Faculty Profile

Applied Linguistics Faculty

Elizabeth O'Dowd, PhD

Professor of Applied Linguistics/TESOL

M.A., Ph.D. University of Colorado at Boulder
M.A. New Mexico State University
B.A. University of Lancaster, England

Areas of Expertise:

Teaching English to speakers of other languages; English grammar and discourse structure; World English

Courses I Teach:

  • Bilingualism and Multicultural Education
  • English Grammar
  • Introduction to Language and Linguistics

My Saint Michael's:

Saint Michael's is a small enough community that you know most people you see when you cross campus. But it's large enough that we have a great variety of research interests and expertise, as well as the opportunity to hook up for cross-disciplinary work. The faith-based tradition allows faculty and students to explore moral issues and clarify their values more holistically than you would find at a public academic institution.

My students seem the most inspired when they are learning how different languages work - for example, how the same "word" said with different tones in Chinese or Vietnamese might mean five completely different things; or learning about "mystery" languages like Basque, which has no known relatives and is nothing like its neighboring languages, French and Spanish.

What I like most about Saint Michael’s students is their commitment to service - at least 70 percent of them do some kind of outreach either through their coursework or voluntarily - and their close solidarity with each other.

Since the Applied Linguistics Department deals with teaching English as a second or international language, it is the best place to make friends with international students, whether graduate, undergraduate, or short-stay intensive English students. Because we're also a receiving center for Fulbright scholarships, some of our students come from countries that rarely send visitors to the U.S. - for example, Niger, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Iraq, Rwanda, Palestine, and Turkmenistan, to name a few.

Research Interests:

Teaching English to speakers of other languages; English grammar and discourse structure; World English  

My research and experience with speakers of other languages lets me help American students step back to see their own language and culture from a non-native point of view. My teaching allows me to move from theoretical to applied linguistics, focusing not so much on how to describe English as on how it is actually used, understood, and learned.

I am a co-principal investigator with Project CREATE (Curriculum Reform for the Education of All Teachers of ELLs), a program at Saint Michael's funded by the U.S. Department of Education to assist with training teachers of English Language Learners.

In March 2008 I presented a plenary paper on "Teaching Grammar for International English: Insights from the Inner Circle" at the Annual Convention of TESOL in Athens, Greece.

Life Off Campus:

Outside Saint Michael's, I enjoy camping, traveling, and working with horses.

Favorite Quote:

"It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations." - Winston Churchill

Elizabeth O'Dowd, professor of applied linguistics, and James Nagle, associate professor of education, presented a keynote speech October 25 at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Association for Colleges of Teacher Education, at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. The talk was entitled "Bridging the Divide: Project CREATE Brings Interdisciplinary Educators into Collaboration for Academic Literacy." It explained the concept and implementation behind the recent five-year federal grant project, CREATE, and demonstrated applications of systemic functional linguistics (SFL) for improving academic literacy. Also, James presented another paper about Project CREATE at the annual conference of the Northern New England Teachers of English for Speakers of Languages (NNETESOL) at the University of Southern Maine on November 9. The paper presentation entitled, Evaluating English Learner Curriculum Reform in a Teacher Education Program, was co-authored by undergraduate mathematics student, Maura O'Riordan, and described the improvement of pre-service teachers at Saint Michael's College instructing English learners in public schools. (November 2013)

Learn What Matters