Professionals in Education Advancing Research and Language Learning (PEARLL) is one of sixteen National Foreign Language Resource Centers (LRCs) that work to increase the nation’s capacity for language teaching and learning.

As part of the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland, PEARLL seeks to improve language educator effectiveness, knowing that “effective teachers are the most important factor contributing to student achievement” (NADSFL, 2015, p. 1). PEARLL contends that classroom practitioners need: (1) access to models of educator effectiveness highlighting practices and curricula; (2) opportunities for reflective practice; (3) leadership support from those charged with directing their programs; (4) support from language teacher educators; and (5) engagement through professional learning that guides their understanding of research, reflective practice, and implementation of models.

PEARLL activities, research, and resources promote models of educator effectiveness, facilitate reflective practice for language educators, develop effective program leaders, connect language teacher educators with classroom practitioners, and provide professional learning opportunities for language educators.

educator advisory board2022-2026

PEARLL’s educator advisory board is a diverse group of active classroom practitioners that reflects the varied communities of world language educators targeted by PEARLL projects. The advisory board plays an active role in shaping the development of PEARLL programs and resources.

Trudy Anderson

Trudy Anderson has been teaching Spanish at Nathan Hale School in New Haven, CT, for almost 30 years. Ms. Anderson is passionate about collaborating with colleagues, especially new teachers. She has been a Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute fellow, a world language coach, and a presenter at local and national conferences. Ms. Anderson was named the Northeast Conference on the Teaching for Foreign Languages Teacher of the Year in 2022.

Stephanie Carbonneau

Stephanie Carbonneau is a middle school French teacher in Maine with a master’s degree in teaching languages from Southern Mississippi University. She is known for her “Glow and Grow” approach to language learning that focuses on interactive communicative lessons using authentic resources. She currently serves as vice president of the Foreign Language Association of Maine and is also a member of cohort 4 of the Leadership Initiative in Language Learning.

Dany Doueiri

Dr. Dany Doueiri is a professor of Arabic Language and Culture at California State University San Bernardino. He is a frequent guest lecturer and expert commentator for media organizations. Dr. Doueiri served as a STARTALK program director, site visitor, and team leader. He is the academic director of the Center for Languages, Arts, and Societies of the Silk Road and is the cofounder of Human Assistance and Development International.

Ying Jin

Ying Jin has more than 20 years of Chinese language and culture teaching experience in diverse settings. She is currently a teacher of Mandarin Chinese in the Fremont Union High School District in Cupertino, CA. Ms. Jin was named the 2018 ACTFL Teacher of the Year and currently serves on the board of directors of ACTFL. She is also the current president of Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools.

Betsy Sandstrom

Betsy Sandstrom is an experienced Russian teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County Public Schools (VA). She regularly presents workshops on topics such as performance assessment, backward design, and standards-based instruction. Ms. Sandstrom served as president of the American Council of Teachers of Russian and received its Service to the Profession award in 2008. She served as a team leader and program director for STARTALK programs from 2010 to 2021.

founding advisory board2018-2022

PEARLL is grateful for the vision, guidance, and support offered by members of the founding advisory board.

Mary AbbottACTFL

Helena CurtainUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (WI)

Sharon DeeringArlington Independent Schools (TX)

Greg DuncanInterprep

Laura FranklinNorthern Virginia Community College (VA)

Antonia SchleicherUniversity of Indiana (IN)

Duarte SilvaStanford University (CA)

Alyssa VillarrealShelby County Schools (TN)

core team

The faculty and staff who lead PEARLL projects and activities are nationally recognized educators and researchers with a strong history of excellence and innovation in world language education, language research, and event and project management.

Rebecca DamariCo-Director

Dr. Rebecca Damari, codirector of PEARLL, holds an MS and PhD in linguistics from Georgetown University. She is the director of research for the NFLC, where she has conducted research projects on the professional learning needs of language teachers, the need for a multilingual workforce, and the demographics and equity of language immersion programs in Washington, DC, public schools. Dr. Damari has extensive experience with program evaluation and conducts program evaluations for private and charter schools. She has presented research at conferences including ACTFL, the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL), and the American Association of Applied Linguistics and has twice been an invited plenary speaker for the Interagency Language Roundtable meeting.

