learning and teaching foreign languages

Why are, or were, you in academia?

Like many academics, I fell in love with a subject and followed where it led. There is something to the idea that, because it takes so long to reach the end of a higher degree, the person you are at the beginning and the person you are at the end might not value the same things or even love the subject with the same level of intensity as when you started. My specific interests and areas of research have changed quite a few times since I started college, but I’m still in academia because this hasn’t changed – I still love learning and teaching foreign languages and trying to figure out how that happens.

What’s your favorite thing to teach, and what kinds of things happen in your classroom?

I have taught subjects such as Russian language, culture, and film, as well as topics in applied linguistics. One of my favorite things about teaching these subjects is that students must reflect on their own language, culture, and beliefs about language and culture in order to learn about and discuss another language and culture. If you’ve taken a linguistics course, you probably remember being confronted with the idea that language isn’t just a rigid set of grammar rules, but rather something that is constantly changing and evolving as people use it in their daily lives. In my courses I want students to analyze their own beliefs about language and culture as well as the way cultural norms and stereotypes inform our interactions with others. If nothing else, I want them to walk away with a better understanding of their own beliefs and the way they express them to others.

What do you do outside of your academic work? 

I have a few hobbies that I’m eternally trying to find more time for, like everyone else – knitting, sewing, reading for fun. I try to get together with friends regularly, often to knit, and I’m a member of a local quilting guild. I follow a few sports, mainly hockey and college football. I try to volunteer with a few local organizations when I can.