James Campbell

"Maîtriser une langue étrangère, c'est comme posséder une seconde âme" (Charlemagne) 
**For testimonials, please see contact page**

Operating since October 2018 out of France, Central London and online, I am a qualified language teacher offering individual and group tuition in French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and English as a foreign language. I also provide tuition to adults for business and/or recreational purposes.  

Most recent DBS dated March 2017
Personal Background

I have always enjoyed meeting people and getting to know new friends! To find common ground with those from other countries, it is helpful to know a bit about their culture; books, films, music, and above all, language. Conversational fluency allows you to become truly involved and connected to life in other countries, rather than just observing from the side-lines. It can be challenging (there are a lot of words out there...!) but the right level of challenge is stimulating and fun. After all, little that's worthwhile comes easy!

I loved language lessons at school and the trips abroad that came with them. I didn't have a career plan in my head so I just decided to learn more about the things that fired me up. So I applied to read French and Russian at Exeter University which saw me begin my year abroad picking grapes in Bordeaux and end it with a Trans-Siberian trip from Moscow through the Far East. As quoted on my tuition page of this website; "a liberation from insularity..."!

I then worked for three years on a finance management training programme at British Airways (my degree in languages got me in the door) before disappearing off to Milan to study opera singing and teach English, where the Direzione Investigativa Anti-Mafia featured among my corporate clients! Returning to the UK, I went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the London Opera Studio and since then I have had some wonderful jobs performing repertoire in Italian, French, Spanish, Russian, German and Czech around the UK, Europe and further afield. Opera is the meeting point of music, language, literature and art, so it is my spiritual home. Following a TEFL course and a PGCE from Canterbury Christ Church, I began to teach French and Spanish in schools in the UK and I now combine my opera singing with a career in language tuition, operating from London and my physical home in France. 

The key that has opened all these doors and allowed me to pursue these different paths has been my curiosity about languages. It is this enthusiasm, delight and spirit of enquiry into languages and foreign cultures that I am keen to pass on to others. Every word we use has its own history, evolution and mini-culture embedded in it, along with its connections to other languages. Our thoughts are shaped by the words we choose to frame them and give them life. It is this fascinating world of thought and communication that I would like to equip others to explore as well.

What else floats my boat? Well... sailing, kayaking, hiking, cycling, yoga, theatre, movies, reading, eating out, catching up with friends, evenings by the fire and planning the next trip abroad!

 
Tutoring Experience

Teaching French and Spanish as a classroom practitioner in secondary schools (Key stage 3 to A level) has provided me with a wide range of teaching techniques that engage young minds and enable them to make outstanding progress, including those with Special Educational Needs. I attend regular CPD sessions, for example on the new GCSE exam specifications, I network and exchange ideas with other tutors, and I have worked as a Year 13 form tutor, supporting students through their final school year and the UCAS process, refining their personal statements and applications and helping them to secure places on a range of Higher Education courses. I have been supporting pupils through iGCSEs in Italian, the Baccalauréat in Spanish and for conversational fluency in French, and I have recently participated on an intensive exchange programme in Belgium and Holland, giving lessons on specific aspects of language and culture.

When I lived and worked in Milan, I taught English both to small groups of corporate clients and to private individuals. This was primarily aimed at business professionals wishing to improve their communication skills in English, so I would address my clients' particular needs in various ways; short texts to learn about appropriate register (formal/informal), breaking down and practising specific grammar points, and conducting themed, conversation-based lessons.

 
Tutoring Approach

We all learn languages differently, and it is my job to find out how you learn best so that you can make progress in a mixed spirit of fun and challenge. We'll start with working out what level you are at, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how I can best help you move forward and build independent study skills. Each lesson will be carefully planned either to complement any scheme of learning you may be following in school, or if appropriate, to establish a tailored scheme of our own. If you are studying for exams, there are certain topics we will have to cover, but I'll always try to approach them in a way that matches your interests. It's hard for anyone to learn well if they are not hooked into the subject matter!

Language learning is not just the acquisition of knowledge. It is the combination of developing four practical skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing - and of dealing with the 'marmite' issue of grammar. The clue to the skills bit is in the word practical. Skills require practice. Using a range of relevant and topical resources and past papers, I'll provide audio clips to listen to (radio, music, real life situations...), opportunities for dialogue and pronunciation tips, texts and articles to read and structured writing tasks. These will also be designed to help you build your vocabulary, so that you are memorising words by practising them, rather than learning lists of words in isolation.

