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Five Tips for Surviving an All-Nighter

Saturday, November 18, 2017

by Hannah Frank, special guest contributor

It’s that paper you’ve been putting off for weeks. Or that big project you’ve told yourself you would finish up. But here you are, the night before it’s due, nervously watching the clock as it moves from 8 PM to 10 PM, and before you know it, it’s 2 AM and you’re still not done. This situation calls for: an all-nighter. This may sound daunting, but fear not! Here are survival tips (from yours truly who has pulled many an all-nighter) that will help in your academic endeavors.

1. Sip, don’t chug!

If your first instinct is like mine (to start your all-nighter by chugging three Red Bulls), think again. While this will definitely boost your energy, it will also overload your brain and body with adrenaline, the neurotransmitter responsible for the flight-or-fight response. I’ve done this, and my hands ended up shaking so badly I couldn’t type, let alone concentrate on stringing a coherent sentence together. Instead, ingest the caffeine slowly so the inevitable ‘crash’ later on won’t be as drastic. Space the drinks out! If you know, for example, that three hours after a cup of coffee you begin to feel tired, start sipping your next caffeinated beverage half an hour before that; this will provide a small boost of energy and will help you avoid a crash.

2. Know your naps

When I pull an all-nighter, I hit a wall around 3 am—desperate for sleep, but not willing to put my paper/studying in jeopardy. Instead of downing another Red Bull, I’ll bargain with myself (e.g. ‘If I can finish this paragraph in the next ten minutes, I’ll take a ten minute nap’), set an alarm, and almost instantly lose consciousness.

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How to Survive & Thrive in AP Latin

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Augustus CaesarAP Latin is an extremely challenging, college-caliber course that requires a sustained, serious commitment from the student.  Classical Latin is a literary language: that is, fluency means being able to read literature at sight, as opposed to being able to speak and listen to the language with a native’s proficiency.  And for AP Latin, students are expected to be fluent at reading, translating, and analyzing selected portions of two particular works of Literature: Vergil’s Aeneid and Julius Caesar’s Commentarii De Bello Gallico.

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How to Survive & Thrive: AP English Literature & Composition

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

by Hannah Frank, special guest contributor

AP English

Literature and Composition is high-level reading and writing course that challenges students’ ability to comprehend and compose analyses of rich and complex literaturewritten in or translated to English.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP English Lit & Comp students to come up with six very useful tips--three “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and three “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

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How to Survive & Thrive: AP Psychology

Monday, January 23, 2017

AP Psychology is an advanced social science course in which students “explore how psychologists use research methods and critical analysis to explore human behavior” (College Board).  It’s a tough but fun course, and it’s considered to be the perfect offering for students who love both social studies and science.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Psychology students to come up with six very useful tips--three “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and three “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

What’s fascinating about psychology is its real-life application. You’ll be able to observe these applications every day—and what’s a better way to study than hands on? My AP Psycho

logy teacher used to play Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” before every test he gave us as a way to calm us down; but due to conditioning, the one day he played the song when we didn’t have a test scheduled, our class dissolved into panic, as we’d associated the song with taking a hard test. But I’ll also never forget what classical conditioning is. Hands-on learning can be an excellent way to obtain and retain knowledge you’ll need for the exam.

You should have a working knowledge of important people, ideas, and their application. There are a lot of terms, but by making flashcards during each unit during the year, you can avoid last minute panicking over concepts from the first unit.

READ MORE

How to Survive & Thrive in AP Biology

Monday, January 2, 2017

AP Biology is an advanced science course that challenges students’ understanding of biology through what the College Board calls “inquiry-based learning.”  Topics covered include evolution, cellular processes, genetics, ecology, and more.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Biology students to come up with four very useful tips--two “how to survive” tips to help y

ou achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and two “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

1. Memorize the general workings of each process you learn, especially in the time leading up to each test. This class is largely centered around memorizing the details that make up the processes of life, so in order to get through it you need to put in the time and effort of memorizing the details of the various processes taught in this course. Take photosynthesis, for example: it is split up into two parts, the light and dark reactions which are further divided into smaller, more specific processes. Thus, you must learn many details in order to understand the process at the level you need to when you take the test.

2. Practice writing essays and free response paragraphs. Although this course is a science class, writing plays an important role and thus should be practiced constantly. Aside from the need to write in the free response section of the AP exam at the end of the year, it serves as a good indicator of whether you unders

tand a concept by determining if you can write a coherent summary of it.

How to Thrive:

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How to Survive & Thrive: AP Spanish Language and Culture

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

AP Spanish is the plateau (or meseta!) of classroom Spanish learning.  Not to be confused with AP Spanish Literature, AP Spanish Language and Culture is a rigorous course that challenges students to converse and write fluently in Español.  

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Spanish students to come up with four very useful tips--two “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and two “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

1. Have a basic understanding of the many grammatical concepts—both elementary and complex—that the Spanish language is composed of, including conjugation rules for verbs, gender/number rules for nouns, and structure rules for different types of clauses (i.e. si clauses). Although some of these rules may seem incredibly simple, they are the basis of Spanish. So, to master the language, you must understand and review them. Do not rely solely on your memory of previous years of Spanish to bring your grammar to the AP level—many of these small details are easily forgotten, so make sure to review all of the grammar that you have learned thus far thoroughly.

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Why College in the UK Might Be the Best Fit for You

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Chances are that when you’re preparing for college, you’ve considered places that are more than just a couple hours away. Perhaps you’re from New York and considering Stanford, or instead you are a Midwesterner looking at Williams or Duke. In any event, going to college is a chance to go off to a place potentially far away and make your own way.

So why limit yourself to only colleges in the United States?

If you are willing to give your passport a workout, there are a number of advantages to considering studying in the United Kingdom.

