About the Author

A photo of me and my husband at our wedding My name is Clarissa. I have a master’s degree in English/TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). My bachelor’s degree is in history, with a minor in Asian studies.

I have studied two languages since starting college: Chinese and Japanese. Because I have studied languages that are very different from mine, I understand how hard it is to learn a language like English. I have also studied abroad (in Taiwan), so I understand how stressful that can be, too. Every English student I have ever met speaks English better than I speak Chinese or Japanese. So I really admire and respect my students and my friends who are learning English.

Most people my age and older learned languages using old methods such as the Audiolingual Method or Grammar Translation. These methods are stressful, slow, and don’t work well for most people. There is evidence that more realistic methods work better. These methods usually emphasize real communication and actually doing things using the language. These methods are also more fun, even when you’re working hard! What I really believe is

Memorizing grammar rules IS NOT ENOUGH to be able to read or write understandably.

Memorizing vocabulary words does NOT teach students how to use them.

Reading for fun DOES HELP students learn vocabulary words and sentence patterns.

Of course, you have to memorize some rules. But if you don’t use the language, you haven’t really learned anything. When I got to Taiwan, I couldn’t speak enough Chinese to get on the right bus. But I had studied Chinese for more than three years! I know many of my students and friends had the same experience when they came to the US. Even though they had studied English for years, they had never used it or had fun with it. So they had studied English, but not learned English.

I want to help you learn English as well as you want to learn English. I think reading is a big part of this, so you’ll see that I post lots of things for you to read. If you can read something in English for fun, you’ll learn faster and you’ll be less bored! Just remember, I’m not recommending fun things because I’m lazy or you’re lazy. I don’t think we’re lazy. I’m recommending these things because I think they can work, based on the research I have read. So I’m going to encourage you to do the things that researchers think work: reading for fun, experimenting, making mistakes, talking to people, etc.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my husband. I enjoy my town because of its three year-round farmers’ markets, Taiwanese-style tea cafes, Chinese bakeries, and other wonderful places to shop and eat. We also have an excellent library and a small lake surrounded by a park, which has lots of flowering trees, ducks, snowy egrets, turtles, and other signs of nature.

My hobbies include jewelry-making, digital photography, and sketching. I mostly draw in pen or pencil, but I’m learning how to use a tablet to make digital art. I love to read everything from translated classical Chinese poetry to comic books.

I enjoy going to museums (both large and small) and scenic spots. My local favorites include the Exploratorium, the Asian Art Museum, the Oakland Museum of California, the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, and Muir Woods. I also have happy memories of Orgel House in Kurashiki, Japan; the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan; the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan; Jiu Fen in Taiwan; Kiyomizudera in Kyoto, Japan; and Itsukushima/Miyajima, near Hiroshima, Japan.

If there is anything else you would like to know about me, please send me your question by leaving me a comment below. Thank you!

5 thoughts on “About the Author”

  1. Hi Clarissa. I enjoy your blog. It’s nice of you to answer questions for students over at Dave’s student forum. I followed your link from there over to here. You really know your stuff. I hope you get a great full-time job with your new degree.


  2. Hi Clarissa! What a great blog you have! I’m totally going to use this for ideas and resourses as I teach! You’re a gem!

    So, obviously this is viewable in China, but I can’t see your photos. I don’t know exactly what Andrew’s done to make my photos work, but I do know that sites like Flickr are useless here.

    Thanks for all your helpful comments, and I’ll be viewing your page often!


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