Louis Hirsch English Arts Services
I had a 35 year career as a technical writer, working for companies like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena (now part of NASA), and a number of computer software and hardware companies creating user manuals, online training courses. and help systems.
I turned to tutoring as a second career when I retired. I immediately saw how much I enjoyed working with kids, teenagers, college and university students as a tutor. It has been a rich and rewarding second career for me.
I began tutoring when I was living in Mexico, preparing students there for the TOEFL exam, a difficult English exam that tests reading, writing, speaking and listening comprehension. I moved back to the USA in 2012 and have been tutoring here in a variety of ways. I have worked as:
*An ESL tutor, working with clients from China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, France, Lithuania, Russia, South Sudan, Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil and the USA.
I tutor English K-12, and do work for the Solano Library system as a literacy tutor for adults. I also have worked as a walk-in tutor, helping K-12 students at one of Vallejo's two public libraries.
I have taken and passed the California Board of Education's CBEST exam to qualify me to be a substitute teacher in California and have a certificate from the PRIDE reading program which enables me to work with dyslectic and slow readers using the Orton-Gillingham methodology.
I received my BA in Political Science from the University of California and spent my senior year at the Unversity of Lyons in France where I received a Mention Bien for my studies there. I did some graduate work at Berkeley but did not complete my studies for a Masters degree in Sociology.
I approach tutoring as a friend of the student rather than as a teacher, giving them an opportunity to open up and share their concerns about their education. I believe that education should be an enjoyable experience and that I am there to help them with the English language skill areas in which they need to improve.
I believe there is a key difference between a tutor and a teacher. A good tutor tailors the learning experience to the client. Meetiing common core requirements is important but establishing a love of learning and being challenged in a personal way is very important, too.
Watching students gain confidence in their reading and writing skills is very rewarding. If they are very young, I like to watch their eyes light up as they "get it". If they are middle or senior high students or college students, seeing them start to enjoy the challenge of critical reading and essay writing is a huge reward for me. Maybe the most special sense of satisfaction comes when I work with the Solano Library Literacy program and see an adult who never learned to read or write walk the road to literacy.
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Frequently asked questions
What is your typical process for working with a new student?
I always start by introducing myself. If the student is more than 5, I ask the student to introduce him or herself to me. This is done in a free pre-lesson where I discuss options with the parent(s). If requested, I do a sample lesson: partial lesson for free, full lesson at my rate. As needed, I will test the student to determine strengths, visit with the classroom or a special needs to discuss working together
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I have trained as a PRIDE reading program freelance tutor and have eight years experience tutoring.
Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.
Rates vary between $38 and $65, depending on the requirements of the situation, number of hours and days per week, and whether I drive to the client, work over the internet or the client comes to my home.
How did you get started teaching?
I started tutoring in Mexico when I was an expat living there. I began tutoring French when I lived in San Miguel de Allende in the high mountains in the middle of Mexico. I then moved to Guadalajara where I found the need for tutoring was in English, preparing students to take the TOEFL exam so they could attend universities in the United States. I have focused on tutoring in English since my return to the U.S. in 2012.
What types of students have you worked with?
I have worked with clients K-12; ESL child, adolescent and adult clients; American K-12, college, university and literacy clients; critical reading and essay writing clients; and clients taking AP English classes.
Describe a recent event you are fond of.
I recently received a phone call from a TOEFL client who was a member of the Guadalajara Symphony Orchestra who wanted to get a Master's degree at an American school of music. He came to me after failing all four parts of the exam. We worked intensely for two months and he passed all four parts easily the next time he took the exam. He attended the Philadelphia School of Music and is now a member of the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra.
What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?
If you are looking for English or foreign language training, try to get a native speaker. For an English teacher, you want someone who is sensitive to your likes and dislikes so the program can be tailored to make the course interesting for you. The great advantage of one-on-one or small group tutoring is the ability to tailor the education to the student.
What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?
IF they have been evaluated or had one or more tests where their grades were not satisfactory, they should request a private meeting with the teacher to discuss the situation from the teacher's point of view and from their own. They should come prepared to listen to the teacher's recommendations and attempt to implement them.