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How to Survive and Thrive in AP Calculus

Monday, September 12, 2016

AP Calculus is typically considered to be one of the toughest AP courses by high school students.  There are actually two versions of the course: AP Calculus AB, and AP Calculus BC.  BC is the harder course of the two, mainly because its curriculum covers a wider range of problems.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Calculus students to come up with four very useful tips--two “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and two “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.

How to Survive in AP Calculus:

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5 Awesome Twitter Feeds to Help with Your Internship Search!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

If you're like most ambitious high school students, then you might be thinking about doing a meaningful internship this summer. But how does one go about finding the perfect opportunity? Well, as it turns out, Twitter is a great place to start your search. After an extensive search, we've found the following 5 cool internship accounts, and we highly recommend that you check them out:

1. New York Internships (@nyinternships): Looking for a job or internship in NYC? This account Tweets about options in all areas, from beauty to photography to graphic design. Follow @nyinternships to check out fantastic opportunities in the city!

2. Fashion Internships (@fashionintern): Interested in the fashion industry? Check out @fashionintern for all opportunities in fashion, whether you know nothing about it or you’re looking to learn a specific skill for one the world’s top fashion brands!

3. Lauren Berger (@InternQueen): Are you a student interested in finding work in the real world? Follow @InternQueen for tips and job and internship opportunities in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and many other parts of the country!

4. DC Internships (@dcinternjobs): Looking for an internship or job in the capital of our country? Follow @dcinternjobs for awesome opportunities--especially if you’re looking to work for the U.S. government one day.

5. Viacom Careers (@ViacomCareers): Viacom is another great Twitter account if you’re interested in finding an internship or job in just about any discipline! Follow @ViacomCareers for the latest updates in job opportunities!

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4 Simple Exercises To Do During a Study Break

Monday, February 8, 2016

You’ve been hunched over that AP Environmental Science textbook for at least three hours, and now you’re struggling to make heads or tails of the latest paragraph.  You’ve already had two protein bars, your favorite fruit smoothie, and--as a last resort--a piece of sugary candy, but you still feel like your brain simply cannot absorb any more information.  

Does this scenario seem familiar?

If so, then you should consider espousing the ancient Roman ideal of a “sound mind in a sound body” (mens sana in corpore sano).  This philosophy, which some scholars attribute to an earlier Greek source, has been interpreted and applied in a variety of ways.  But for the sake of your study habits, think of it like this: if your body is healthy, then your brain will follow suit.  

So why not close that textbook for a few minutes and do some exercises?  You’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to get back to the books in the short term, and, what’s more, you’ll feel better overall in the long term.  We’ve culled dozens of fitness websites’ exercise suggestions, and here are four that we recommend trying out during a study break:

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5 Tips for Surviving an All-Night Study Marathon

Monday, January 25, 2016

It’s that paper you’ve been putting off for weeks. Or that big project you’ve told yourself you would finish up. But here you are, the night before it’s due, nervously watching the clock as it moves from 8 PM to 10 PM, and before you know it, it’s 2 AM and you’re still not done. Unfortunately, this situation calls for an all-nighter, which may sound daunting, but fear not! Here are survival tips (from a panel of college students who have pulled many an all-nighter) that will help in your academic endeavors.

1. Sip, don’t chug!

If your first instinct is to start your all-nighter by chugging three Red Bulls, think again. While this will definitely boost your energy, it will also overload your brain and body with adrenaline, the neurotransmitter responsible for the flight-or-fight response. We’ve done this, and our hands ended up shaking so badly we couldn’t type, let alone concentrate on stringing a coherent sentence together. Instead, ingest the caffeine slowly so the inevitable ‘crash’ later on won’t be as drastic. Space the drinks out! If you know, for example, that three hours after a cup of coffee you begin to feel tired, start sipping your next caffeinated beverage half an hour before that; this will provide a small boost of energy and will help you avoid a crash.

2. Know your naps

When we pull an all-nighter, we hit a wall around 3 am—desperate for sleep, but not willing to put our papers/studying in jeopardy. Instead of downing another Red Bull, we’ll bargain with ourselves (e.g. ‘If I can finish this paragraph in the next ten minutes, I’ll take a ten minute nap’), set an alarm, and almost instantly lose consciousness.

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Sound Body, Sound Mind

Monday, January 11, 2016

The ideal of the “sound mind in a sound body,” which may predate the Ancient Romans, can be found in a poem by the Latin satirist Juvenal:

You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.

ask for a stout heart that has no fear of death,

and deems length of days the least of Nature's gifts

that can endure any kind of toil…

Educators, psychologists, parenting experts--and the list goes on and on--have championed this expression, and we’re jumping on that bandwagon. Really, how could anyone argue with the importance of being both mentally and physically healthy? Our interpretation of the expression is simple and literal: we take it to mean that in order to be in your best mental shape--and, by extension, to do your best in school and on standardized tests--you must first make sure that you are in your best physical shape.

We’ve therefore decided to kick off the new year with our “Sound Body, Sound Mind” blog series, featuring topics such as follows:

  • Four Simple Exercises to Do During a Study Break
  • Four Relaxation Techniques to Try During a Study Break
  • The Top 10 Delicious Brain Foods to Keep You Energized
  • Five Healthy Drinks to Fuel Your Next Study Marathon
  • Five Fun Ways to Reward Yourself After Studying

This wonderful series will begin with our next blog entry on Tuesday, January 26th, and will continue throughout the winter and into the spring.

Stay tuned to this blog, and have a happy and HEALTHY New Year!

 

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How to Survive & Thrive in AP Latin

Monday, December 7, 2015

AP Latin is an extremely challenging, college-caliber course that requires a sustained, serious commitment from the student. Classical Latin is a literary language: that is, fluency means being able to read literature at sight, as opposed to being able to speak and listen to the language with a native’s proficiency. And for AP Latin, students are expected to be fluent at reading, translating, and analyzing selected portions of two particular works of Literature: Vergil’s Aeneid and Julius Caesar’s Commentarii De Bello Gallico.

