Spanish That Sticks

Spanish That Sticks

5.0 (5)
1 hire on
1 employee
5 years in business

About this pro

Hello! My name is Ellen. I am a certified Spanish teacher in New Jersey with over eight years of experience teaching and tutoring Spanish for students in grades K-12 and adults.

The key to learning to communicate in a new language is to hear and use the language in context. I teach vocabulary using stories that I create with my students, and recycle that vocabulary in conversations, role plays and new stories we create together. By acquiring language naturally in this way, students are able to retain vocabulary and grammatical structures much more effectively than when they memorize long lists of vocabulary or perform grammar drills. I teach Spanish that sticks!

Acquiring language this way is the best way to learn, but as a tutor I know that sometimes you just have to pass your teacher's grammar test. I have a ton of resources and methods that I use to help my students internalize vocabulary and grammar structures, and extensive experience working with students with learning differences.

I love teaching Spanish because it is all about communicating. I learn so much about my students from our conversations. Teaching one-on-one, I can create lessons specific to a student's learning style and interests. It is incredibly rewarding to witness a student grow from a beginner to a confident speaker.

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Maplewood, NJ 07040
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5 Reviews


  • Cathy Weeks

    Ellen worked with my daughter and made a big difference to her Spanish skills in just 7 weeks. She was professional and proactive. She updated my husband and me after every session about what had been covered and what needed to be done before the next, and also created helpful and creative notes to support my daughter in studying the material. The other night, my daughter told us, “That was the best tutoring I’ve ever had!” I highly recommend working with Ellen.

  • Juana Grey

    Ellen is responsive and flexible. She is really helping my son with his reading.

  • Juana Grey

    Miss Ellen is helping my son learn English for school. In the school in Venezuela he learned some English but now he needs so much more. Reading is hardest for him. Lessons with Miss Ellen are helping him do better.

  • Nancy Kock

    I liked the one-on-one. I like all of the on-line resources I had access to. I really liked the ability to read along in text (printed out) as I heard and saw the teacher speak the conversation we had had. I liked the encouragement I was given.

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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

What I do with a students depends upon his/her needs. If I am working with a student who simply wants to improve his/her Spanish-speaking ability, I assess my student and set proficiency level goals (ACTFL proficiency levels measure a student's ability to understand and be understood by a native speaker). Some students only want to improve their listening and speaking; some students want to improve their reading and writing skills as well. With beginners, I focus on the highest-frequency 7-16 verbs and teach them in the context of stories, focused conversations and reading and listening comprehension practices. I incorporate authentic resources (resources from the Spanish-speaking world like menus and newscasts) as students are ready for them. I teach grammar through the context of the stories and articles we work with, and not as the focus of a lesson. As optional homework I have my students journal and learn songs and chants to reinforce vocabulary and structures. With more advanced students, the focus vocabulary and structures typically come from our conversations and Spanish articles and video clips that I find that match my student's interests. I also use the book Breaking Out of Beginner Spanish to teach important next-level verbs and expressions.

If I am working with a student who wants to improve his/her grades in a class, I communicate on a regular basis with the teacher of the class so I can determine the student's challenges and monitor progress. If a student can show me the work that has been done in cass I can help the student recognize key vocabulary that the teacher expects the student to know and teach memory devices and study practices to best internalize vocabulary. Sometimes grammar is difficult for a student because the rules as explained in class do not make sense to the student. I have worked with many students with learning differences so have a about five different way to explain almost any grammatical concept. If a student is lucky enough to have a teacher who uses a proficiency-based approach (where the emphasis is on understanding and communicating) we work on cognate recognition (deciphering new words using latin roots), cementing the most common high-frequency verbs, listening comprehension using a variety of resources online, conversation and essay-writing.

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I have a Master's degree of Education and eight years of experience teaching Spanish in schools and seven years of experience teaching English as a Second Language. I taught English at a high school when I lived in Ecuador, and I taught ESL in pull-out classes to middle school and high school students at a school here in the USA. I have taught high school Spanish I - IV and Spanish for elementary students. I have also tutored adults interested in learning Spanish for fun and/or travel.

Lessons offered