What Do Students Say About Robin?

"You are the nicest person I've ever known in my life. Throughout a year of tutoring with you, my English has improved a lot. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be able to get a nice or fine grade." Younjoon, Korean student, July 1, 2007.

"You are the best English teacher in the whole world. I'll always remember how good and nice a teacher you are. I will miss you." Betty, Korean student, February 15, 2007.

“I do appreciate you. I learned a lot of things from your class. I know how to type because of you although I make mistakes sometimes. I know how to learn English from movies, books and music. I know how to complain and disagree in different ways, though I couldn’t get a free jacket like you. I know how to use language to do what I want. I also know how to make a joke in class although sometimes I make it too noisily. I know how to present my opinion and co-operate with my classmates.

“Anyway you are my great teacher and friend. I am really envious of the students who will have your class.

“Thank you again!” Ting Wang, China, December 4, 1997

“Well, thank you very much for your wonderful classes! Your class was the best I’ve ever had. Everybody looked so happy in the class. It’s the most important thing to study I think. You’re always my best teacher, Robin.” Nana, Tokyo, Japan, September 11, 1995.

“Robin, you’re such a fantastic teacher. You’re a dedicated person who understands us very well. I’m so happy being your student. We’re like soil; you’re a woman farmworker, but in your farm, you have to plant so many different kinds of seeds, realize you want different kinds of plants and you work hard. Sometimes your plants wilt, but you don’t give up; you still pull your wilting plants up.
Every day we’re stimulated to learn more and more. I know it’s so hard for you to do good farming in different parts of the world, but you do it very well. You’re a persistent person…Robin, you’re a zestful teacher.

Robin, you’re the door in Victoria which we’re not scared to enter, because you encourage us to do so many things. You trust us, and we feel strong with you.” …
Zilda, Brazilian immigrant to Canada May 26, 1993

ESL Tutoring in my home with 6-year-old Korean twins Yun-Ji & In-Ho includes hands-on cooking, as English bakes together with the cake.
ESL Tutoring with the twins' father, Gong-Gu, includes waiting with curiosity, patience and respect to encourage the right words to continue coming out.

What Do Other Teachers Say About Robin?

“I have written many letters of recommendation for fine teachers; however, it is seldom that I have had the opportunity to write such a letter for an instructor of Robin’s calibre. Robin is quite simply one of the finest teachers with whom I have ever had the pleasure of working....her excellent inter-personal skills, her ability to work alone with minimal supervision....her outstanding teaching skills...” Elizabeth Bloomfield, ESL Coordinator, Inter-Cultural Association, Victoria, December 7, 1993.

“...I can therefore sincerely say that Robin Roberts would be a wonderful addition to any ESL teaching staff...she is a tireless worker and a dedicated teacher...superbly organized and delightfully innovative....thoughtful, stimulating teacher who continually challenges her students...exuding a great deal of warmth and concern for their progress....richness and variety of her presentation of material....spiraling of material and the support extended to the students is very comprehensive...open and friendly, willing to help newer teachers as well as those of us who have been around for a while...” Gerry Luton, while Head Teacher at the University of Victoria, November 26, 1996

“You are to be congratulated for putting so much thought, creativity and hard work into the Tutorial/Self Access Centre ~ so congratulations!” ...Avril Taylor, Co-Director, English Language Centre, UVic: April 21, 1999

"Your participation as a Sponsor Teacher for our practicum students is recognized as an invaluable contribution to the growth of the language teaching profession and the professionalism of the Diploma.The many benefits your supervision and support afford our students can not be counted or measured. Your example in the classroom, your supportive advice, instruction and interaction, all contribute to the personal and professional development of every practicum student." ...Dr. Maggie Warbey, Senior Instructor, Department of Linguistics, University of Victoria, June, 1995 

”Thank you so much for your softness and love and intuition.  I love your insights into kids.  It’s such a pleasure to be with you.  May love grow in all your relationships ~ you give so much to each!  Thank you for the exquisite poem!” ...Evie Chauncey,  Co-Teacher at Sundance Elementary School,  Victoria, Spring, 1985

Tutoring Tanya, a Russian Ocean Science Intern

What Happens in Robin’s Typical Tutoring Class?

The short answer to this question is: “There is no ‘typical’ class. Each person comes to me with a different learning style, language background, cultural understanding, education, working background, learning abilities, age, and a unique set of goals. Thus, my classes are unique for every student.

