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Graduate Students

Daria Aleeva

I am from Irkutsk, Russia, in Siberia.  I hold a B.A. in Teaching Foreign Languages from Irkutsk State Linguistic University and an M.A. in TESOL from Portland State University (PSU), Oregon. I have been teaching Russian since 2007, first as a Fulbright Scholar at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, then as a Teaching Assistant in the Russian Flagship Program at PSU. I also spent a year working for the Russian Flagship in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Now I am a proud student of the SLA Doctoral Program and a part of the Russian Flagship team at UW-Madison. My research interests include teaching Russian as a foreign/heritage language, multiliteracies framework, and ACTFL proficiency assessment.

Takuji (TJ) Aso

Understanding additional language learning has always been my main concern since college. My primary research interest has been to understand language learning in terms of participation in society by applying a set of theoretical approaches within the social sciences called Practice Theory and its associated cultural learning theories that define learning as participation in social practices. But because of my broader interest in the relationship of language with society, culture, and education, I also enjoy various so-called “social” approaches to SLA in general.


I graduated from Waseda University in Tokyo with a B.A. in English and an M.A. in education, both from the School of Education, where I was trained in English applied linguistics. After completing the master’s program, I worked for three+ years as a research associate in English language education at the university’s English-medium undergraduate school, where it is their educational policy to conduct all classes in English and there are many international students from around the world. One of my duties there was to help Japanese students having adjustment problems in this English-medium yet multilingual learning community, which is an unfamiliar learning environment for the majority of the first-year Japanese students there. Hoping to find ways to empower them, I conduced studies on their identities and learning in the community. This research boosted my interest in critical perspectives on applied linguistics and education, and they are now important part of my interest. Since the research, I often think about the politics and power surrounding the native-speaker concept and “nativeness” in language learning, and whether their relationship with the notion of legitimate speaker is being dissolved or reinforced by the global spread of English. 


Currently, I am trying to figure out how I can integrate all of my interests—SLA, Practice Theory, learning-as-participation, global spread of English, and critical perspectives—with my future dissertation research in mind.


Clara (Bicho) Salto Weis Azevedo

I am originally from Madrid but I have been studying and teaching in the US for some time now, mainly in East Lansing, MI and in Chicago. I have taught Spanish and Portuguese at the college level and I am currently teaching Spanish at UW. My research interests include second/foreign language teaching, postsecondary instruction and particularly the process of writing in a second/foreign language.

Emphasis: Spanish

Sandra Descourtis
picture of Sandra

Originally from Paris, France,  I completed a Master’s degree at the University of Grenoble in 2015 in Teaching French as a Foreign Language where I developed my interest in bilingual education by writing my thesis “Early childhood bilingualism: a case study of bilingual families”. Then, I decided to pursue my studies in the US and I earned a Master’s degree in Teaching French as a Foreign Language at the University of Arizona, where I taught French at different levels. My research interests include early childhood bilingualism and multilingualism, as well as the relationship between emotions, identity and L2 development.

Sara Farsiu


I am a dissertator in Second Language Acquisition Program at UW-Madison. I received my M.A. in English Philology, General Linguistics, and Iranian Studies from the University of Cologne, Germany in 2012.


I have been a teaching and lecturer assistant in Persian and German at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since September 2014. For the beginning, intermediate, and advanced Persian, I develop almost all the teaching material myself. In Summer 2016, I worked as a Faculty Associate (Language Lecturer) for the Arabic, Persian, Turkish Language Immersion Institute (APTLII) at UW-Madison. In Summer 2015, I volunteered in China and taught ESL. In Summer 2014, I worked as a German language teacher and a counselor at Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota.


My research interests include documenting the experiences and language trajectories of immigrants and refugees from the Middle East, the influence of cultural differences in learning a foreign language, mother tongue education in Iran, minority and refugee education, age and L2 learning, and the advantages and disadvantages of native and non-native speaking language teachers.


In 2013, I published “Shemiran: The Palaces and Gardens”, in Farhang-e Mardom, an Iranian Folklore Quarterly, No. 45-46, pp. 16-40, in Persian.

