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Entering Class of 2015

mehtapacarphoto-250x176Mehtap Acar

My name is Mehtap Acar and I am from Turkey. I earned a B.A. in American Culture and Literature from Hacettepe University in Turkey, which I believe, shaped my stance towards life by gaining me a wider perspective. However, aiming to have hands-on experience, I decided to start my career as an English language instructor and taught English for seven years at two different universities in Turkey. Meanwhile, I completed the program of Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (DELTA) by University of Cambridge and received my M.A. degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Ege University, another Turkish university within the borders. Now I am ready to deepen my knowledge in the light of my experience in the field by attending the SLAT Ph.D. program as a Fulbright scholar.
My research interests include multicultural education, culturally responsive pedagogy, use of cultural elements in language classes and peace education.
Apart from academia, I like travelling, hiking, cycling and cooking.

image-250x333Sara Alcazar Silva

My name is Sara Alcázar Silva and I was born in Michoacán, Mexico, and grew up at the border, which instilled an interest in cross-linguistic and cross-cultural communication. I graduated in the spring 2013 with a BA in French Language, Literature, and Culture and Spanish Translation and Interpretation at the University of Arizona. I also received my MA at the University of Arizona in French in the spring 2015, specializing in Teaching French as a Foreign Language. During my studies, I have participated in various translation and interpretation opportunities, including teaching and developing curriculum at the National Center for Interpretation.
My research interests are developing, but my main focus currently is translation and interpretation pedagogy, the affective filter, cross-linguistic influence, and impact and effectiveness of feedback.

jennapicture-250x266Jenna Altherr Flores

I am delighted to be joining the doctoral program in SLAT. I hold a B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology, with a minor in Greek and Roman Studies from Rhodes College, an M.A. in Classical Languages and Classical Archaeology from Florida State University, and an M.A. in English Language/Linguistics from the University of Arizona. I served in the Peace Corps as an English as a Second Language teacher trainer and literacy specialist in the Central American nation of Belize for 33 months. Prior to joining the Peace Corps, I taught high school Latin and worked as a field archaeologist in Athens, Greece. I currently teach English composition for international students in the University of Arizona Writing Program, volunteer with resettled adult refugees through Iskashitaa Refugee Network, and teach ESL in the Refugee Education Program at Pima Community College Adult Education. I am on the steering committee of TESOL International’s Refugee Concerns Interest Section, a member of the Arizona Refugee Strategic Planning Committee, a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow, and a board member of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Southern Arizona. My research interests are in sociolinguistics, multilingualism, adult second language learning and pedagogy, literacy, language policy, and language ideology. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and my Weimaraner, running, and hiking in beautiful southern Arizona.

img0781-250x333Essa Batel

My name is Essa Ali Batel and I am from Saudi Arabia. My B.A. was in English language and linguistics from King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia and M.A. was in English as a Second Language. I taught English as a foreign language for a few years at a Saudi University before coming to Tucson. My major is in L2 Processes and Learning and my minor is in Pedagogy. My research interests include: the cognitive aspects of L2 fluency, the role of memory in Second Language Acquisition, L2 mental lexicon, and L2 material design and development.

In my free time, I play tennis, soccer, or bowling. I also like traveling as well as exploring ethnic restaurants around Tucson.

tahneebucher-250x225Tahnee Bucher Barbosa da Silva

Hello! My name is Tahnee Bucher and I am originally from Vitória, a city located on an island in the Southeast of Brazil, and in January of 2015 I moved to Tucson to teach English in the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) at the University of Arizona. I have over 10 years’ experience in language teaching, and I feel very fortunate for having chosen this career. I earned my B.A. in English Language and Literature from the Federal University of Espírito Santo, Brazil, and my M.A. in TESOL from West Virginia University, where I also taught ESL for four and a half years and Portuguese as a Foreign Language for two years. My research addresses issues in pragmatics, and I am particularly interested in investigating and helping improve ESL learners’ communicative skills, intercultural competence, and ability to use language appropriately in a social context. My professional interests also include adult second language acquisition, language assessment, discourse analysis, and teacher training. When I am not busy studying or teaching, I enjoy traveling, spending time with friends, and reading for fun.

