Faculty Liaisons

Faculty liaisons work in close conjunction with language assistants regarding their work for their language programs. Further, in the case of departments with language floors, faculty liaisons serve on the Language Floor Advisory Board and collaborate with the Office of Residential Life to help shape policy and decisions regarding the language floors.


Morena Svaldi

Language Instructor in Italian; Director of the Language Assistant Program

A clinical psychologist, Morena Svaldi has extensive research experience in the field. At Mount Holyoke, she teaches Italian at all levels, with a special interest in blended learning, teaching with technology, methodology and pedagogy in second language acquisition. Her research has been funded by several Five Colleges Mellon Grants. In 2014, Svaldi became the Faculty Director of the Language Assistant Program.

Morena Svaldi infront of a stone relief

Heba Arafah

Five College Lecturer in Arabic

Heba Arafah specializes in foreign language acquisition, socio-phonetic/ linguistics, translation and interpretation, as well as refugee resettlement and protection. She teaches Modern Standard Arabic courses and examining oral proficiency in Levantine Arabic. Previously, Arafah worked with the United National High Commission on Refugees in Amman, Jordan as a resettlement interviewer, interpreter, and translator.

 Heba Arafah Five College Lecturer in Arabic Language, Mount Holyoke College

Esther Castro Cuenca

Senior Lecturer in Spanish and Spanish Language Program Director

Esther Castro Cuenca is a Senior Lecturer and the language program director of the Department of Spanish, Latina/o, and Latin American Studies. Her research focuses on second language acquisition, cognitive linguistics, and interfaces between psycholinguistics and language learning/teaching. She teaches various levels of Spanish language as well as courses on linguistics, translation, and second language acquisition and pedagogy.

Esther Castro Cuenca, Senior Lecturer in Spanish and Spanish Language Program Director

Flávia Cunha

Language Instructor in Spanish

Flávia Cunha is a Language Instructor at the department of Spanish, Latina/o, and Latin American Studies. Her main research interests are second language acquisition, applied linguistics, and bilingualism, with a focus or heritage speakers of Portuguese and Spanish and on the relationship between cultural identity and heritage speakers’ level of proficiency in their minority language.

Flavia Cunha, Language Instructor in Spanish

Nancy Holden-Avard

Senior Lecturer in French

Nancy Holden-Avard is a senior lecturer in French. Her research interests include second language acquisition, technology-enhanced learning, error analysis and transcultural competence. She enjoys inventing creative ways of empowering students to enhance their own learning, such as through mnemonic devices, feedback-rich digital dictations, and elaborate feasts of food and drink from multiple Francophone countries. A significant contributor to the establishment of language floors at Mount Holyoke, Holden-Avard is committed to maximizing opportunities for students to grow by fully engaging in cultural and linguistic explorations that expand their view of themselves and their world.

Suk Massey

Five College Lecturer in Korean

Suk Massey has been teaching language for over 20 years at the college level, including five years in Korea and seventeen years in the USA. She is currently teaching Korean at Smith College and every fall semester teaches one course at Mount Holyoke College. She teaches Korean in authentic contexts using task-based activities. In order to provide her students with rich Korean cultural experiences, Massey coordinates activities such as a Korean cooking class, a Lunar New Year Celebration and a Korean manners workshop in Korean traditional dress, ‘Hanbok’. To learn more about her teaching, visit her 5-College Korean class Facebook page.

Suk Massey, Five College Lecturer in Korean

Susanna Nazarova

Five College Lecturer of Russian, Director of Three College Russian Initiative

Susanna Nazarova's research interests include linguistics, translation, and applied linguistics. At Moscow State University, she also studied Urdu and Hindi and spent time in India researching the verbal systems of these languages. Susanna Nazarova teaches Russian language and literature and has co-authored several Russian language textbooks.  She enjoys using authentic texts in the language classroom, teaching language through art, and leading workshops in language pedagogy.

Susanna Nazarova

Naoko Nemoto

Professor of Asian Studies

Naoko Nemoto often travels to Hawaii… to be trained at the National Foreign Language Resource Center! She recently completed their summer institute on Project Based Language Learning. She is currently working on a video mini-lecture series that is supported by 5 College Blended Learning Grants for her content-based Japanese course. She is eager to transform her students to “21st Century” language learners.

 Naoko Nemoto, Professor of Asian Studies

Chan Young Park

Five College Lecturer in Korean

Chan Young Park's research interests include heritage language education, and second/foreign language acquisition.

Chan Young Park Five College Lecturer in Korean, University of Massachusetts

Donna Van Handle

Senior Lecturer in German Studies; Dean of International Students

Donna Van Handle is Senior Lecturer in German Studies and Dean of International Students.  Her specialities include cross-cultural education and learning, second language acquisition, and the use of technology in language teaching and research.  In her role as dean she offers programming and support for international students and coordinates activities that celebrate international diversity.  Her goal is to help international students learn about other cultures with differing viewpoints, perspectives and belief systems so that they can engage with their new community in a respectful way.

Donna Van Handle

Lei Yan

Senior Lecturer in Chinese

Lei Yan teaches all levels of Chinese. Her research interests include second language acquisition, Business Chinese curriculum design, and methods of teacher training. In summer 2015, she served as the Language Director for the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program in Xi’an, China. Yan was awarded a Curricular Development Grant to design a Business Chinese course in association with the Global Business Nexus that was taught in Spring 2016

Yan, Lei Lecture in Chinese, Asian Studies