Vesna Dimitrieska, Bridges Language and Program Coordinator
Vesna Dimitrieska, Language Coordinator of Bridges: Children, Languages, World, is a PhD student in the IU School of Education's Department of Literacy, Culture and Language Education. She most recently was Academic Deputy Director for the Language Center at South- East European University in Macedonia guiding curriculum development for English, Macedonian and Albanian languages. She has twelve- year experience of teaching General English, ESP and EAP to both children and adults. As a CELTA tutor and British Council teacher trainer, she has trained pre- and in-service language teachers in China, Macedonia, Mexico, Turkey and the USA. Her research interests include language teachers’ pedagogical knowledge, language teacher cognition, teacher learning, sociolinguistic competence of language learners as well as professional development of in-service teachers.
Dr. Martha Nyikos, Bridges Director of Pedagogy
Martha Nyikos is Director of World Languages and the English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher Education Program at Indiana University. Serving on Indiana state standards committees and as past president of Indiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, her interests in language learning and non-Indo-European language pedagogy led to a specialization in language teacher education, curriculum development, and learner-centered instruction. Bilingual in Hungarian-English, she has taught high school and college German and has designed online methodology courses, including Materials and Curriculum Development, Advanced Study of Foreign Language Teaching, Teaching Languages to Young Learners, and Practicum in Language Teaching. Since 2001, Martha has taught Strategies-Based Instruction courses for the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition Summer Institute, University of Minnesota. She has provided professional development workshops and institutes for teachers and curriculum developers for organizations such as the US Department of State, Central States, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in countries such as Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Hungary, Malaysia, Mali, China, the Russian Far East, and Thailand. She is engaged in grassroots community-based language partnerships through the Bridges Program and is pedagogical advisor for several Title VI centers. Having served on the editorial board of The Modern Language Journal, Martha's research interests includes second language learning strategies, heritage language development in new linguistic environments, and parental-child agency in the project: Language Maintenance Narratives Online.
Naomi Kathryn Spector, Bridges Project Founder
Naomi Spector, community advocate and advanced doctoral student in Arabic Literature, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Indiana University founded the IU-Bloomington Bridges Program in 2005. "Bridges: Children, Languages, World", a community-based program for children, began as Alef Ba. Specializing in Less-Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL) instruction for preschool environments, Spector brokered the establishment of nine classrooms (pre-K to grade 8) featuring Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Mongolian, Russian, and Swahili. Naomi designed the Bridges methodology (emphasizing child- and site-responsive programming) and directly oversaw on-site teacher development. Naomi has studied seven world languages, including Arabic (concentration), Persian, Hebrew, Japanese, and Wolof. Accepted for Arabic at Middlebury and Alchawayn Universities in 2007 for language, she elected to study in North Africa. Informally, Naomi designed and implemented bilingual Japanese and Spanish language programs in Danville, Illinois and Chicago, Illinois starting 1991. She has taught intensive writing for Arabic poetry at IU-Bloomington; was Research Assistant for faculty of Latino and Caribbean Literatures, University of Illinois, Chicago; GED preparation specialist for Malcolm-X College, Chicago, Illinois; and volunteered for Chicago-based ESL Volunteers of America. Naomi is currently Vice President for Indiana Network for Early Language Learning.