Convocation, Profile

Entrepreneurial MA graduate takes his love for teaching online

October 07, 2019

Trevor Block had always been interested in logic and solving puzzles so it was only natural he was drawn to mathematics and linguistics. While completing his education at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Block discovered his love for teaching and combined his interests to become his life's work—an online tutoring platform called TrevTutor

It was during his undergraduate degree in cognitive science at SFU that Block got his first taste of linguistics. He took a particular liking to courses taught by professor Chung-hye Han, who recognizing his potential, recruited him to the XSyn Lab and suggested he pursue further studies in linguistics.

Block took that advice to heart and this week he will receive a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Linguistics. 

Pursuing a graduate degree in linguistics opened up opportunities for Block and provided him with an avenue to hone his teaching skills. In fact, he described his time as a teaching assistant (TA) as one of the top highlights of his MA degree. 

"I really love interacting with students and seeing them learn difficult things," says Block.  "It's very rewarding when you push them and they perform even better than what you expect. It's also been nice seeing so many of the students I taught in the first year of my MA here go through the program, graduate, or even become a MA student here."

Now that Block has completed his MA degree, he plans to continue working as a writing tutor at the Linguistics Department Writing Centre (LDWC) while building up his entrepreneurial venture TrevTutor.

"During my undergraduate degree, I saw Khan Academy, PatrickJMT, and many other educational videos, and I figured I could probably do an okay job," says Block. "It took a long time to become okay at it. It was unplanned but I'm grateful that making videos also greatly improved my ability to communicate and give presentations."

With TrevTutor, Block harnessed his love for teaching mathematics and linguistics by creating Youtube videos, answering questions on his Subreddit board, and developing lesson plans on his website. The venture exceeded Block's expectations—so far he has over 85,000 followers and 120,000 monthly views on his growing Youtube channel. 

"Ideally, if I can build my own platform and have a teaching job, I would be incredibly happy," says Block. "So, I'm going to spend the next couple years working towards making that viable, and see what I can do to make online education a little bit better for mathematics and linguistics."

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ADVICE TO NEW STUDENTS?

I have no idea. I'm still sort of in awe that I've actually completed this degree. 

Here are the words of wisdom: Ask for advice when you need it. And then actually listen to it. Like seriously. 

Fall 2019 Outstanding Academic Achievement Award Recipients

This fall convocation, the Department of Linguistics is recognizing a small group of graduating students for their outstanding academic achievements.