The Multilingual Learning Center is a collaboration between the Northeastern Illinois University faculty and staff, as well as alumni from the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) graduate program.

Founder and Language Center Director

Jeanine Ntihirageza

Jeanine Ntihirageza is an Associate Professor at Northeastern Illinois University and chair of the Departments of Anthropology, English Language Program (ELP), Philosophy and TESOL. Before that she coordinated the ELP for six years. Dr. Ntihirageza holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Chicago. While on a Fulbright Scholarship, she obtained an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Dr. Ntihirageza’s research interests are linguistics, second language acquisition, refugee studies and African studies. Her other languages are Kirundi and French.

Expert Consultants

Denise Cloonan

Denise Cloonan Cortez de Andersen is a Professor of Spanish and the Chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Northeastern Illinois University. Dr. Cloonan, who has a Ph.D. in Linguistics, is the Editorial Review Board Member of The Linguistics Journal. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in second language pedagogy, contact language phenomena, intercultural communication, fundamentals of translation, phonetics and phonology and the dialectology of the Spanish language. She is the author of “Contornos del Habla: fonología y fonética del español” (Yale University Press, 2009) and contributing author of Native Speaker Ancillary to “¡Anda!, Curso Intermedio” (Pearson, 2010). Dr. Cloonan was also the recipient of the 2010 Audrey Reynolds Distinguished Teaching Award. Her other language is Spanish.

Theodora Helena Bofman

Theodora Bofman is Professor Emerita in TESOL from Northeastern Illinois University. She has a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Michigan and has been teaching ESL and training language teachers since 1973. Bofman developed and ran Northeastern’s TESL practicum and supervised the ESL clinical experience for many years. She has received teaching awards from Illinois TESOL/BE, Literacy Works and Northeastern Illinois University. She has studied Thai, Burmese, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Yiddish, German and Spanish.

Selina L.P. Mushi

Selina Mushi is an Associate Professor of Teacher Education at Northeastern Illinois University. She earned a Ph.D. (curriculum and instruction) from the University of Toronto, with a focus on Second Language Learning and Assessment. She has 34 years of teaching experience in primary schools and universities, and more than 18 years of experience incorporating early brain development research in teaching language development and other courses in Early Childhood Education. Kiswahili is one of her native languages.

Gina Gamboa

Gina Gamboa is Director of Bilingual Programs at the Northeastern Illinois University Center for College Access and Success (CCAS). She has worked extensively developing projects with schools, districts and communities in academic support and services for bilingual learners from PK-16, family engagement and teacher professional development. Throughout her work, program design focuses on engaging arts and culture in biliteracy development.

Program Managers

Susan Pogash

Susan Pogash brings to her work in ESL an extensive background in business, especially in new products and services, advertising and marketing, communication, and program evaluation. She teaches Integrated ESL studies in the Chicago City Colleges. Pogash is a proud graduate of Northeastern Illinois University’s TESOL master’s program.

Gina Wells

Gina Wells is an instructor in the English Language Program and the Department of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at Northeastern Illinois University. A licensed music educator, Dr. Wells earned a Ph.D. in Professional Studies in Education from Capella University. She was a coordinator for the Northeastern Grow Your Own Teachers Program prior to completing an additional graduate degree—an M.A. in TESOL. Dr. Wells’ research interests are the role of music and musicality in second language acquisition, and the role of transformative learning in teacher education. Her other language is Swedish.


Toshikazu Foley (Lead Instructor, Mandarin Chinese)

Toshikazu Foley, born and raised in Taiwan, teaches Chinese and Chinese Culture at Northeastern Illinois University. He earned a Ph.D. in Biblical Translation (2008) and is a published author. He recently translated video footage of Asia's Utahime, Teresa Teng, from Chinese and Japanese into English. He is a native speaker of Chinese. In addition to English, he has scholarly proficiency in Japanese and classical Greek.

Sanaa Rahman (Lead Instructor, Arabic)

Sanaa Rahman is an Instructor of Arabic Language and Culture at Northeastern Illinois University and at Lake Forest College. In addition to teaching Arabic language, she also teaches courses on Arabic culture and film. In past years she has organized and led study abroad programs to Egypt and been the faculty advisor for the Middle Eastern Student Club at Northeastern Illinois University. Sanaa has a master's degree in Political Science and recently completed the coursework for a TESOL certification.

Dalal Al-Ajlouni (Teaching Assistant, Arabic)

Dalal Al-Ajlouni has a Bachelors Degree in English Literature from Yarmok University in Jordan and she has received an honors certificate from the university for her participation in Arabic literature works. She was an English teacher for elementary school in Jordan, and a teacher assistant in in Glen Grove Elementary School. She is now an Arabic teacher at Noon Academy in Schaumburg and a student at NEIU. Dalal speaks Arabic and English.

Solomon Dixon (Teaching Assistant, Mandarin Chinese)

Solomon Dixon was born in Pontiac, Michigan, but was raised in mainland China during the formative years of his life. He has a bachelor's degree in Biblical Theology from the Moody Bible Institute. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in TESOL at NEIU. He currently teaches ESL in Chicago's Chinatown neighborhood. He speaks Mandarin Chinese and English.

Program Coordination

Cassandra Martinez

Cassandra Martinez is a graduate of the TESOL master’s program at Northeastern. Recently, she was a TaLK Scholar in Jeonju, South Korea, where she taught elementary students English for 18 months. In addition to teaching, Cassandra has trained other teachers and has presented at the provincial orientation for incoming English teachers. Cassandra speaks English, Spanish and Korean.