Thomas SauerCo-Director

Thomas Sauer is the codirector of PEARLL, a Title VI language resource center at UMD, where he has facilitated face-to-face and online annual professional development for language teachers. He previously worked as an independent consultant and a K–12 world language specialist for several school systems in Kentucky. Mr. Sauer taught German at the University of Kentucky, Georgetown College, the Kentucky Institute for International Studies, and Kentucky Educational Television. He is a sought-after workshop facilitator, curriculum developer, and keynote speaker. He previously served as an instructional lead for several successful STARTALK teacher programs. Mr. Sauer holds an MA in instructional leadership and school administration from Bellarmine University.

Sharon SolerProject Manager

Sharon Soler’s work at the National Foreign Language Center since 2009 has included guiding the creation of language learning materials in over 30 languages, ensuring the quality and timely delivery of all project deliverables, and managing critical processes for the NFLC in its administration of the STARTALK federal grant program. Prior to her work at the NFLC Ms. Soler was an Assistant Director with the Office of Professional Studies at the University of Maryland, where she oversaw enrollment and student services for post-graduate programs targeted to working professionals. Ms. Soler holds a BA in Government from Georgetown University.

project directors

PEARLL projects are lead by a team of educators representing a mix of University of Maryland faculty, faculty at collaborating institutions, and independent consultants.

Rich Madel

Dr. Rich Madel is a Spanish teacher and chairperson of the Department of World Languages in the Colonial School District in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. Dr. Madel was named Teacher of the Year in 2018 by the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association. Dr. Madel has dedicated his career to supporting his colleagues’ professional growth and promoting a reflective, research-based approach to world language teaching. He has been a regular contributor to professional learning opportunities at the state, regional, and national levels.

Catherine Ritz

Dr. Catherine Ritz is a clinical assistant professor and director of modern foreign language education at Boston University. Previously, she taught French and Spanish and was the director of world languages in a public school district in the Boston area. Her areas of interest include developing proficiency-based thematic curricula and performance assessments, effective world language methods and pedagogy, and language teacher development. Dr. Ritz has served on the board of the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association and was its president in 2015 and 2016. She is the author of Proficiency-Based Instruction: Input & Interaction in World Language Education and Leading Your World Language Program: Strategies for Design and Supervision, Even If You Don’t Speak the Language!

Laura Terrill

Laura Terrill is a nationally recognized independent consultant who recently worked as the senior associate for professional development for the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. She taught French at all levels for 21 years before becoming the coordinator of foreign language and English as a second language and then director of curriculum for a school district in Missouri. She has taught methods courses in St. Louis and Indianapolis and continues to present at the local, state, regional, and national levels. She has served on the board of directors for the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and ACTFL. She coauthored the second edition of The Keys to Planning for Learning: Effective Curriculum, Unit, and Lesson Design. Ms. Terrill holds a BA in French from the University of Missouri and an MA in secondary administration from Northeast Missouri State University.

external evaluator

Ann Marie Gunter

Dr. Ann Marie Gunter is the world languages consultant at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, where she provides policy leadership, professional development, and technical assistance for K–12 world language programs. Her evaluation experience spans local, state, regional, and national projects, including work with LinguaFolio initiatives (5-state pilot, ESL Can-Do Statements, e-LinguaFolio, and the NC LinguaFolio), federal grants (Perkins, Foreign Language Assistance Program, and STARTALK teacher programs), and state-level teacher evaluation measures like the Analysis of Student Work. Dr. Gunter has presented numerous times locally, regionally, and nationally, and she is involved with projects that build the pipeline of language teachers for her state and the country. In 2020, she was named State Supervisor of the Year by the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL).

what is an LRC?

In 1990 the Language Resource Center program was created under Title VI of the Higher Education Act to fund centers focused on improving the nation’s capacity for teaching and learning foreign languages. There are currently 16 Language Resource Centers in the United States, each working under a four-year grant that runs from August 2022 – August 2024. While some centers concentrate on specific language areas and others on world languages in general, all share the common goal to develop resources that can be used broadly to improve world language education in the United States.

Each LRC has a unique story and mission, but all LRC work is organized around the following basic areas:

Research and dissemination of new and improved teaching methods, including educational technology

Development and dissemination of new teaching material

Development, application, and dissemination of performance testing

Training of teachers in the administration and interpretation of performance tests, the use of effective teaching strategies, and the use of new technologies

Focus on the needs of those who are teaching and learning less commonly taught languages

Development and dissemination of materials designed to serve as a resource for foreign language teachers at the elementary school and secondary school levels

Operation of intensive summer language institutes

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PEARLL is a Title VI Language Resource Center at the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland.

Some contents of this website were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education.