We consulted with two experienced AP teachers, a handful of tutors, and several recent AP Latin students to come up with four very useful tips--two “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and two “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

1. Master all of the rhetorical devices on the AP curriculum and become an expert at scansion.  Rhetorical devices, such as anaphora, anastrophe, and apostrophe (just to name three that often get mixed up--for obvious reasons!), feature in about 6-8 multiple choice questions and 2-3 short answer questions on the free-response section.  Because the rhetorical devices list is relatively manageable, mastering them can translate to guaranteed points on the exam.  And the scansion of dactylic hexameter, if thoroughly practiced, can also equate to 2-3 successful multiple choice answers as well as 1 short answer question.

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How to Survive & Thrive: AP English Language and Composition

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

According to the College Board, AP English Language & Composition “focuses on the development and revision of evidence-based analytic and argumentative writing and the rhetorical analysis of nonfiction texts.”  Many students who take the course or just the exam think of it as a good warm-up for the verbal portions of other standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP English students to come up with six very useful tips--three “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and three “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

1. Read cartoons. No, it’s not the time to pull out your old Calvin and Hobbes; read political cartoons. Analyze them. What are they trying to convey? What are they protesting or satirizing? These analytic skills are necessary for reading graphs, analyzing pictures, or parsing passages. Read news articles, and answer the same questions. Two of the essays on the exam are based on your ability to read passages or graphs and use them to form an argument. A smart way to create an argument or thesis is to reference back to the passage and the rhetorical devices used. Speaking of…

2. Do you know your rhetorical devices? The multiple choice questions focus on identifying and analyzing an author’s rhetorical devices, as well as understanding an author’s point of view and reasoning. You should have a working knowledge of tone, structure, grammar and the like and you should be able to identify them in a passage. What is the purpose of the passage?  

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How to Survive & Thrive in AP English Literature & Composition

Monday, November 9, 2015

AP English Literature and Composition is high-level reading and writing course that challenges students’ ability to comprehend and compose analyses of rich and complex literature written in or translated to English.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP English Lit & Comp students to come up with six very useful tips--three “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and three “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

Have a working knowledge of literary devices, poetic devices, grammar, and SAT vocabulary. This includes being able to identify, understand, and write complex passages. During the poetry section of your AP English class (or, if there is not, find poems from your review book or online) and test yourself. Do you know what’s going on in the poem? Do you know what poetic devices are being used? Can you identify the meter and tone of the poem?

Do your reading. Do your reading. If you are preparing to take this AP exam, chances are that you are in an upper level class, which means that the time for Sparknotes and online book summaries are far behind you. The author’s tone, writing style, and nuances are completely lost when taking shortcuts in doing your reading. The skills learned by reading many different authors is the ability to understand and analyze any piece of writing you may come across, whether on the exam, in college, or further in your life. Who knows—the stories and books you’re reading might even be on the exam!

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How to Survive & Thrive in AP Psychology

Monday, October 26, 2015

AP Psychology is an advanced social science course in which students “explore how psychologists use research methods and critical analysis to explore human behavior” (College Board).  It’s a tough but fun course, and it’s considered to be the perfect offering for students who love both social studies and science.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Psychology students to come up with six very useful tips--three “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and three “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

What’s fascinating about psychology is its real-life application. You’ll be able to observe these applications every day—and what’s a better way to study than hands on? My AP Psychology teacher used to play Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” before every test he gave us as a way to calm us down; but due to conditioning, the one day he played the song when we didn’t have a test scheduled, our class dissolved into panic, as we’d associated the song with taking a hard test. But I’ll also never forget what classical conditioning is. Hands-on learning can be an excellent way to obtain and retain knowledge you’ll need for the exam.

You should have a working knowledge of important people, ideas, and their application. There are a lot of terms, but by making flashcards during each unit during the year, you can avoid last minute panicking over concepts from the first unit.

Be able to analyze a given situation by applying various concepts. This doesn’t mean being able to know that Pavlov’s dogs drooled because of classical conditioning (although that is important to know!); it means taking a multi-dimensional scene and being able to break down all of the underlying concepts and their contribution to the situation as a whole.

How to Thrive:

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How to Survive & Thrive in AP Biology

Monday, October 12, 2015

AP Biology is an advanced science course that challenges students’ understanding of biology through what the College Board calls “inquiry-based learning.”  Topics covered include evolution, cellular processes, genetics, ecology, and more.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Biology students to come up with four very useful tips--two “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and two “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

1. Memorize the general workings of each process you learn, especially in the time leading up to each test. This class is largely centered around memorizing the details that make up the processes of life, so in order to get through it you need to put in the time and effort of memorizing the details of the various processes taught in this course. Take photosynthesis, for example: it is split up into two parts, the light and dark reactions which are further divided into smaller, more specific processes. Thus, you must learn many details in order to understand the process at the level you need to when you take the test.

2. Practice writing essays and free response paragraphs. Although this course is a science class, writing plays an important role and thus should be practiced constantly. Aside from the need to write in the free response section of the AP exam at the end of the year, it serves as a good indicator of whether you understand a concept by determining if you can write a coherent summary of it.

How to Thrive:

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How to Survive & Thrive in AP Spanish

Monday, September 28, 2015

AP Spanish is the plateau (or meseta!) of classroom Spanish learning.  Not to be confused with AP Spanish Literature, AP Spanish Language and Culture is a rigorous course that challenges students to converse and write fluently in Español.  

