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

Lecturer in Italian, Faculty 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 teaches Modern Standard Arabic and Levantine. Her research interests include social psychology of language, second language acquisition, bicultural identity and multilingualism. Prior to joining Mount Holyoke, she worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as a resettlement interviewer and interpreter in Jordan.

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

Esther Castro Cuenca

Senior Lecturer in Spanish

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

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.

Susanna Nazarova

Five College Lecturer of Russian

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

Kyae-Sung Park

Five College Lecturer in Korean

Kyae-Sung Park teaches Korean at all levels. Her research interests include first (L1) and second (L2) language acquisition, Korean linguistics, and language pedagogy. She is interested in the discourse effects of information structure on native and non-native speakers’ choices in word‑order alternations. Her research is concerned with whether properties pertaining to different linguistic and extralinguistic levels cause difficulties for L2 learners – and if so, how these difficulties can be theoretically explained and then practically overcome in the L2 classroom.

Kyae-Sung Park Configure Five College Lecturer in Korean

Donna Van Handle

Senior Lecturer in German Studies; on leave fall 2020

Donna Van Handle is Senior Lecturer in German Studies. Her specialities include cross-cultural education & learning, second language acquisition, & the use of technology in language teaching & research. She follows the principles of Universal Instructional Design (UID) when designing & teaching her classes. UID considers the needs of all learners, including those who have documented disabilities, in the belief that everyone can benefit from such an approach. Students have 24/7 access to online materials in many formats (video, audio, text, etc.), featuring different approaches to the material in order to accommodate various learning styles and/or disabilities while preserving academic rigor.

Donna Van Handle

Lisha Xu

Senior Lecturer in Asian Studies

Lisha Xu teaches all levels of Chinese, from beginners to advanced. Her research focuses on technology-assisted language learning, translation and language learning.

Lisha Xu, Lecturer in Chinese