Hadis Ghaedi

I hold a B.A. in English Language and Literature and an M.A. in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from Shiraz University. I am now a proud Ph.D. student in the Second Language Acquisition program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to my academic pursuits, I have taught English to second and foreign language young and adult learners in Iran and in the U.S.. Currently, I teach academic writing in the ESL program and work for the Institute for Humanities Research at UW-Madison. I also an experienced Persian tutor for enthusiasts of Persian language and culture. My research interests are second language writing, English for academic/specific purposes, second and foreign language acquisition, sociolinguistics and mixed research methods.

Ryan Goble

I’m originally from Southern California, so I’ve been enjoying the variety of seasons here in the Midwest (yes, even Winter isn’t that bad)! The excellent food and coffee shops are part of Madison’s charm as well! I attended California State University, San Bernardino for my B.A. (English Linguistics) and M.A. (Applied Linguistics/TESL). I presently teach ESL here at UW-Madison, but I also have experience teaching language learners of many different levels and cultural/linguistic backgrounds, both in the U.S. at ASU and abroad in Perú.


Regarding research, I’m generally interested in target language use in contexts/practices beyond the walls of the language classroom, focusing on such issues as community membership and identity. In the past, this has involved investigations of how English-Spanish bilingual medical providers interact with Spanish-monolingual patients.


More recently, I’ve been investigating the language narratives of third-generation Mexican-Americans, as they construct their experiences growing up in a bilingual family and using—or not using—Spanish. This research project resulted in my receiving the AAAL 2014 Graduate Student Award and in a 2016 publication in the Heritage Language Journal, “Linguistic Insecurity and Lack of Entitlement to Spanish among Third-generation Mexican-Americans in Narrative Accounts.”


As I finish my second year of coursework and begin to develop ideas that I might carry with me to dissertation-land, I have been fortunate to have many inspiring conversations with supportive professors and colleagues who engage with, challenge, and help to refine those ideas. 



Lauren Goodspeed


I received my BA in Public Relations and French from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI in 2011. After completing my undergraduate degree, I studied French Literature at UW-Madison and earned my MA in 2013. I then spent a year in Lyon, France teaching English to middle and high school students. When I returned to Madison in 2014, I entered the doctoral program in Second Language Acquisition, focusing on literacy-based frameworks for second language teaching. Currently, I am completing my dissertation on learner practices and perspectives of genre-based writing.

Jennifer Gray

Jennifer teaches all levels of French.  Her research interests are second language acquisition, post-secondary pedagogy, L2 teacher development, literacy-based L2 instruction, technology in the L2 classroom and study abroad experiences.  She holds a Master's degree in French literature from the University of Kansas and is a PhD candidate in the Second Language Acquisition program at University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Her dissertation is entitled "Becoming a teacher: the first year experiences of novice Romance language teaching assistants."

Emphasis: French

Colleen Hamilton

As a Doctoral Candidate in Second Language Acquisition, I work with Spanish-English bilingual youth in the U.S. to study their experiences of language in schooling. I approach this research agenda through the lenses of intersectional identity negotiation, language and power dynamics, and cultural-historical theory. My dissertation research investigates how bilingual youth position themselves for the transition to postsecondary opportunities by leveraging their bilingual experiences to identify systemic barriers and improvise spaces for translanguaging throughout their schooling. In the future, I plan to continue working with bilingual youth and other educational stakeholders in order to illuminate the possibilities of language-in-education as it contributes to academic success. My focus on bilingualism and education is built on a foundation of diverse experiences studying languages in France as an undergraduate at Manchester University (Indiana) and in Catalonia as a masters student at the University of Barcelona (Spain). Instructional positions held in English as a Second Language, French, and currently Teacher Education have informed my goal of contributing to more equitable, culturally-historically grounded, and dynamic understandings of language in research and teaching.


Emphasis: Bilingual Education

Paul Madden

I was born and raised in the New York area; I studied sociology and Spanish as undergraduate at Ohio State University, and afterwards, inspired by Freire's theories, I was an ESL teacher in Latin America. I loved teaching so much that I went back to school and got my MA in TESOL from NYU.  In addition to teaching in Latin America, I have also taught in a private college and in urban community colleges in the NY/NJ area, and I am now a full-time lecturer in EFL at Tsinghua University in Beijing. I treasure diversity and before coming to Madison I lived in Queens NY, one of the most diverse places in the world. In my research I hope to combine my love of languages and other cultures with my background in sociology (a subject in which I did graduate coursework). I'm interested in sociolinguistics (especially Bourdieu's theories on the relationship bewteen language and power) and World Englishes from a conflict theoretic vantage point;my current research focuses on the effect English has on the social class structure in China. 

