SLI Faculty

Language Instructors

All SLI instructors are experienced specialists who are native speakers and/or hold terminal degrees in language teaching. They bring warmth, cultural awareness, and humor into their classrooms. SLI instructors base their teaching methods on the latest research in language teaching and learning.

María C. Calvo Vazquez, Ph.D.

María C. Calvo Vazquez, Ph.D., Spanish Instructor

Maria has over 27 years teaching experience. She received her Master in Higher Education and Doctorate in Pedagogical Sciences from Universidad Camilo Cienfuegos in Matanzas, Cuba, where she gained in-depth knowledge of evidence-based language instruction theory and practice, as well as extensive experience teaching Spanish as a second language to international students from numerous countries. She would eventually become Chair of the Spanish Department at that same institution, in addition to serving on various academic boards, and receiving numerous awards for her research and service. Maria joined the SLI team in the Summer of 2016.

Ana Paula Fabian Freire, M.A.

Ana Paula Fabian Freire, M.A., Portuguese Instructor

Ana Paula has a M.A. in Linguistics from Florida International University and a B.S. in Biology from Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil. She has experience in teaching business-Portuguese to executives, Portuguese as a foreign and heritage language, Brazilian literature, English linguistics, and works as a translator/interpreter. She is also a member and Secretary of the American Organization of Teachers of Portuguese (AOTP). Additionally, she teaches Portuguese to Middle School children, and studies the acquisition of language in bilingual toddlers. Ana Paula is passionate about studying and teaching languages, bilingualism, and language acquisition; in addition to her native Portuguese, she speaks English and Spanish, and is currently studying Italian. She has been teaching at SLI since 2014.

Abeer Jadallah, M.A.

Abeer Jadallah, M.A., Arabic Instructor

A native Arabic speaker, Abeer possesses 27 years diverse teaching experience, including Arabic language, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), History and Social Studies. She obtained her B.A. in Political Science and her Master of Arts in History from Youngstown State University in Ohio. Additionally, she has received training in Berlitz method of language instruction. Besides teaching Arabic at SLI since the summer of 2016, Abeer has taught for 8 years at the English Language Institute at FIU, and serves as Social Studies Department Chair at Doctors Charter School of Miami Shores.

Ilham Mendjeli Lakehal, M.A.

Ilham Mendjeli Lakehal, M.A., French Instructor

A French instructor with FIU’s Department of Modern Languages since 2008, Madame Lakehal joined the Strategic Language Institute team in the fall of 2017. She completed her dissertation in French Linguistics and the Teaching of French as a Foreign Language at the University of Rouen, Mont Saint Aignan, in 2012. From 2007 to 2010, she served as a Postdoctoral Follow in Arts & Sciences at the University of Paul Verlaine in Metz, and the University of Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne, in France. Madame Lakehal holds a Master of Arts in Education with a focus on instructional technology from American Intercontinental University, as well as a Certificate in Language Proficiency Assessment from the Lingua School and a Certificate in French Teaching from Inlingua Swiss Language Institute.

Marcelo Lee, M.A.

Marcelo Lee, M.A., Portuguese and English Instructor

Marcelo got his B.A. In Portuguese, minor in Spanish, and has a M.A. In Linguistics from Florida International University. Additionally, he is a certified Portuguese translator and court interpreter. His teaching philosophy is a task-based approach, where language is a tool to accomplish such tasks. His results-driven instruction has helped a visiting professor with no knowledge of English learn the language within 6 months and be able to do a presentation on Quantum Mechanics; another student, after completing 4 modules, presented his final project at a conference in Brazil; and, with the help of other instructors, he helped a Diplomat with no prior knowledge of Portuguese to become fluent and pass a State Department exam within 3 months. Marcelo is fluent in English and Portuguese, with passive knowledge of Spanish and French. He has been teaching at SLI since 2014.

Lucia Wenceslau dos Santos, M.A.

Lucia Wenceslau dos Santos, M.A., Portuguese Instructor

Lucia earned a Bachelors in Spanish from Universidade Metodista de São Paulo, and her Masters in Psychopedagogy from Universidade Gama Filho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She has extensive teaching experience, including in a literacy project run by the state government of São Paulo, in the Cultural Center for Language Studies in Coral Gables, and with various corporate clients. Additionally, Lucia is an experienced English/Spanish translator and simultaneous interpreter, as well as copywriter and editor. She is an active member of American Organization of Teachers of Portuguese (AOTP), and volunteers with Fundação Vamos Falar Português. Lucia has been with SLI since Fall 2015.

Zhang Xia, M.A.

Zhang Xia, M.A., Mandarin Instructor

Zhang Xia teaches Business Chinese at SLI. In addition to Mandarin, she is also fluent in dialects from Shandong and Chongqing. She earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees at Chongqing University. As part of an exchange during her graduate program, she conducted cultural information events for the Year of China in Italy. Ms. Zhang started the Chinese program at St. Brendan High School in 2013 where she currently teaches four levels of Chinese. She has been teaching at SLI since Fall 2015.