Celebrating a Wonderful Polish-Guatemalan Tutor-Student Match

June 17, 2022

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Pictured left to right above are Karolina and Dayany.

This feature was shared by Tutor Karolina Dembinska-Lemus.

My name is Karolina and I was born in Poland. I came to the US at age eight, not speaking any English. I tutor Dayany, who was born in Guatemala and has lived here for six years. When the arrangement with her previous tutor ended, she went for many months without any English instruction. Therefore, I have been working on helping Dayany make English learning a daily habit so she would be less dependent on tutoring sessions and maximize her practice time.

I have Dayany check out children’s books to read to her toddler son. She reads at least one of these books to her son daily. Next, I asked her to start listening to English language music in the background for at least 15-20 minutes daily. Since she had no frame of reference for what I meant by English music, we settled on the soundtrack to the movie “Encanto.” I have her focus especially on one song at a time that she listens to while watching a YouTube video with the lyrics, so she can sing along.

Another thing I have Dayany do is watch English YouTube videos on a topic of interest to her. I showed her how to turn on the closed captioning on the videos, and how to slow the playback speed so she can more easily follow along with both listening and reading the content of the videos. Finally, we practice tongue twisters together as another fun way to focus on pronunciation.

Karolina has a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Women’s Studies, as well as a Master’s degree in Linguistics. She has more than ten years of experience teaching adult ESL classes.


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