Perhaps the only really typical class is the first one, for we don’t know each other yet, and we need to ask each other some fairly typical discovery questions to see how we will best work together. Most importantly in this first class, we will discuss goals. Is our work to be mostly on writing, reading, listening and/or speaking?  Which part(s) of each of those is most difficult?  Of these, which is most important for functioning within the learner’s current environment?

If students want to work on writing, I will ask them to bring a writing sample so I can assess where we need to start. If students want to better understand idioms and slang, we’ll talk, and perhaps read a short article until I understand where their difficulties lie. I will ask students how they have best learned a new language in the past, who their favourite teachers were, what they specially liked about those teachers. Because I have taught so many different students, I can usually understand a student’s ability quite quickly. I will make notes during that first class, and before the student leaves, we will have agreed on the goals and s/he will have learned some helpful things to take home and start practising in an enjoyable, meaningful way.

I have taught all ages, many cultures, many different learning styles and all different abilities, from beginners to advanced. I enjoy learning new techniques for teaching ESL, and keep up-to-date through reading, online studying, discussions with other ESL teachers and workshops. Because I know many different ways to teach, I like to choose from a variety of different methods to best match each student’s style, personality, goals and abilities.

I have taught adult students who have never learned how to read in their home country and who don’t understand the concept of time. For them, I may do a lot of acting, use props, and work with real-life situations to help them build a basic vocabulary.

I have taught children who are new to English, and housewives who haven’t had the chance to speak to many English people in their new culture. We have cooked and played, sung and danced together, making English come alive. Some housewives have asked me how to talk to repair men, how to understand their favourite TV shows, or how to garden in their new neighbourhood. We build new vocabulary together, practise questions and possible answers. They may listen with me to telephone calls, sometimes many times to the same recorded calls, sometimes to phone calls with a real, live person.  We will talk about such things as the difficult vocabulary, the reasons for differences in sales costs and the hidden meanings of word stress.

I have taught students who can read and write English well, but have such poor pronunciation that most English people can’t understand them. I will first start with some short listening exercises, so that I know they can hear English sound differences, before I work on helping them improve their speech. Sometimes I use a tape recorder or a computer with a microphone, but I have an even simpler technique to help them hear themselves and know when they’re right and when they’re wrong. Sometimes, if a student enjoys it, I’ll use singing, and many other combinations of helpful pronunciation techniques.

I have taught students who are EFL teachers in their home countries and only want to fine-tune their English. For them, I draw on my expertise in advanced grammar, writing, vocabulary-building and pronunciation.  I also link them to the most current dictionaries, CDs and online information.

I enjoy being creative with each student. With young students, I work more actively with books, games, pets, movies and/or food preparation in my home. Or we may learn outside in the garden or even the neighbourhood, focusing on specific vocabulary, phrases and ways to speak while integrating the new words in action. Often, we'll return to the laptop and I'll type a story the young student dictates to me, using the new vocabulary just learned. With older students, I use the laptop  for vocabulary images, reading or grammar exercises, online links, editing tools for essay, email and/or business letter writing. We also use the telephone for listening and speaking practice; with two headsets and my fingers on the computer keyboard, students find my support and clarification very helpful.

I have taught students who want to study for the TOEFL test, and I have inquiries from students wanting to study for the IELTS and other university entrance tests. Although I have the ability, I admit that these standardized tests are not my favourite things to teach. So I encourage students to join classes led by teachers who enjoy and specialize in them. If students have specific problems with a particular part of one of these standardized tests, then I am very glad to help with a variety of different practice exercises to strengthen those specific weaknesses.

I respect and enjoy the unique qualities of each of my students, and use gentle humour and lots of patience in my teaching. Because I think the best teacher is one who provides good resources and good modelling to the student, I ask lots of questions and show how best to learn from the real world. If I don’t understand something, I model how to ask questions and research together with the student in order to learn the answers. If I make a mistake, I admit it, seize it, own it, often laugh at it and most of all, try really hard to grow from it. Mistakes are truly gifts for learning.

I see the outside world as a scientist would see a laboratory, and I show students ways to observe and learn from the English they hear around them. I encourage students to make lists of questions they have as they listen to people speaking on the bus, in their workplace, in stores or in parks, and to bring their lists to class so we can work on them together. My goal is to help my students become totally independent of me in their new English world.

What Is Robin's Teaching Philosophy?