As for grammar - this is the science behind the art. It is the logical "glue" that sticks words together and makes communication happen. For instance, if I ask you about your homework and you reply "I've done it", "I'm doing it" or "I'll do it", I only get what you're telling me if we both understand the communicative difference in these tenses. So I won't avoid grammar, but I will approach it very differently according to how you feel about it. Some people love it! Basically, I think grammar can either be explained or absorbed, but it remains a vital part of the toolkit that will eventually boost your confidence, allowing you to succeed in exams and providing a shortcut for learning other languages later in life. It also improves your expressive abilities in your own language.

For A level, it's more of the same really, but with the added bonus of investigating some of the literature and films of a country's culture. Having performed and directed operas in the past, the exploration of plays and stories is close to my heart. It's all about looking at how writers and film-makers communicate themes, social ideas and characterisations through style, form, medium and choice of words. We'll go about developing those skills through a range of approaches, study aids and exam-style questions.
When it comes to exams, we will carefully adopt productive revision methods and develop efficient and effective exam technique to help you get the results you're after!

 

French is my oldest language love. It was my favourite subject at school and I really enjoyed studying the classic texts of Beaumarchais' Le Mariage de Figaro and Molière's Tartuffe for A level.  I read French and Russian at Exeter University, dividing my year abroad between Bordeaux and Voronezh, and I now live in the South of France. I have also worked in Paris on several occasions, making many vrais amis! (There's a lingo joke in there!)

With a PGCE in MFL from Canterbury Christ Church, I have recently taught KS3 to A-level in non-selective schools in Kent (the new AQA GCSE specification).

 

I can't get enough of the sound of the Spanish language, with its open Italianate vowels interspersed with the light guttaral 'j's and 'th' sounds of the 'c's and 'z's. I read Don Quixote in Milan (it took me a few months!) and the story and songs by Ravel and Ibert about the Don have enchanted me ever since. I have travelled and worked on several occasions in Spain and South America. and have regular "chat pals" from Mexico. My PGCE from Canterbury Christchurch in MFL includes a Spanish focus, and I have taught it at KS3/4 in a non-selective school in Kent (the new AGA GCSE specification.)

 

Italian opera was the reason I left my job in finance for the uncertainties of a performing career! I went to Milan where I lived in an Italian flat-share, studied singing, and worked for two years as an English teacher.  I have been singing Italian opera and song ever since. Self-taught (with the long-suffering help and patience of my Italian flatmates!), I speak it fluently and teach the language at KS3 and KS 4 level, with over 100 hours of tuition experience. 

 

I came to the study of Russian at an exciting time. The Soviet Union had ended, Gorbachev was in power, and the words гласность (glasnost) and перестройка (perestroika) were on everybody's lips.  Borrowing from Churchill, Russia was"a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" and in many ways still is today. I have enormous respect for the country; its artists, writers, composers and its people. The language is rich and challenging, with a very different grammar and alphabet from our own. But having been welcomed into a Russian family in Voronezh for 6 months, and having re-experienced the warmth of the Russian people recently during my first visit back in 25 years, I'm very fond of the place.  I only offer a beginner's Russian course for now.

 
Online

I am a firm believer in the virtues of online tutoring. Here are some advantages along with notes concerning the software I use to conduct the lessons. Further technical information is provided in a welcome email if online sessions are selected.

1) Many of the younger generation feel very at home with laptops, apps and online software. This learning environment can lead to increased engagement, and the techno-comfort factor helps to put them at ease, which is ideal for quality learning.

2) It can be less intimidating for a student to be interacting via a computer from the 'un-invaded' privacy of their home rather than in the physical presence of an adult teacher. It is less formal, the tutee is often more relaxed, less pressured and less 'put on the spot'. Consequently they are often more receptive to new ideas and less afraid of making mistakes.

3) It saves on travel time and costs, plus the associated difficulties of traffic, parking and time wasted due to lateness.

My preferred software for online lessons is Zoom.  The software is free and it can be downloaded from: Zoom Client for Meetings Download Link:  https://zoom.us/download#room_client  (This link may not work in Microsoft Edge. You need to be using Chrome browser)

 

The software is available for PCs, Apple mac, and tablets such as the iPad. I have generally found that it is much more reliable than Skype.

I usually use an online whiteboard too - called bitpaper - which is accessible through your browser and does not require installation. We can also share documents either through Google Drive or Microsoft Onedrive, enabling us to work on questions collaboratively.  By using shared online workspaces, it is possible to keep a set of notes from the lesson to refer to after the lesson.