a simple letter stating your intent to enroll your student / child in a home learning program. You then have free range what you wish to teach your student. However, this is the bare minimum that you should do. Most parents attempt to find activites and chances for interaction and collaboration for their child. We have had several families, therefore, ask us about creating programs for their children who are being homeschooled. Often the student will spend the first part of their day reading and involved in self-directed learning. This means that they are engaged in their own learning and focused on things they are intrinsically motivated to learn and improve at. As the day progresses, the parents may want them to take some formal lessons. They might take their child to music lessons. There is one program we like a lot called Trackers Earth, and many parents choose to send their children there to learn great skills such as blacksmithing, animal tracking, and a wide variety of other cool and useful outdoor skills.

Often families then have a tutor come in for a few hours per day. We normally assist with subjects like reading and mathematics because these can be challenging subjects to master for some students. Normally, families that are homeschooling choose to opt for our Unlimited Tutoring Membership. Essentially, this is exactly what it sounds like. We have a no-limits approach to tutoring and to the time we can spend with your child. We have always had this as an option since we were founded right here in Portland, Oregon in 2015 – by me, Eric M Earle, a proud Portland native.

Finding Tutors in Portland for Other Programs

There are many other learning and educational goals that can be assisted through the use of an in-home tutor. For example, we have a specific math tutoring program for families who are located in Portland, Oregon. This is our most commonly used program because – let’s face it – math is hard! We have found it is one of the subjects that students most benefit from having help with. Having a math tutor is a big boost!

Another popular program is our pre-medical program. This program is geared towards seniors in high school as well as college students or post-graduate students. We focus on several things in this program. We have a core curriculum that includes intensive tutoring for any math or science courses. We focus primarily on these courses because mastering the concepts in these courses is critical for successful applications to medical school. It is also critically important to earn high grades in these courses. We do not accept anything less than an A. Neither should you. On top of this, we also assist with English, Sociology, Psychology or any other courses that your student might be enrolled in because these are very important, too. And they are becoming increasingly more important with each passing application cycle. In addition, we also help with overall strategy for acceptance into medical school. We help students focus on their purpose and their mission. This focus is *critical* for acceptance into great medical schools. We assist, therefore, with overall game plan and strategy. What jobs should I work? What type of volunteering should I do? What type of reflective writing should I do to start preparing for my medical school applications? We help with all of this and so much more.

We also have specific programs which have been created and shaped for each grade level: high school, middle school, and elementary school. We also have a program for adult tutoring. In addition to these age-specific programs, we also offer summer tutoring programs.

Thanks for much for choosing to read through our website and for your time reading this article. We really appreciate you and we would love to have the opportunity to serve you. We focus on being the most customer centric tutoring company ever known! It is our mission to serve you – to make sure that you are happy and fulfilled and that you are confident in the future of your child. We know that children are the most important and precious things in the world. We treasure that special relationship. And we work very hard to ensure academic success for even the most challenging and difficult circumstances. Thanks! We hope you are having a fantastic day.

Enthusiastically,

Eric M Earle

Founder and Owner, Tutor Portland (est. 2015)