Campus News Society & Culture

Professor to work with public schoolteachers in Brazil

Aderhold Hall (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

UGA linguist’s project is one of only 130 selected this year

Paula J. Mellom of the University of Georgia has been selected by the U.S. Department of State for a two-month, virtual English Language Specialist project.

The project focuses on TESOL Professional Development of public schoolteachers in Brazil in collaboration with BRAZ-TESOL. Mellom is part of a select group, as her project is one of 130 that the English Language Specialist Program supports each year.

Paula J. Mellom

Mellom is a linguist specializing in educational linguistics and teacher preparation and serves as the interim director of the Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education (CLASE), housed within the Mary Frances Early College of Education at the University of Georgia. For the last 11 years, her research and instruction have explored the role of collaborative, conversation-based instruction on academic and linguistic growth in the classroom setting.

For that reason, much of her work has focused on the professional development and support of pre- and in-service P-12 teachers in the United States and Central America to develop their ability to make academic content accessible to linguistically and culturally diverse learners and support English language learning.

To this end, in collaboration with her team, Jodi P. Weber and Rebecca K. Hixon, she has conceived of and developed the Arch of Collaborative Conversation-Based Instruction, the CLASE model for Instructional Conversations. They have developed face-to-face and online trainings in this culturally responsive pedagogy, supported by a robust online platform of resources designed to foster the sustained implementation of the pedagogy by the more than 1,500 educators comprising the CLASE IC Community of Practice.

For the English Language Specialist Program, Mellom will offer the keynote speech at the BRAZ-TESOL Virtual Conference to be held on Oct. 17.  Additionally, Mellom and her team will collaborate with the BRAZ-TESOL team, as well as the Regional English Language Office in the U.S. Embassy in Brazil, to develop a five-part workshop series providing Brazilian public school TESOL teachers with an introduction to the Instructional Conversation pedagogy.

Throughout the workshops, Mellom and her team will engage teachers in in-depth, interactive discussions exploring such topics as the role of teacher-leadership in sponsoring school change and maximizing student learning in under-resourced environments (particularly in the context of COVID-19). The workshops will be designed to provide the two cohorts of 25 teachers (selected from the estimated 650 conference participants) with authentic opportunities to practice using the synchronous and asynchronous tools necessary to build community, develop language and deepen content understanding of their students in a virtual environment.

The English Language Specialist Program is the premier opportunity for leaders in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) to enact meaningful and sustainable changes in the way that English is taught abroad. Through projects developed by U.S. Embassies in more than 80 countries, EL specialists work directly with local teacher trainers, educational leaders and ministry of education officials to exchange knowledge, build capacity and establish partnerships benefiting participants, institutions and communities in the United States and overseas.

For further information about the English Language Specialist Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit our, contact us by telephone at 202-6326452, or e-mail