elifburhanpicture-250x166Elif Burhan

My name is Elif Burhan-Horasanlı, and I grew up in Kocaeli, Turkey. I received my BA in English Language Teaching from Istanbul University. During my BA degree, I taught Turkish to speakers of other languages and I also attended several international student work camps, which can also be called as social responsibility projects, either as a participant or as a camp leader. In 2011, I started working as an instructor of English for the college of foreign languages at Gazi University, in Ankara, Turkey. Besides, there I also taught English for specific purposes such as English for aircraft and biology in several faculties. To enhance my knowledge in the field of language teaching, I received my MA degree in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) from Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. At present, I pursue my academic career as a Fulbright Scholar at UA in SLAT Ph.D. Program by associating my teaching experience and previous academic studies. My research interests are reflective practice, sociolinguistics, curriculum and course development, and educational technologies. Outside of language, I also like travelling, camping, watching movies, and taking photos.

img2126-250x241Borbala Gaspar

My name is Borbi (Borbala) Gaspar. I came to Tucson 9 years ago from Hungary. Before coming to the United States I lived in many other countries, including Romania, Ukraine, and Italy. I have a degree in Italian and an M.A. in English as a Second Language. I have been teaching Italian at the University of Arizona for 8 years now and due to my constant moving, travelling, and knowing multiple languages, I gained a strong interest in second language acquisition and teaching. I am particularly interested in the sociolinguistic aspects of language learning and use. I aim to continue research in the area of language and identity during my PhD studies. I am also passionate about Italian culture and language, and language teaching. I aim to minor in pedagogy and further develop the general use of technology in language learning. I enjoy spending time with my daughter, husband, and our two golden retrievers. We have also planted our first vegetable garden and we are working hard to keep our plants alive. I love being outdoors, hiking, camping, and running. I am looking forward to my PhD studies and to conduct successful individual and collaborative research projects.

dsc0549-300x199Maredil Leon

My name is Maredil Leon and I come from Venezuela; a beautiful country in the north of South America. I was born in Caracas, Venezuela, but I spent at least 17 years of my life living in the city that I now call home: Valencia, Venezuela. There, I attended Universidad de Carabobo where I earned a BA in education with a major in English. After college, I spent about 4 years working as an English as a Foreign Language teacher in bilingual Venezuelan schools; I taught 9th grade, 4th grade, and did some college teaching as well. In 2013, I came to the US through the Fulbright program and completed my MA in English as a Second Language here at the University of Arizona. I have been living in Tucson for the past 2 years and I really love the desert! In my free time, I enjoy travelling, camping, photography, and watching TV shows.
My research interests are: politics of education, curriculum development, language assessment, program administration, and teacher training.

imagesDavid Ruben Lozada Gomez

David is a PhD student in the Second Language Acquisition and Teaching program at UA. He plans to major in L2 Use and minor in L2 Pedagogical Theory and Program Administration. He holds an MA in Applied Linguistics from the Universidad de las Américas-Puebla and a BA in Foreign Language Teaching from the Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in Mexico. His main interests include cross-cultural and interlanguage pragmatics as well as second language pronunciation and vocabulary teaching. Outside of academia, David is an avid moviegoer and a soccer enthusiast.

alexphoto-250x333Aleksey Novikov

I’m Aleksey Novikov, a Master’s student in the Russian and Slavic Studies Department. I have applied for SLAT this year and now waiting for the admission results. I’m in my fifth semester in the Russian program, and now I’m working on my thesis, which deals with pedagogical implications of the Russian verbal aspect (spoken corpus vs textbooks). Prior to coming to Arizona, I taught ESL in Russia and China. My research interests lie in corpus-informed/driven pedagogy, frequency-based approach to SLA, materials development, and speech perception. I’m excited about new learning opportunities, exchange of ideas and networking.