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Spanish students to come up with four very useful tips--two “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and two “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

1. Have a basic understanding of the many grammatical concepts—both elementary and complex—that the Spanish language is composed of, including conjugation rules for verbs, gender/number rules for nouns, and structure rules for different types of clauses (i.e. si clauses). Although some of these rules may seem incredibly simple, they are the basis of Spanish. So, to master the language, you must understand and review them. Do not rely solely on your memory of previous years of Spanish to bring your grammar to the AP level—many of these small details are easily forgotten, so make sure to review all of the grammar that you have learned thus far thoroughly.

2. Be able to speak, read, write, and listen at a basic level; all of these skills are central to the curriculum of the class and are ultimately tested on the AP exam. In order to get through this course, you must be comfortable in all these areas. The amount of work that you put into honing these skills will determine your success. To merely survive the course, significantly less effort is necessary than if you are working to thrive and succeed. To work on these areas, you can go online to find a Spanish article and translate it, write about it, and then converse about it in Spanish with someone you know who is also familiar with the language.

How to Thrive:

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How to Survive & Thrive in AP Calculus

Monday, September 14, 2015

AP Calculus is typically considered to be one of the toughest AP courses by high school students.  There are actually two versions of the course: AP Calculus AB, and AP Calculus BC.  BC is the harder course of the two, mainly because its curriculum covers a wider range of problems.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Calculus students to come up with four very useful tips--two “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and two “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

Memorize the various different derivation and integration formulas. Because so much of the course is centered around these ideas, the brute memorization of the different forms allows for recognition and thus the ability to solve many different problems. You should memorize these forms as soon as possible; they are central ideas of the course, so you will need to use them all the time. This task is less daunting than it seems, as the integration and derivation formulas are very similar to each other (i.e. the integral of cos(x) = sin(x) + C (a constant), and the derivative of sin(x) = cos(x)*x'). There are not that many different forms, so memorizing them won’t occupy that much time.

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A Summer of Growth and an Exciting School Year Ahead!

Monday, August 31, 2015

We at Tutor Tango are very much looking forward to our third full year of helping students learn and succeed!  We’ve had a busy summer preparing for the school year ahead, and we’re excited to present a number of new additions--both to our tutoring team and our web site.  

First, we’re thrilled to announce a partnership with Test Innovators. Test Innovators provides the best diagnostic practice tests for the ISEE and SSAT, and Tutor Tango will be leveraging these tools as part of our online and offline (in-person) test preparation tutoring programs.  To this end, we’ve also added several new highly talented and experienced ISEE and SSAT tutors to our network of independently subcontracted educators.

We’ve also added several new tutors in other areas of critical need, including new expert SAT and ACT tutors, a few new exceptional tutors in math and science, and four gifted, seasoned learning specialists.  In addition, we’ve landed one of the best writing tutors from the San Francisco area, Kate S., who recently moved back to NYC and specializes in college essays, personal statements, and other forms of format-specific prose.

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Memory Science: Personalized, Byte-Sized Learning; the Perfect Complement to Online Tutoring!

Monday, August 17, 2015

You can walk into any classroom today and see that different students struggle with different things.

Some students at the elementary school down the road might have a hard time doing fractions during math class while others might struggle with remembering the capitals of all 50 states.

Maybe a college student is in an Intermediate Accounting class, but her previous professor from Intro to Accounting only went over straight-line depreciation and never mentioned double-declining depreciation. She lacks that foundation she needs to succeed in her class. It is not her fault. Her previous professor just decided to emphasize a different topic of accounting instead.

Personalized learning is important because each student has his or her own individualized needs and focus areas to reinforce. Students learn in different ways. They come from different backgrounds. They even have varying academic foundations. When it comes to a student’s education, one-size does not fit all.

More effort will have to be put into identifying topics and subjects that each student individually struggles with. Maybe it is a teacher, a professor, or a tutor explaining it to them in a different way by using a visual graphic instead of writing it out on a white board. Maybe it means going over that biology material a few extra times to make sure the student understands it. Maybe it comes to a few extra hours of studying those GRE vocabulary words to guarantee you really have them down.

Thankfully there are many great opportunities, services, and tools out there to help personalize the learning of each student. Professors have office hours that students can attend and ask questions. Teachers are normally in their classrooms during lunch. There are great organizations out there like our friends here at Tutor Tango, who provide high-quality one-on-one in-person and online tutoring in all subjects, including standardized test prep.

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Students! Three Tips to Improve your Health This Summer!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Feeling lazy but want to get into shape this summer? Here are some tips to live by in order to get yourself going!

1. Set realistic goals! Don’t tell yourself you’re going to exercise for one hour every day when you know you’re not going to end up getting off your couch. Setting such lofty, unrealistic goals will only make you feel worse when you don’t accomplish them. Instead, start small and gradually push yourself. Tell yourself to run or exercise for only 10 minutes, then 15, then 20. Gradually you’ll be able to work out much longer than you ever thought you could!

2. Create a routine you know you can stick to! Setting realistic goals is only the first step; now you have to make sure you achieve what you want to accomplish. Deciding thirty minutes before that you want to go to the gym or run outside might feel right in the moment, but tomorrow or the next day you might not be motivated enough. Make a plan. Make a smart routine that makes you more compelled to actually follow through with it.  Create an exercise schedule you know you can stick to whether it’s twice, three times, or five times a week.  The important thing is to be consistent. If after a couple weeks you want to increase the amount of times you exercise, that’s great, but don’t set the bar too high at the start--you might end up overworking yourself, or you might scale back simply because you feel you did enough last week.

