Theresa Catalano

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Theresa Catalano

Associate Professor

Ph.D. (2011) Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
M.A. (1998) English Language/Linguistics, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
B.S. (1990). Elementary Education. University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Dr. Catalano’s research focuses on global citizenship education, education and migration, and critical language studies. Her first area of focus is committed to building pathways that encourage students to be part of the emerging world community and take actions to promote its values and practices. To do this, she examines the development of interculturality in future and practicing teachers as well as how teachers can prepare their own students to become interculturally competent communicators. Additionally, she investigates the development of critical cultural awareness in foreign language classrooms, which is an essential element to becoming interculturally competent. Finally, she looks at how social movements such as Occupy can be utilized as opportunities for the development of global citizenship.

Her second focus presents systemic, societal and pedagogical strategies for working with super-diversity in school environments in which students are linguistically and culturally diverse. This focus recognizes the increased migration occurring globally, and the need for teachers to be prepared to work with students learning dominant languages, a population that has been largely ignored until recently. Some of the areas of inquiry in this focus include identity negotiation of immigrant students, culturally and linguistically responsive teaching, media discourse about dual language programs and Latino migrants and their educational implications. Dr. Catalano’s book, entitled “Talking about global migration: Implications for language teaching” (Multilingual Matters, 2016), will feature the stories of migrants from around the world (gathered in interviews conducted in more than 12 countries and will take an in-depth look at the metaphors used when migrants talk about their experiences. The book aims to help teachers of all subjects and levels understand the migration experience from the perspective of their students and adapt their instruction to be more inclusive of an increasingly multilingual, globally mobile student body.

Dr. Catalano’s third area of focus provides tools for situating and navigating important societal issues as they relate to the language classroom. In this area, she examine the ways in which both powerful and powerless groups (e.g. Mafia, CEOs, Latino and Roma migrants, teachers) are represented in the media, and incorporates the analytical tools and perspectives of critical multimodal discourse studies, critical metaphor/metonymy analysis, social semiotics and cognitive linguistics.  All of Dr. Catalano’s work highlights the belief that teachers have a responsibility to serve as agents of social change.


In addition to her research, Dr. Catalano also serves as faculty advisor for the TLTE graduate student association and is co-leader of TLTE’s Master of Arts with emphasis in language teaching and acquisition/ELL (MAlta) program.

Dr. Catalano teaches or co-teaches courses related to second and foreign language education, including:

  • Secondary World Language Methods (TEAC 451/452/851/852)
  • Linguistics (TEAC 813K)
  • Intercultural Communication (TEAC 813J)
  • Language Planning and Policy (TEACH 902A)
  • Teaching ELLS in the Elementary Education Classroom (TEAC 317)
  • Schooling and the Multilingual Mind (TEACH 921B)
  • Introduction to Multimodal Textual Analysis (TEAC 930B)
  • Workshop Seminar Integrating the Humanities into K-12 Teaching (TEAC 890)

Areas of Expertise:

    Second, Third and Additional Language Acquisition and Teaching
    Critical Discourse Analysis
    World Language Education

Professional Highlights

Honors and Recognition
2014, Finalist for 2014 Founders' Emergent Scholars Award, International Society of Language Studies and the Language Studies Foundation2013, Faculty Affiliate, Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools, University of Nebraska-Lincoln2014, College Distinguished Teaching Award, College of Education and Human Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln2011, Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant, College of Humanities, University of Arizona2008, Excellence in Service Award, Department of French and Italian, University of Arizona2006, Excellence in Teaching Award, Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, University of Nebraska at Omaha1995, Nebraska PTA Honorary State Life Award for Excellence in Teaching, Western Hills Elementary School, Omaha, NE