Casey Richardson (

My name is Casey Richardson and I hail from Los Gatos, California where I graduated a Los Gatos High School Wildcat.  I completed my Bachelor of Arts degrees in Linguistics and Spanish in 2012 from the University of Oklahoma. I recently received my Master of Arts in English as a Second Language from the University of Arizona in Fall 2014. Now I am a Ph.D. student in SLAT continuing my studies at the University of Arizona. My primary interests are in student investment and anxiety and how the levels of these affective factors may (or may not) affect second language learning. My extracurricular interests include cheering on my native San Francisco Giants, 49ers and my Golden State Warriors. I also enjoy getting pulled down the streets of Tucson by my dog, Lela.

nicolepicture-250x284Nicole Schmidt

Hello! I am honored to be a new member of the SLAT community and an ESL instructor at the University of Arizona’s Center for English as a Second Language (CESL). My second language teaching and acquisition journey began in October of 2005, when I moved to Madrid, Spain. After a couple of years teaching students of all ages, I migrated to Groningen, the Netherlands, where I earned my Master’s degree in TEFL Applied Linguistics and taught at the university’s Talen Centrum. During this period, I also explored the metacognitive reading strategy use of English language learners and participated on international research related to the development of online tools which support the standardization of CEFR based writing assessment. Finally, I traveled to Asia in 2012 and taught English at Aoyama Gakuin University, in the heart of Tokyo’s fashion district. Currently, I am interested in the intersection between learner autonomy and language acquisition, but that is certainly subject to change. In my spare time I enjoy yoga, camping, hiking, traveling, sleeping in, and reading or doing absolutely nothing on the beach.

snellamanda-250x333Amanda Snell

Amanda Snell grew up in central Indiana. She received undergraduate degrees in Spanish and English from Purdue University and an M.A. in English with certificates in Teaching Writing and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from IUPUI. She has worked as Editorial Assistant for the Journal of Teaching Writing and taught in the Writing Program at IUPUI. In addition, she enjoys serving in the community and has developed language and family literacy classes for adult immigrants and refugees in Indianapolis and served as the Adult/Community representative on the INTESOL board. In 2014, she received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Germany, where she taught English to secondary school students and German to adult refugee women. Her research interests include family literacy, adult immigrants’ access to quality language instruction, discourse about immigration, and the connections between mental health and language acquisition. In her free time, Amanda enjoys running, writing letters, and traveling with her husband, Dennis, who works as a software developer for

img4894-250x250Bruna Sommer Farias

Olá! I’m Bruna, from Brazil. I first came to Tucson to work as a Fulbright Portuguese Teaching Assistant in 2014-2015. I am happy to resume my work at the Spanish and Portuguese Department by teaching as a GAT of Portuguese during my doctoral studies. I hold a licentiate degree in Portuguese and English and an M.A. in Language Studies from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. My research focus has been on exploring additional language pedagogy through genre and discourse theories. My interests include genre and discourse studies, teacher education, material and curricula design, linguistic anthropology, language policy, and teaching and learning Portuguese as an additional language. Thus, my main areas of interest lie in the field of Language Use and Pedagogy.

angelsteadman-300x225Angela Steadman

My name is Angel Steadman, and I received my B.A. in English with a minor in Sociology from the University of Tennessee in 2004. After graduating, I worked as a writer, editor, and volunteer ESL teacher for three years before trying my hand at teaching English in Costa Rica. I received my M.A. in teaching ESL through the English Language/Linguistics program here at the University of Arizona in 2010, and since that time, I’ve been working at the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) as an instructor and program coordinator. I am now the Teacher Training Coordinator at CESL, which means I have the wonderful opportunity to work and collaborate with English teachers from the Tucson community and around the world. My interests include online language teacher education, facilitating collaboration in online environments, and fostering learner autonomy, among many other topics. When I’m not working, I enjoy yoga, traveling, cooking, gardening, and going on long hikes with my dog.

