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Michael Burke

Testing supervisor and Student Advisor, ESL Program, Duquesne University

Statement of Research Interest/ Problem of Practice:
Michael's research interest centers on the issue of national foreign language policy, specifically as it pertains to English language instruction.

Michael Burke has been involved in international education for more than 25 years. He completed both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Pittsburgh. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Studies and a Master of Education degree in Foreign Language Education. He is currently the Testing Supervisor and Student Advisor in the ESL Program at Duquesne University.

Prior to his work at Duquesne, he lived and worked in the United Arab Emirates for twelve years. The majority of his time there was spent with the University General Requirements Unit (UGRU) at the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU). UGRU is a developmental program serving approximately 4,500 post-secondary students. The English language department employed a faculty of more than 300 lecturers. During his tenure at UAEU, he taught English language classes and held coordinator positions in the areas of student academic support, test administration, academic administration, and academic services. In addition to the positions listed above, he headed the English department's faculty recruitment efforts. In this position, he oversaw the hiring of close to 400 university and K-12 English language lecturers/teachers.

In 2008, he was seconded to the UAE Ministry of Education to lead the launch of the Madares Al Ghad Project. This project was a Ministry of Education K-12 initiative that was piloted in 50 schools nationwide. The goal of the project was to improve students' English language proficiency while at the same time moving students and teachers away from traditional modes of instruction and learning that relied on rote memorization and teacher-centered classrooms. In doing so, the project sought to create a more collaborative instructional approach that emphasized student-centered learning, parental and community involvement, and alternative forms of assessing student performance.

Previous to his employment in the UAE, he worked at the University of Pittsburgh's English Language Institute. There he served as both the Housing Coordinator and the Student Activities Coordinator. His responsibilities included teaching, organizing student events, publishing a weekly newsletter, and assisting international students in securing off-campus housing.

The experiences listed above have provided him with opportunities to develop professionally, gain insight into post-secondary educational issues, and broaden his global perspective.

Mentored by: Dr. Susan Todhunter
Director, English as a Second Language (ESL) Program, Office of International Programs, Duquesne University 

Dr. Todhunter is a second language educator with teaching experience that encompasses English as a Second Language (ESL), Russian, and foreign/second language education. She has taught in the U.S. and abroad, at the university level and in schools. She joined the Office of International Programs at Duquesne University in 2011 as Director of the ESL Program.

Dr. Todhunter has taught ESL for over 30 years in intensive university programs at Duquesne University, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Point Part University and Harvard Summer School. She instructed adult learners of English at the Instituto Americano in Barcelona, Spain and high school students at the Bakmun School in Incheon, South Korea. During the time of political transformation in Russia, Dr. Todhunter sought state instructional certification and spent a year as a middle and high school teacher of Russian. She then lived with her family for a year in Kazan, Russia, where she taught English to university students, middle school students and English teachers completing their requirements for continuing education.

Dr. Todhunter taught graduate courses in foreign language teaching methodology and supervised student teachers in K-12 language classes while completing her doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She won a Fulbright grant to return to Russia and help design an education program for English teachers at Kazan State University. In 2000, she joined the faculty of Modern Languages at La Roche College. There, she administered the ESL Program and taught both ESL and Spanish Education courses. In 2005, she created and then directed the ESL Specialist Program for the college's Education Department to meet new requirements for certification of all K-12 ESL teachers in Pennsylvania.

Working with students from around the world has given Dr. Todhunter direct and personal knowledge of the challenges of acculturation in academic settings abroad and in the U.S. As Director of the ESL Program, Dr. Todhunter specializes in supporting language learners' integration with academic and professional communities. She works with University departments to promote high standards of proficiency in academic language use and to increase students' opportunities to interact across cultures.

Her professional interests include teachers' support for language learning through verbal interaction in the classroom, the impact of community engagement on learning language and culture, and approaches to language teaching informed by functional linguistics. Dr. Todhunter presents regularly at NAFSA and TESOL conferences.

Dr. Todhunter holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Pittsburgh with specialization in Language and Literacy, and a Master's degree in Linguistics with TESL Certification.