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Good Summer Reads--No Matter Your Taste!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

With summer almost here, it's time to decide what to read by the pool (or in the park...or even on the couch--whatever!)  We therefore turned to some of our trusted friends in the teaching world to find out what books they're recommending to their students.  But we didn't just ask English teachers; we also asked teachers of social studies, science, and even math.  Here's what they recommended (in alphabetical order):

What is the What? by Dave Eggers 

What is the What? tells the story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of 20,000 "Lost Boys" who escaped the horrors of Sudan's second civil war, walking thousands of miles to Ethiopia and, ultimately, resettling in the United States. This book is a treat, so beautifully written and so compelling that the pages fly by even faster than you want them to. David Eggers works magic, creating a character whose voice will stay in your head long after you've put it down.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr   

Marie-Laure, the blind daughter of the Paris Museum of Natural History's master locksmith, flees the Nazi occupation of her city at age 12 and finds refuge in the coastal town of Saint-Malo along with one of the museum's—and the world's—most precious gems.  Meanwhile, a German orphan named Werner, a phenom with radio circuitry, rises through the ranks of the Hitler youth and travels around Europe with a small squadron tasked with hunting down rebel radio operators until one day, when his path through World War II converges with Marie-Laure's.  The winner of the 2014 Puliter Prize for fiction.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver 

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Latin Students: Study the Classics this Summer in Florence or Rome!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CALDER CLASSICS

Summer in Italy 2015

Calder Classics invites high school students of Latin interested in Ancient or Art History to join us in Italy this summer. Over the course of a 2-week program limited to 6-8 students, the Classics will come alive daily as we translate Latin works such as Vergil’s Aeneid or Livy’s History of Rome and explore related ancient and art historical sites, all while immersing ourselves in the modern culture of either Florence or Rome.

Master Latin

Each day students & their mentors will read & discuss Latin literature by influential ancient Roman authors in a residential “salon” style environment.

Dive into Italy's Rich Art, Culture and History

Whether visiting Botticelli’s Primavera & Birth of Venus in Florence or the Colosseum & Imperial Fora in Rome, we will discuss the history & broader themes of these cultural treasures as well as their connections to the texts we read.

Live the Italian Life

While staying in a beautiful villa on the Oltrarno in Florence or atop the famous Aventine hill in Rome, students have the chance to experience an Italian lifestyle.

Register online today for our 2015 Summer Programs in Florence & Rome! Any questions call 917-533-3712 or visit calderclassics.com

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How to Take Better Notes in History Class

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Of all of the courses you are required to take in middle and high school, history may demand the most careful, diligent note-taking.  Unfortunately, history textbooks often complicate matters, as they tend to present an overwhelming amount of information in the form of text, sidebars, graphics such as tables, charts, and maps, and images such as photographs and illustrations.  On top of all of this information, your teacher presents his or her emphasis on historical events, facts, and dates through lectures, PowerPoint presentations, videos, and other methods of teaching.  

The question, then, is how do you go about organizing all of this information most effectively in order to prepare for the next essay or test? We’ve consulted with our expert history tutors, and here are four simple tips that will help you take better notes and get organized for that next major assignment.

Tip #1: Take straightforward yet thorough bullet-point style notes in class.

Some history teachers move through material in class quickly, so it’s important that you develop an efficient and systematic note-taking method that will enable you to thoroughly record the most important information.  Bullet-point style notes are an effective way to boil all of the information your teacher covers down to what’s most essential.  For example, if your teacher is lecturing on Muslim Spain, your notes might look like this:

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Tutor Spotlight: 5 Questions with Kevin T.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tutor Tango is excited to welcome the versatile and dynamic Kevin T. to our online tutoring network.  Kevin has been teaching and tutoring for the past four years, and he holds a BA from the City University of New York, as well as a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. He tutors a wide range of subjects, from Algebra and Geometry to English and Spanish, and he also has experience with test prep.

We recently talked to Kevin about his teaching and tutoring experiences, and here are the highlights:

1. What inspired you to become an educator?

When I became truly conscious of the education gap and the need for more effective solutions to help younger people to improve their lives, I decided to join the effort. I noticed the problem of students who wanted to learn more, but they suffered from inadequate educational structure in too many of their school districts. As a board member at one my children's high schools, I am even more dedicated to making sure that the students I tutor can receive the help that they need to get ahead and surpass some of the obstacles preventing them from the opportunities that they crave and deserve.

2. What qualities in a tutor do you think are most important?

I wholeheartedly believe that a tutor must be understanding of the student's individual needs and goals. In addition, a tutor must have a focus on ensuring that the student is going through the critical thinking and learning process with a guide, rather than a person who will essentially do the work for the student and hope that the student picks it up along the way. Tutors have to possess a solid understanding of alternative ways for students to experience that epiphany where their work starts to come together with their understanding.

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How Math Study Habits Lead to Exam Success

Monday, January 5, 2015

Math classrooms around the country echo with cries of "I did so much study, but the questions on the exam were nothing like the homework!" In the corresponding staff rooms, teachers and professors shake their heads, knowing that the questions were just like the homework (if not EXACTLY the same). What is going wrong? 

Most people understand there is a connection between homework and class performance: if you get behind on homework, you expect your grades to drop. However, we may not know what makes good homework. As a student or parent, it is tempting to think that quick homework is good homework - you couldn't be doing math fast if you were no good at it, right? To understand what might not be so good about quick homework, let's think about what happens when you can't do a problem: you go to your notes/book/tutor for a similar example and see how to proceed. This results in you finishing the problem quickly; in fact, you are normally just fine after you have seen the trick to getting started. Does this sound familiar? It should: it's completely logical and a good basis for study. 

BUT... 

The problems start when this is your ONLY form of study, because in an exam, you don't get a nudge. 

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Tutor Spotlight: 5 Questions with Jeremy D.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tutor Tango is excited to welcome the savvy and dynamic Jeremy D. to our online tutoring network.  Jeremy has over seven years of combined teaching and tutoring experience, and he holds a Masters in Education from the Harvard University, as well as an MS from NYU. He tutors a wide range of subjects, from Algebra and Art History to Music Theory and Spanish. He also knows his way around a standardized test or two, such as the ACT and SSAT.