imag1655-350x198Stefan Vogel

I came to the University of Arizona (UA) in 2013 as an exchange student from Germany. Even though I’d been enrolled in a teacher training program (secondary education) for a few years prior to moving to the Southwest, I decided to stay in the U.S. to pursue a career in higher education. In 2015, I completed the M.A. program in English Language and Linguistics at UA (now English Applied Linguistics) as well as an M.Ed. degree in English, French, and Educational Studies with a concentration in foreign language instruction from the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. I also spent a semester abroad as an Erasmus student at the Université Rennes 2 – Haute Bretagne in 2011.
I currently teach first-year composition in the English Department. My philosophy to teaching (in a nutshell) is “think outside the box and across borders.” I enjoy challenging my students’ ideas about themselves, their culture, and the world because so many great ideas pop up in our heads when we leave our comfort zone. It is my hope that the ambiguity I make an integral part of my teaching and the cognitive conflicts I try to create will help my students to become open-minded individuals who embrace otherness and different lifestyles rather than perceive them as a threat to their own identity constructions.
My overarching academic interest is intercultural education. In particular, I’ve been thinking about how we can teach our students intercultural understanding through the study of the linguistic systems they acquire as their L1(s) and L2(s). Other current interests of mine, which are closely tied to my focus on intercultural learning, include native-speaker models and models of functional language use, multilingualism, language ideology in EFL teaching materials and materials development, myth and culture teaching in online environments, critical discourse studies, teacher cognition, student plagiarism in ESL contexts, legitimate participatory membership in communities of practice (mostly in relation to genre theory), and sexual identities in L2 contexts. My most recent work focuses on pronunciation teaching in global EFL settings and how it relates to symbolic competence and social roles in L2 learning.

filesep1782450pmMichelle Vonie

Hello! I am delighted to be joining the SLAT community at UA. I have a B.A. in English Literature and Psychology from SUNY Geneseo and an M.A. in TESOL from the Ohio State University. After graduating from OSU, I moved to South Korea to work as a researcher at Seoul National University on their national test of English proficiency. During this time, I worked on test development and production, eventually taking on a supervisory role. Upon returning to the United States in 2013, I continued my work in assessment with Pearson English. I also assisted in the development of Pearson’s Global Scale of English, a set of syllabuses based on the CEFR that measure the proficiency of English language learners. Currently, my primary research interest is second language assessment, particularly ESL assessment. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, writing, knitting, traveling, and watching hockey whenever and wherever I can.

pornnicha-250x313Pornnicha Weerakanto

My name is Pornnicha Weerakanto. I am an English language lecturer from Thailand. At the moment, I have a full scholarship from University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce to further my doctoral degree.  Until now I have gained 16 years of teaching experience at a tutoring school, an international school and two private universities in Bangkok, Thailand. I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in English Language and Literature and a Master’s degree in TEFL. Teaching is not just a job, but is my life story.
I cannot envision a more challenging opportunity to expand my global perspectives and develop teaching expertise better than this doctoral program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching.
My research interest is aimed at improving student’s writing accuracy by the use of a monitoring system. Consequently, I am interested in applying and evaluating various techniques, such as self-monitoring, peer editing and teacher – student conference to promote awareness and understanding of wrong English sentences. I am familiar with assessing writing since I was a writing course instructor for several years. My students were more engaged and active in learning writing with me since they knew I have explored many flexible strategies and developed online teaching materials to improve their academic writing.
Furthermore, I plan to focus on implementing task-based language teaching that incorporates students’ mobile devices in order to evaluate the effect of this technology on motivation in learning grammar. Therefore, I want to investigate to what extent technology fosters autonomous learning.