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College of Arts and Letters | Michigan State University

In the Spotlight

On this page we feature a member of the Second Language Studies Program. Right now our spotlight is on Virginia David!


November 2014

Virginia David


My passion for teaching a second language began when I started teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in my first year of college in Brazil. I taught at a private language school for 6 years. I had the pleasure to work with young children, teenagers, and adults of all proficiency levels. After college, I realized that there was so much more to learn about teaching and second language acquisition (SLA) that I decided to seek a graduate degree. I received my MA in TESOL at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 2011. For my MA thesis, I examined how language learners use communication strategies when searching for words in informal conversations outside of the classroom.

It was at the University of Illinois where I first taught an English-as-a-second-language (ESL) writing class. Since then, I have been engaged in ESL writing research, and I have been looking critically at writing-assessment practices. I have been teaching ESL writing courses for advanced learners for several years now. I currently teach in the English Language Center at Michigan State University (MSU). For my dissertation, I am investigating two different tests used to evaluate ESL, academic writing. I am examining the reliability and feasibility of the two tests and exploring test takers’ and raters’ attitudes toward the tests.

At Michigan State University, I have acquired vast experience in language teaching. In addition to teaching English to non-native speakers of English, I have taught undergraduate courses on language-teaching methods and SLA. These courses mostly comprised pre-service, K-12 teachers as the courses are required for K-12, endorsement to teach ESL in Michigan public schools. In the summer of 2012, I collaborated on the development of a Portuguese online course with the Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA). In 2013, I worked as a research assistant on a large, U.S. Government grant program awarded to the University of Duhok in Iraq and MSU. As part of the MSU team, I helped faculty at the University of Duhok redesign their English-language curriculum. I traveled to Duhok with MSU faculty, which was exciting and eye-opening. Without a doubt, my work in English-language teaching and research is gratifying, inspiring, and dynamic.


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