We recently conducted an interview with Jeremy, and here are the highlights:

1. What inspired you to become an educator?

I felt I could help a very particular type of kid: the smart, occasionally misbehaving kid whose talents don't always get recognized; in other words, the type of kid I was.

2. What's the most unconventional or non-traditional tutoring method you've tried?

I've often relied on the principle that asking a kid to teach a concept helps that kid grasp it more deeply. Being a lover of music, I've had students use and create songs to help deepen their understanding of an academic challenge.

3. What books have inspired you to educate and learn?

I'm a lover of words, and any poets that use them creatively inspire me. For instance: Stephen Crane, Bob Dylan, e.e. cummings, Laurie Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Tupac Shakur, Mark Leyner, Amy Tan, Maureen Dowd, etc.

4. What advice do you have for high schoolers stressed out about the college application process?

Focus on one application at a time, set deadlines for yourself three weeks before actual deadlines, share your essays with supportive people who you trust to tell you the truth and not just say, "It's good."

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How to Make the Most of Your Test Prep Experience

Monday, November 3, 2014

by Kristen R., Tutor Tango Test Prep Expert 

Standardized test prep tutoring can make a tremendous difference in your SAT and ACT test scores. In the 7 years I've been tutoring high school students for these important tests, I've helped them fill in knowledge gaps, incorporate test-taking strategies, and build confidence for test day. But once- or twice-a-week tutoring sessions alone will not maximize your test performance. Homework assignments, from vocab and grammar drills to practice test sections to math problems, are just as important as session time with your tutor. 

So how do you get the most out of your test prep homework?

1)  Actually do your homework – every day!

So many students view their test prep homework as optional or “extra practice,” when in fact it’s essential for success. To do your best on test day, you must be disciplined about your homework every day. Set aside 30 minutes a day for your test prep homework and tackle it in a quiet space at a table or desk (not on the couch!). Setting a timer can help motivate you to give that homework all you’ve got for the required 30 minutes.

2) Be an advocate for your own learning.

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Tutor Spotlight: 5 Questions with Bridget G.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tutor Tango is excited to welcome the highly-talented and charismatic Bridget G. to our online tutoring network.  Bridget has ten years of tutoring experience, ten years of teaching experience, and she holds an MA in English Education from the City College of New York. She tutors English (writing and reading), psychology, and the verbal and writing sections of a wide range of standardized tests, including the ACT and SAT. 

We recently sat down with Bridget (via cyberspace, to be specific), and asked her a few questions.  Here are the highlights:

1. What inspired you to become an educator?

I moved to NYC when I was 25, looking for adventure and fulfillment. While riding the NYC subway, there were these blazing black and white ads touting the new Teaching Fellows program. It was a well-placed advertisement, with heart-warming anecdotes, and I felt like they were speaking directly to me. It was kind of a moment of clarity, when I just knew what I needed to -- and should be doing. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

2. What's the most unconventional or teaching method you've relied on as a tutor?

I asked students to keep a journal for a semester, expressing their connections with the nightly readings. The connections could be in any format: drawing, poetry, stream-of-consciousness, really, anything. They were not allowed to have their names anywhere in the journal, just a number that only I knew. At the end of the semester, I heaped all the journals in a pile and asked everyone to chose a different journal. They took these journals and used them to write a short story about the person who wrote it. It never failed to inspire the students to create some of their very best creative writing. It’s total freedom, both in writing the journal, and the short story.

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4 Mistakes to Avoid in Your College Admissions Essay

Sunday, September 28, 2014

by Lauren N., Tutor Tango Expert Tutor and College Entrance Guru

          Admissions essays can be so hard and confusing that some people end up writing what they think "an admissions essay" is supposed to look like: the same boring 650 words that admissions committees have read a thousand times.

            Here are the four mistakes I see most frequently.

Mistake #1: Writing About the Same Service Trip that Everyone Else Took

I can’t tell you how often students and their parents have asked me if a specific service trip will make a good essay topic. Let me be clear: they’re asking this before they go on the trip, to decide whether going on the trip will be worth it. After all, community service trips are expensive. Ten days building houses for Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica will set you back $2,000.00 + plane fare. You could volunteer with your local Habitat group for free, but what kind of essay would that make?

The expensive community service trip is the worst kind of cliché, a cynical attempt to buy a prepackaged Life Experience which can be transformed into a winning essay. Admissions committees know this. They’re asking you to paint a picture; you’re handing them a postcard you got in a gift shop.

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Tutor Spotlight: 5 Questions with Matthew S.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tutor Tango is excited to welcome the highly-talented and charismatic Matthew S. to our online tutoring network.  Matthew has eight years of tutoring experience, four years of teaching experience, and he holds a BS in Mathematics from the City University of New York. He tutors algebra, calculus, geometry, precalculus, and math sections of a wide range of standardized tests, including the ACT and SAT. 

We recently sat down with Matthew (via cyberspace, to be specific), and asked him a few questions.  Here are the highlights:

1. What inspired you to become an educator?
I was daydreaming in a freshman film history class in college. I was an engineering student who just realized being an engineer is probably boring but I didn’t want my math credits to go to waste. It suddenly hit me that my favorite part of 6th grade was when my teacher let me teach the class for 2 minutes and the girl that never spoke exclaimed at the end, “I got it now!”

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Work Hard, But Really...Work Smart

Monday, September 1, 2014

by Jason Silverberg 
Tutor Tango English Tutor
 
With our ever-changing world constantly lapping itself technologically and growing more convenient by the minute, concentration on the task at hand is in short supply. How can we buckle down and focus when social media is just begging us to skip out and play? Difficult yes, but impossible? Certainly not. Here are a few tips to help you keep your head in the game...or out of the game if games are your distraction. Either way. 
 
