Heather Ecker is a private tutor who specializes in the Spanish language and in English essay writing. Born in Manhattan, she grew up in Boston and has lived all over the world, including over seven years in Spain. She was educated at the Winsor School in Boston, Harvard University (AB), the University of London (BSc) and the University of Oxford (MPhil, DPhil) and works as an independent scholar, curator and art consultant. Her main field of interest is the art and architecture of Spain and North Africa. She has worked with museum audiences and taught art history at Columbia University and the University of Michigan.
Heather learned to speak Spanish as an adult, which has given her great insight into how one acquires new language skills through immersive experiences. Whether shopping at the grocery store, ordering food in a restaurant, or listening to a song, every experience creates sensitivities to the way that language shapes our perceptions. Through speaking new languages, we acquire new ways of thinking. Helping high school and college students to become resilient in Spanish as a second language is a great joy. Being resilient is knowing enough about the music and flavor of the language so that any unknown situation that arises—whether in a classroom, standard test or real-life conversation—may be approached with confidence and poise.
Through reciting poetry, learning songs, and exchanging about our everyday lives, we will jump into the Spanish language with two feet from the very beginning. In this way, the structure and beauty of Spanish will begin to reveal itself naturally, leading to comprehension and a meaningful framework in which to locate verb forms and other grammatical underpinnings. We lose our shyness in a new language through experience—the more we speak and practice, the easier it becomes. If needed, we can also practice together on standard test problems, whether for the SAT or AP exams. As Spanish is a language spoken in many countries, each with some variation of vocabulary, we will look at these issues, especially as they relate to literature, film, and how Spanish is spoken in New York City in its many local communities.
Every piece of writing, in any language, is at some level a creative work. The process of gaining confidence and skills in writing shares the same path as for any other form of art—we may begin in a rather rudimentary way, but over time we gain control over the medium. Mastery in writing is then a question of structuring and refinement of expression. I teach students to become both explorers and critics of writing—engaging inward and pulling outward for greater perspective. In this way, students find an authentic pathway to clear communication in writing and also cultivate the inner guide or teacher which accompanies all good writers.