2022 Instructors

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2022 Arabic Instructors




Haidar Khezri CV

Following his PhD in Comparative Literature at Damascus University, Haidar Khezri has taught Kurdish/Sorani, Persian/Farsi, and Arabic at universities in Iran, Syria, Turkey, and the US. In 2019, he became the University of Central Florida’s first Assistant Professor of Arabic, a key role for building the university’s capacity to teach Middle Eastern languages and cultures.




Linked-In CV

“My name is Mariam, I am a language instructor since 2013. I am from Egypt. I came to the USA for the first time in 2016 as part of the Fulbright exchange program. I got my Master’s degree from UW-Madison, Department of African Culture Studies in 2019. My focus was on North African media and Education. I love cooking- especially for friends, watching movies, explore new coffee shops (before COVID-19 😒  ). I am excited for my second round with the program!”





Linked-In CV

Salah has considerable experience in the fields of teaching foreign languages, NGO work, and intercultural exchange programs. He has taught Arabic language and culture in various universities in the US. He enjoys working on cultural, and educational issues, and his long-term goal is to develop online foreign language programs in high schools and universities in the US.

2022 Persian Instructors




Linked-In CV

Fatemeh Mirsharifi received her PhD in Second Language Acquisition with an emphasis on Less Commonly Taught Languages from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the past, she has taught Persian at the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Moreover, she has collaborated on projects with the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota as well as the College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT), American Council on Education.

Her research interests include second/foreign language acquisition and pedagogy with emphasis on developing pedagogical materials for the foreign language classroom, motivation in language learning, and the role of learner attitudes in L2 motivation. She also has a passion for educational technology, creating engaging and interactive learning content to ensure a successful instructional experience.




Maryam Heydari holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin -Madison. Her curriculum studies provided her with practical knowledge and experience in designing curriculum and class pedagogies in order to facilitate student learning and help her to develop appropriate instructional strategies to fit students’ needs and support students’ engagement.

Maryam also holds a Master’s Degree in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) from University Putra Malaysia with an focus in higher order and critical thinking skills.

Maryam possess years of experience in teaching Persian and English language to language learners. She incorporates her academic knowledge and life experience in designing class pedagogies and course syllabi as well as in developing and implementing individualized development plans for her students.

She first joined the program in 2012 when she tutored and taught students at elementary and intermediate levels. While teaching Persian language, she also provides her students with real life and cultural experiences. She believes that language and culture are intricately related and that understanding of the surrounding culture is key to learning the language.




Linked-In CV

Mohamad Esmaili-Sardari is Academic Coordinator of the Middle Eastern Languages Program (Arabic and Persian) at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (Washington, DC). Since 1998, he has taught Persian and Spanish at Georgetown University, Middlebury College, the Catholic University of America, the Middle East Institute, Diplomatic Language Services, and most recently the University of Maryland’s Roshan Center for Persian Studies. In 2005, he received the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Catholic University of America. He is the author of several articles and book chapters on current perspectives and future directions of the teaching of Persian as a foreign language. His textbook “Persian in International Relations and Foreign Policy: A Content-Based Approach” is now available.

2022 Turkish Instructors




Academia CV

Yao-Kai Chi earned his Ph.D. degree in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He completed his MA in Translation Studies at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul and his BA in Turkish Language and Culture from National Chengchi University in Taipei, Taiwan. Prior to his Ph.D. study in Madison, Chi taught Turkish language and culture courses for Taiwanese undergraduate students. He is still currently teaching online Turkish courses for adult learners. Chi is also an amateur translator, publishing his first translated work from Turkish into Mandarin Chinese in 2016. He also collaborated with the faculty of the Turkish department in Taiwan to publish a textbook Türkçe Öğreniyoruz II in 2019. Chi believes that learning should connect with personal interests. He emphasizes the creation of a learner-centered environment where students can connect the foreign language learning with their daily lives. His dissertation topic is about learner identity of adult students of Turkish.




Tuğba Yıldırım Kumbasar works as a Lecturer in Turkish in MEDLI. She holds her BA in English Language Teaching, and her MA in Turkish Language Education. She is pursuing her doctoral studies in Educational Sciences PhD Program at Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. She is a scholar of “Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program (University of North Dakota, 2012), Grundtvig Program: The Creative Classroom (Europass Teacher Academy, Florence, Italy, 2014) and Fulbright FLTA Program (Brown University, 2015-2016)”. Prior to the University of Wisconsin- Madison, she worked for Özyeğin University, Brown University, TED Istanbul College and American Culture Language Schools.  She is currently teaching in the Foundations Development Year (FDY) English Program at Sabancı University, İstanbul. In addition to teaching languages, she is leading professional development sessions on the topics of “Educational Technology” and “Arts Integration” for language instructors. Her academic interests and studies include “Arts Integration in Foreign Language Instruction, Educational Technology, and Global Learning & Human Rights Education”.

Nâlân Erbil (she/her)


Pedagogy Director of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Language Institute (MEDLI) and the Turkish Flagship Language Initiative (TURFLI)


1348 Van Hise Hall

Nâlân Erbil (pronounced as NAH-lahn U-er-beel) is the Faculty Associate in Turkish Studies in the department of German, Nordic, and Slavic+, and the Pedagogy Director at the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Language Institute (MEDLI) and the Turkish Flagship Language Initiative (TURFLI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds an MA and PhD in Asian Languages and Cultures with a PhD minor in Comparative Literature from UW-Madison, and a BA in English Literature from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey. As an interdisciplinary literary teacher-scholar, she has taught modern Turkish language courses in Madison for the last ten years and currently teaches modern Turkish and late Ottoman languages, and literature and film courses. Her pedagogical interest lies in intercultural literacy and social justice education in teaching Turkey’s cultures including different ethnic and religious groups and the Turkish-German diaspora in Germany. She has studied Arabic and Persian, and is currently learning the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish.




Soner Sözler (he/his) has been working as a Foreign Language Instructor for Zonguldak Bülent Ecevit University School of Foreign Languages since 2006. He holds a BA and MA in Foreign Language Teaching and a Ph.D. in Distance Education from Anadolu University, Eskişehir, Turkey. He has thought English and Turkish at Zonguldak Bülent Ecevit University since 2006. He has taken part in European projects teaching Turkish to European students. He has published books, book chapters, and articles in the field of foreign language teaching and distance education. He is still giving lectures on teaching languages at a distance.  His pedagogical interest lies in Teaching Foreign Languages online, Designing Distance Learning Environments, Flipped Learning, and Hybrid Pedagogy.