Learning sits on one end of the teeter-totter, while teaching sits on the other. They might fool each other into thinking, for a split second,
that one is higher than the other. But the moment they move, they exchange loftiness for down-to-earthiness. If only they could celebrate their communal inter-dependence, the educational process would be so much more passionate yet relaxed, powerful yet gentle.
The words of educator John Holt continually echo in my mind: "The best teaching models learning." As I strive to balance life, the flow of teaching and learning tumbles over me.

Teaching is a very humbling profession, for it leaps forth at any age, as long as the student is willing. One morning, my infant son cried when I was dressing him. I suddenly realized I was grasping his forearm too tightly. There he was, teaching me to release the tension I had held for so long, tension I had known nothing about, until he cried for me to let it go.

Years later, while teaching advanced grammar to my English As A Second Language students, I felt their pain as they struggled to grasp the use of such deceptively simple words as "a" and "the". We immersed ourselves in what each of their languages had to say about these nasty little articles. Greek had 32 different ways to say "the", which made me want to throw their grammar book through the window. Chinese had no need for "the" and "a" at all: useless frills which their culture has outgrown. Why, indeed, do we English speakers bother with an "s" when the number (2, 26, 934 or whatever) already indicates a plural? As I taught, I learned also about the many words we English miss ~ and thus how many aspects of life we know nothing about. We have no words for vocabulary considered essential for life in the various geographic centres of their worlds.

What Is Robin's Teaching CV?

Work Experience:

2003-Present: ESL Tutor, privately.
September, 2000-2003: ESL Tutor, St. Michaels University School and privately.
1993-April, 2000:* ESL Instructor, full-time at the English Language Centre in the University of Victoria, B.C. in both year-round (ELPI) programs and in summer (ELPS) programs. I supervised many ESL Student-Teachers during this time. In the last two years at UVic, I also set up a very popular drop-in ESL Tutorial centre, which hundreds of students still use, and for which I wrote an 80-page manual now used by other university ESL teachers.
1992-3: ESL Instructor, full time, Inter-Cultural Association, Victoria, B.C.
1992, Summer: ESL Instructor, University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C.
1985-89: Elementary School Substitute Teacher, Victoria, B.C.
1985-89: High School Tutor, Victoria, B.C.

1968-70: Elementary School Teacher, Grades 3-6, Ladysmith, B.C.


1992: Diploma in Applied Linguistics, University of Victoria, B.C.
1970: Bachelor of Education Degree, University of B.C., Vancouver, B.C.
1966: First Year Arts, McGill University courses at Neuchatel Junior College in Switzerland. When I attended Neuchatel Junior College, it offered first year university courses, but now it offers only pre-university courses.

1965: High School Graduation, West Vancouver Secondary School, B.C.

Other Education:

1992, '98, '99 & 2000: Attended TESOL Conventions in Vancouver, Seattle & New York.
1983-89: Co-Counselling Classes & Workshops in Victoria & Vancouver, B.C., and in Seattle & Olympia, Washington, USA.

Other Related Experience:

International Traveler: 1 year in a homestay and at university in Switzerland, 9.5 months in Greece, 3.5 months in Bali, Singapore, Malaysia & Thailand, 7 months in England, Wales & Ireland, 1 month in Turkey, weeks in Austria, France, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Hungary, the Caribbean & Brazil, lived 13 years in the USA, drove across the USA and Canada several times. I understand what it means to live in other cultures and struggle with foreign languages. I learned French in Switzerland, understand some German, and a little Greek and Spanish.

Parent of 1 son and Step-Parent of 3 children
Homeschooling Teacher for 2 children for 6 years

Robin's U.B.C. Bachelor of Education Certificate
Robin's U.Victoria Diploma in Applied Linguistics

Where & How Much?

At My Home: I teach English as a Second Language in my home, near the University of Victoria. To arrange an appointment to discuss your English goals and set up a schedule, please either email me or phone me at (250) 477-2751.

Rates: Canadian $40.00/hour for one student; $55.00/hour for 2 students together in my home.

OnLine: I also teach English as a Second Language OnLine. I help with conversation, speaking and pronunciation through Skype. After each session, I send a follow-up email with key points of the conversation transcribed, new vocabulary illustrated, and/or links to pronunciation corrections and online exercises. I have also helped students online with writing and grammar, using highlights and footnotes and/or Microsoft Word's Track Changes.                                  

OnLine Rates: Canadian $40.00/hour. You can pay with PayPal online at the beginning of each tutoring session. Email me to get started.




Watch your English bloom.