My school and university education prepared my thorough knowledge of French and my frequent involvement with French speaking through travelling (my eldest daughter is a translator living in France) and teaching the language keeps me abreast of current topics and terminology at exam levels. I regularly give one-to-one sessions as a private tutor in French, whether the customer is seeking conversation practice or to improve examination technique.
I aim to substantially improve confidence in approaching French exams. Firstly, the ability to speak on a specified range of subjects and being able to express opinions is a prime requirement of exam boards at GCSE and A level. I gradually build up the vocabulary base needed for discussion and train exam candidates to respond confidently with statements and opinions. I work on the basic grammar structures needed to respond to listening and writing questions, for the learner gains confidence when grammar structures are explained and memorised. Exam practice papers and homework ensure that students get plenty of practice in the skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Audio clips of past papers for listening skills are available to download, as are past papers for reading and writing, except for the most recent ones in the previous or same academic year.
At A level, a knowledge of current affairs in France is expected, therefore I like to give students information from internet and media sources, such as magazines and newspapers. The student will need to immerse him or herself in further reading provided by school libraries and internet research at home, with the intention of expanding their vocabulary to an advanced level. As a French tutor, I usually conduct at least 50% of the lesson in French.
My love of Italian began at school where I was able to study Italian for A level, gaining an A grade from beginner to exams in two years. I travel regularly to Italy in order to keep my language skills up to date. I love being an Italian tutor for classes and individuals, whatever the level and find that students are enchanted by all that Italy and Italian culture offers.
People wish to learn Italian for a variety of reasons. Often it is so that they will enhance their holiday experiences in Italy and be able to communicate in simple Italian in shops, restaurants, hotels and when travelling as a tourist. Many people are buying or have bought properties in Italy and wish to further their knowledge of the country and its language as an investment in their future. Others learn Italian for family reasons in order to communicate with relatives. Italian lessons on a one-to-one basis, or in small groups with an Italian tutor are the perfect way to gain speaking confidence in a friendly informal setting. The learner can reinforce their speaking and listening by home study CDs and interactive links on www.bbc.co.uk/languages. Many adults also like learning in classroom lessons, via the Northamptonshire Adult Learning Service where I am also an Italian tutor.
Secondary school students are sometimes able to study the language at school, although this is rare since Italian is not usually offered at comprehensive schools, and only occasionally at private schools. Adult learners may be able to take exams through a Further Education College or other registered exam centre in their locality. I have experience of teaching advanced learners who have succeeded at GCSE with A* to C grades. The ability to speak with confidence in the Oral exam is always a prime target in my Italian lessons and I systematically build up the vocabulary needed for this exam. The reading, writing, listening and speaking parts of the exam are very similar across the exam boards, although AQA and Edexcel are the main boards which offer the qualification at GCSE and A level.
English as our first language is a huge advantage to those of us born British or now resident in Britain. A competent expression of English, both spoken and written, is necessary to achieve good marks in English Language exams which are the key to accessing higher education and employment both in Britain and abroad. This is why parents wish their children to have the best chance to gain a higher grade than anticipated in English, or at least to secure the desirable grade C their teenagers need at GCSE to continue to A levels and higher education. One in seven children leave Primary education without being able to read and write and many others struggle to attain the higher bands of National Curriculum levels 3-5 at primary school. Some parents wish to give their children a head start, to prepare them for secondary education by booking lessons with a private English language tutor.
I have several years experience as an English tutor to both primary and secondary school pupils and have helped average ability GCSE students to gain a C grade or higher in English. Good habits of learning correct grammar are formed early on. These are punctuation and sentence structure, using all the building blocks of sentences such as nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs and conjunctions. These can be practised in the contexts of inventive writing and exam style answers to comprehension questions. I assess the student's spelling ability and then use different strategies to increase his or her confidence, including phonetic sounds, spelling strings and repeated practice. The ability to read a text and think carefully about it, so as to answer questions on it, is also a skill which improves with practice.
These skills are taken to a higher level for GCSE students who can access practice papers in the required examination board. As an English tutor, I can help students to understand the questions and guide them in writing coherently and clearly. I often use literary texts which may be part of their exam syllabus, in order to train them in the skills of literary analysis, where answers on a text must relate closely to the question. I attempt to help students to see that they have the ability to write in exam conditions, if they follow certain rules, learn their set texts and use their own experience of life and training situations. Much inventive writing asks the GCSE student to draw on their knowledge of school and society, so the expression of English is as much dependent on their imagination as on their ability to write accurately. Links to exam websites are as follows: