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  • Writer's pictureJasmine Weis

Tutor of the Month

Azucena Zuniga

July’s tutor of the month goes to Azucena Zuniga. Zuniga joined Bright Bird Tutoring about six months ago, but already, she has made a lasting impact. Her ESL tutoring, as well as her passion for helping others through teaching, has made her more than qualified for Bright Bird’s first ever “Tutor of the Month” designation.

Zuniga just graduated from Sonoma State University with a BA in liberal arts. In order to complete the program, she was required to find an internship of some sorts. She contacted Bright Bird Tutoring about a possible internship, and co-founder Heather immediately got her set up with Sofiane and Nariman. A young couple from Algeria, Sofiane and Nariman were in need of an English tutor.

 Around the house, they speak in French with their children to preserve their fluency, but they also aspire to read, write, and speak English proficiently. In particular, Nariman, who was a veterinarian in Algeria, wants to learn English so that she can get her veterinary license in the United States.

Zuniga has been working with Sofiane and Nariman for the past six months. When asked about her experience working with them, her whole face lights up, and she speaks with a contagious enthusiasm. Watching Sofiane and Nariman progress in their English speaking abilities has been an incredible rewarding experience for Zuniga. Whether it’s going through a whole lesson plan, or merely chatting about their days, she always finds a way to make the learning interactive, effective, and enjoyable.

While she is not paid for tutoring them, Azucena loves what she does, and gains valuable experience working with those aspiring for fluency in English. It is an experience that will prove beneficial in her future endeavours as an ESL teacher.

Azucena was drawn to ESL teaching from a young age. Coming to the United States when she was 2, and growing up in a Spanish-speaking household, Zuniga knows all too well the struggle of learning a new language in a new environment. Up until fourth grade, she was taught by bilingual teachers, so she didn’t have to worry about learning English. But, in fourth grade, that all changed. Her fourth grade teacher didn’t understand Spanish, and Zuniga realized she was going to have to teach herself English.

These early experiences have contributed greatly to Zuniga’s passion for teaching English. Empathy is key to successful teaching, as Zuniga’s tutees will be able to attest to. On top of her internship, she tutors regularly for Bright Bird and teaches at a literacy program held at the JFK library in Vallejo.

Azucena will be applying to TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) programs at San Francisco and San Jose State University in the fall. After receiving her certification, she plans on teaching English in South Korea.

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