Class Time
As alienating as it might sound, minimize distractions by sitting away from your friends. Classes are short and you’ll be reunited in no time. Absence make the heart grow fonder, and think of how impressed the members of your inner circle will be when you regale them with what you learned while they were in the back of the room scribbling on desks.
 
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5 Questions to Help Fine-Tune your Summer Reading List

Monday, June 23, 2014

5.  Are any of the books I’m reading ‘literary’?

What is a ‘literary’ book, you ask?  According to editor/publisher/professor Jane Friedman, a work of fiction is ‘literary’ if it meets the following four criteria: (1) it’s intellectual; (2) it has depth; (3) it’s more about character than about plot; (4) it has style.  Chances are, the English department at your school assigned a book or two for summer reading that most definitely meets all four of these criteria.  You should certainly read at least one literary book, and challenge yourself to identify Friedman’s four criteria as you read.

4.  Are too many of the books I’m reading ‘literary’?

If literary books are the only kind you’ve put on your summer reading list, perhaps you should consider branching out.  You might try a work of nonfiction, such as a biography or an historical overview of a particular war or time period.  And if you really want to do yourself a favor, you might plan on reading a work of nonfiction that will enhance your enjoyment of a literary book you have to read.  For example, you might read Rick Atkinson’s The Guns at Last Light, about World War II in 1944-1945, before reading Joseph Heller’s classic, Catch-22.

3. Am I reading any books that challenge me?

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What in Tarnation is a Pupsplanation?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

In the first volume of Satires, the poet Horace observes that “teachers often give cookies to boys about to be taught” (I.1).  Certainly much has changed in educational practices since Horace’s lifetime in Ancient Rome, but the tactic of “sweetening the deal” for students is still very much alive today.  Teachers often encourage students to focus and work patiently by offering them rewards, such as sweet treats (like the “cookies” Horace mentions) or the chance to watch a fun YouTube video when finished.

Another approach taken by many teachers is to present information sweetly.  Think of a foreign language teacher who sings the conjugation of a verb (or the declension of a pronoun--see this), or an English teacher who dresses in costume while dramatically reading the dialogue of a play.  Educational studies have shown that this sort of teaching is effective, as it helps students to associate new ideas and concepts with positive (or at least memorable) stimuli (for one example, see this). With this in mind, we launched our Pupsplanation series on Facebook back in early March.

A  "pupsplanation," as its portmanteau name suggests, is the explanation of an abstract idea by a cute, cuddly puppy.  To date, we’ve shared photos of six adorable puppies “pupsplaining” key concepts particular to a wide range of academic subjects:  the electoral college (Government), the ablative absolute (Latin), Lewis-Dot structures (chemistry), comma-splice run-ons (grammar), and, most recently, Boolean Logic (computer science).

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EdSocial: 4 Ways to Use Social Media in the College Application Process

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Let’s face it: getting into your dream college is harder today than ever before.  According to the NYTimes, the world’s most competitive institutions had their lowest ever average acceptance rates in 2013, with the best of the best, like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, accepting lower than seven percent of those who applied (Harvard, for example, accepted only 5.79%, or 2,029 students out of the 35,023 who applied).

Do a simple Google search--something along the lines of “how to distinguish yourself for college admissions”–and you’ll find no shortage of articles offering up hundreds of useful tips, from the specific (“How to Distinguish Yourself if You Go to a Small High School”) to the broad (“What Colleges Want to See on Your Application”).  No matter what the particular angle or focus of such articles is, exactly, almost all of them suggest that the applicant express genuine passion and enthusiasm for the schools to which he or she applies–not only in the application essay, but also during interviews and even during campus visits.  

But if you’re a busy high school sophomore just embarking on your college search, how do you find the time to do all of your “homework” on the schools you’re most interested in?  And what if there simply isn’t time in your hectic schedule nor room in your budget to visit the dozen or so institutions on your shortlist?  Luckily, you can learn almost everything you need to know about the schools you’re thinking of applying to by following them through their Social Media sites.  Here are four ways to do it.

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5 Ways High School Students Can Make the Most of Summer Vacation

Monday, March 31, 2014 by College Advisor Cheryl DiLanzo, courtesy of A+ Test Prep and Tutoring.

When college admissions officers review your student’s college applications, they will be looking carefully at how he spent his summers. Here are some suggestions for how to make the most of summer vacations:

1. Volunteer – As long as the volunteer work is something that the student feels passionate about, it doesn’t matter what the nature of the volunteer work is. Students who are interested in animals may want to volunteer at an animal shelter or rescue organization. If the student is interested in health care, volunteering at a local hospital is a good option. Note that college admissions officers typically expect a volunteer commitment to last at least 40 hours total hours. Volunteer experiences also make good college application essay topics because they allow a student’s passion to shine through.

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AP History: Which Course is the Best Fit for You?

Sunday, March 9, 2014 by Kate H., Tutor Tango Subject Tutor and Test Prep Expert

AP Euro! AP World! APUSH! AP Art History! Oh boy, there are a lot of history courses to choose from -- and I can only assume you have time for one intense history class next year, so you definitely want to make sure you choose the right one for you.

AP European History is probably going to be the most difficult of the group -- but that should not be a deterrent. It is harder simply because you have not been exposed to all the many, many (many. many. MANY.) conflicts in Europe on such a scale. That said, it’s also one of the most entertaining classes history has to offer. You get to learn about defenestration, which then starts a war. A long one. Yes, you definitely have to pay attention a little more (and know when you’re getting lost in one of France’s revolutions) and keep a pad and paper handy for questions, but when you’re done, you absolutely know how to take notes and focus for history courses. AP Euro lets you understand a little bit more about our world and why countries today behave the way they do; it sets up the fundamentals for connecting dots to every region in the world. If you’re a self-motivated student who doesn’t mind a little bit of confusion and a little bit of pushing your own study-train, AP Euro is a great, challenging fit for you.

