Saturday, June 20, 2009

Introduction to this blog

Foreign languages have fascinated me ever since my early adolescence, when my family and I lived in Germany for two years. Languages -- German, French, Latin, Spanish, and English -- were my main focus of study all through high school and college. Thus it was only natural that I should seek a career in languages.

I've done both classroom teaching and professional translating, but tutoring is my main love and my main occupation. I've been working as a private language tutor since 1988, teaching mainly adult and college-level students. I started with German, then added French, Spanish, and ESL (English as a Second Language). For the last seven years, I've been teaching mainly elementary and intermediate Spanish, some German, and a little ESL.

I teach primarily in my home in southwest Denver, also at the Auraria Campus Library in downtown Denver, working six days a week.

Since the summer of 2008, I've been teaching weekly elementary Spanish classes to employees of the Auraria Campus Library. All the students are beginners, so we use an inexpensive textbook, one designed for self-study or study with a tutor. That book is Spanish the Easy Way, 4th Edition, by Ruth J. Silverstein, Barron's 2003, $14.95 paperback. A very similar book is Spanish Now, Level 1, 7th Edition, also by Ruth Silverstein, Barron's 2005, $18.99 pbk.

To go along with each of the study units in Spanish the Easy Way, I've been writing multi-page handouts, 18 so far, with many more to come. Those give lots of extra vocabulary words, more grammar pointers, and more exercises, some with answers. All my students say they really appreciate the handouts, that they add a great deal to their understanding of the language and help reinforce the information in each chapter of the book.

My first two handouts, as well as a few others, are entirely original, not based on the textbook. Those first two handouts deal with the pronunciation of Spanish, the alphabet, spelling, voice stress, and rules for the use of accent marks.

Modifying my handouts for this blog will be an ongoing project, and the first installment will appear quite soon. My aim here is to provide you with information which you can use either all by itself or in conjunction with Spanish the Easy Way or with Spanish is Fun. On this blog, I will provide the answers for some of the exercises. The handouts will also be condensed and simplified.

Both in my handouts and in my face-to-face teaching sessions, one of my main goals is clarity of presentation. Grammar is often the least favorite and most intimidating part of foreign language study, but I seek to explain grammar in the most unthreatening way possible, very often giving examples of the same concept in both English and Spanish. Ms. Silverstein uses a lot of humor in her books, and that helps, too; I try to emulate her whenever possible.

Most of all, I hope to help others enjoy and come to love the very beautiful and useful Spanish language.

A note on purchasing the handouts:

Most of the handouts I have written so far for my classes run to 6-8 pages apiece when printed out. I will post only parts of each handout on this blog. If you find the parts interesting enough, you might want to order the PDF file of an entire handout. Each handout costs $2.00, payable to me by PayPal. My account is the same as my e-mail,


  1. Welcome to the blog world. I look forward to reading more.

  2. Thanks a lot, Travis! The first installment should be there this evening. - Leonore

  3. SORRY about the long delay regarding posting any more, folks. I'll get more up here this weekend, I promise. (Leonore -- 7/1/09, 10:45 PM)