Emphasis: English

Sandrine Pell

I was born in France, not far from Lyon (between the Beaujolais and Burgundy wine regions). Since getting my Masters in Teaching French as a Second Language, I have taught French and English for 15 years in different contexts (primary and secondary public schools, language schools, universities) and in different countries (India, China, Morocco, France, the UK). These experiences triggered my curiosity about how languages were learnt and used, leading me to join the UW Second Language Acquisition (SLA) program in 2011.

My doctoral research focuses on issues of identity, language and power within institutional contexts. After living and working in France and in Morocco, I became aware of the tension within French society and youth of Maghrebi descent. For my dissertation, I want to study how Franco-Maghrebi students’ negotiate their identities within the French education system. This is an important and timely issue, and I feel that this research is needed both from a theoretical and political stance. 

Emphasis: French

Kazeem Sanuth

I am from Lagos, Nigeria. I hold a B.A.(ed) in English Language and Education from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and an M.A. in African Languages and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I have taught Yoruba language at UW-Madison for three years; first as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Scholar and then as a graduate Teaching Assistant. My research interests include intercultural communicative competence, material development for African languages and use of films in postsecondary instructions.

Emphasis: Yoruba

Scott Stillar

While my hometown is Reno, NV, I have spent the last 12 years living in Japan.  I received both my B.A. (Linguistics and Japanese) and my M.A. (TESOL) from the University of Nevada. For the previous six years, I was employed as an assistant professor of foreign languages and cultures at Tsukuba University in Japan.  I have also worked at Waseda, Hitotsubashi and Nihon University.  My career highlights (so far) are publishing in TESOL journal and presenting at the TESOL conference. My current research focus is looking at the various ways in which White Privilege affects second language learning.

Chen Sun

I grew up in Hefei, China and came to Madison in 2012, after I received my BA in English Education in China. I received my MA this spring and decided to continue my PhD study here in Madison. My current research interests are second language learning and cultural pragmatics study. I'm also intrigued by Labov's sociolinguistics research in African American English.

I love teaching and learning languages, and have taught English to middle school students back in China and here in Madison to visiting scholars. I hope my research in second language acquisition can generate useful pedagogical implications for ESL/EFL students and teachers.

Emphasis: English, Chinese and ESL/EFL

Marina Tsylina

I come from Nizhniy Novgorod, a wonderful city in the European part of Russia. There, I studied at the Linguistics University, from which I graduated with a Specialist Diploma in Theory and Methods of Teaching Foreign Languages and Cultures in 2006. Since that time, I have developed a strong interest in second language acquisition and classroom teaching. My interest in the structure and the complexity of my native language led me to graduate studies at the University of Oregon (2014-2016), where I earned a master’s degree in Slavic Linguistics.


I have been teaching foreign language courses since 2006. I have taught English as a foreign language at a university in Russia to students of different proficiency levels. I have also taught heritage Russian courses at Portland State University (2009-2010), beginning Russian language courses at the University of Oregon (2014-2016), and a variety of courses in the Russian Flagship Program at Portland State University (2016-2017).

Gordon West
Gordon received his BA in Global Studies from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and his MA in Second Language Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He previously worked as a teacher educator at Sookmyung Women's University in the TESOL department. He has taught ESL/EFL in South Dakota, Hawaii, South Korea and Japan. His research interests are critical pedagogy and assessment, teacher education, narrative analysis, and social justice in language teaching.
Leah Wicander

I am from Mt. Pleasant, MI and I received my BA in Secondary Education for Spanish and German from Hope College. I have my MA in Applied Spanish Linguistics from Michigan State University. My research interests are methodologies and pedagogy for secondary and post-secondary education, specifically in-class activity development and execution. I am also interested in the integration of technology in the classroom. 

Emphasis: Spanish

Bingjie Zheng


Bingjie received her B.A. in English language and linguistics in Shanghai International Studies University and City University of Hong Kong in China. After working as an EFL instructor in Shanghai for several years, she moved to Philadelphia in 2013 and received M.S.Ed in TESOL from the University of Pennsylvania. Bingjie’s research interests include linguistic anthropology, critical discourse analysis, bilingualism/multilingualism, and second language acquisition.