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EdSocial Installment #5: Tumblr + Math = Fun X 3!

Sunday, February 23, 2014 Tumblr launched in 2007 as an image-oriented microblogging alternative to conventional text-driven blogging sites like Blogger and Wordpress. Just over seven years later, the social media monster boasts a $1.3 billion acquisition by Yahoo!, over 172 million blogs, and over 77 billion blog posts, including many by celebrities (such as John Mayer, Zoey Deschanel, and Lady Gaga, to name three).

But beyond all of Tumblr’s well-earned hype, it’s become a convenient forum for bloggers to post educational content. As its microblogging format lends itself particularly well to the posting of images, it abounds with wonderful blogs that share cool and stimulating visualizations of mathematical concepts, problems, and solutions. And since we love math, we giddily scrolled through volumes of math-related Tumblr blogs (made easier, of course, by searching Tumblr for #math), and now we present to you our five favs.

1. Curiosa Mathematica (curiosamathematica.tumblr.com) - Curiosa is the official Tumblr blog of professor Jens Bossaert, who teaches math at the University of Ghent in Belgium. The organization of his blog is as delightfully simple as its tagline: “A collection of beautiful mathematics: attractive pictures and fun results.” Some of the more recent posts include a YouTube video of a wooden calculator that represents binary digits with falling marbles, and a photo of Roger Penrose, a mathematician and physicist standing on a floor covered with the aperiodic tiling pattern he gave his name to (they’re called Penrose tilings).

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SAT - Verbal: Top Secret Test-Taking Strategies

Monday, February 10, 2014

by Henry Zheng, Tutor Tango Test Prep Expert

Like you, I was once a student who dreaded the verbal section of the SAT because it didn’t seem to have answers that could be arrived at with a formula. However, as with any other test, doing well requires a systematic approach toward developing your mental toolkit. Hopefully the strategies below can allay your anxiety.

Manage Your Time Wisely
There are two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section for the Verbal portion of your SAT. Some people think that if they were given all the time in the world, then they would get every answer correct. Welcome to the unforgiving world concocted by the College Board in which time is precious. Start practicing without timing yourself. As you become familiar with the test, time each section without giving yourself any leeway (one minute over is one minute too many).

Preparation
Many people think that great readers and writers are born with the mystical ability of invention. However, just like in math and science, improving one’s reading comprehension requires constant practice. This means not only taking test after test under simulated test-day conditions, but breaking down each section and tackling each type of question critically. Approach your sentence completions, short passage and long passage questions with an eye for finding out why you got the answer wrong. It is painstaking at first, but you will gradually understand the patterns that govern critical reading questions. Also, it doesn’t hurt to also find out why you got the answer right (hopefully not from lucky guessing).

Plan of Attack
Although there is no direct formula for obtaining a correct answer, there are strategies that will guide you toward the right answer for each portion of the verbal section.

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EdSocial Installment #4: Too Cold For a Field Trip? Take an Instagram Trip!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Since its launch in the fall of 2010, Instagram (often referred to as “IG”) has become one of the most popular social networks for photo and video sharing. And like some of the other great social media sites, such as Facebook (which acquired Instagram in 2012), Pinterest, and Twitter, it has quickly become a convenient hub for curating and sharing educational content. Museums have found it to be an especially simple and effective way to broadcast artwork and other exhibits, and some have even created interactive tours for Instagrammers.

After perusing about a dozen of the most active museum sites on IG, we got to thinking: why not take a virtual field trip? No matter where you live--or how cold it is outside--you can visit some of these awe-inspiring museums from the comforts of your own home...and even on your smartphone! So here you go: an Instagram field trip to 5 cool museums around the world:

Stop #1: The Louvre (@museelouvre: 33,721 followers; 74 posts). Pour yourself a little cafe, grab a croissant, and go to http://instagram.com/museelouvre. There you’ll find beautiful snapshots of some of the classic museum’s most famous paintings and sculptures. First, check out one of the most recent additions to their IG collection, the Portrait de Madame Soustra, by Marie-Denise Villers. While examining the lovely Madame, open a new tab or window to learn more about the artist, whose two sisters were also highly-talented painters. Then, before you go, be sure to scroll down for a peek at a few shots of the snow-covered exterior of the Louvre--iconic Pyramid and all.

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Using Technology to Improve Your Spanish Listening Skills

Monday, January 6, 2014

by Jayk G., Tutor Tango Staff Subject and Test Prep Tutor

Spanish is a tricky language. One could spend years studying Spanish on paper, yet be let loose in a Spanish-speaking country and be completely unable to communicate. That's why listening to real conversations is just as important, if not moreso, than book learning.

The only true way to learn Spanish is complete immersion, surrounding oneself with hispanophones. With the busy lifestyle of a modern person, this may be easier said than done. Thus, we happily turn to technology, to provide us with a myriad of Spanish Listening situations.

If you're lucky enough to live in a large American city, Spanish speaking populations may be just around the corner. While conveniently located, actually understanding the coursing flow of words which sallies forth from a native speaker is easier said than done.

So, our first bit of technology we must champion is the tape recorder. To the untrained ear, one can simply not hope to separate and comprehend the fast and insistent march of palabras that cascades forth from Spanish speaking lips. But a tape recorder can allow one to slow down these words, or--an even more common feature on many devices--repeat these words over and over.

It may be a little presumptuous to suggest that our novice speaker plant themselves in a public place in a Spanish speaking neighborhood and record conversations, but it is possible. We do recommend meeting and talking with a native Spanish speaker and perhaps interviewing them, asking them a list of questions prepared in Spanish, and then recording their responses.

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