Faculty and Staff

ALI Director

Jim Valentine

Jim Valentine, director of the American Language Institute, received his doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles specializing in Psychological Studies in Education with a cognate in TESL/Applied Linguistics. He also holds a B.A. in French and Spanish from Dartmouth College. For seven years prior to his arrival at the University of Southern California, he served as language coordinator for the international business programs at the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management. His principal applied research interests are human motivation, the instructional design of language programs, organizational psychology, and educational anthropology.

ALI Faculty

Lucienne Aarsen

LUCIENNE AARSEN, MA English Teaching, BA International Relations. Lucienne Aarsen has extensive experience in teaching English in diverse, cultural, academic and business environments internationally and nationally.  Overseas, she taught in Indonesia, Israel, and London, where she earned her MA in English Teaching at the University of London Institute of Education. Locally, she has taught Business English and English for Academic Purposes at UCLA and USC.Currently, she is the ITA Program Coordinator at USC providing pedagogical training to international PhD candidates who are assigned TA duties.  In addition to language instruction in the classroom, her experience includes training in the workplace. She has worked for private and government sectors, customizing lessons, material, and activities based on trainee and company needs. She is very passionate about fostering educational exchanges with people from various cultures, and enjoys picking up languages in the process. She speaks Dutch and Italian and has studied French, Russian, and Spanish. Her approach to teaching is to actively engage students in topics related to their professional, academic, and social interests in order to help students gain confidence in their English language skills.

Reka Clausen

Reka Clausen is an Assistant Professor of English as a Second Language and received her MA in TESOL from California State University, Los Angeles. Since joining the ALI faculty in 2002, she has taught both writing and oral skills courses, though her passion lies primarily in teaching oral skills courses for international teaching assistants (ITAs), combining language instruction with teacher training. She has also served as assistant coordinator of the ITA Summer Institute, co-chair of the CATESOL Regional Conference at USC, and liaison between the Viterbi School of Engineering Writing Program and the ALI.  Prior to joining the ALI faculty, she taught ESL at UCLA Extension, Santa Monica College, and in Bologna, Italy, where she lived for nine years. She is fluent in Italian and Farsi and has studied French, Spanish and Portuguese, as learning foreign languages and traveling overseas have always been a passion.

Barry Griner

Barry Griner is a Master Lecturer and is a contributing author of Teaching Pronunciation: A Course Book and Reference Guide (2nd ed, Cambridge University Press, 2010). He received a BS in Mathematics Education before spending ten years teaching English in Hiroshima, Japan (seven as Head Teacher). After returning to the States, he got an MA in Applied Linguistics and TESL at UCLA. He also did several years of study in the Applied Linguistics PhD program there, doing research on the morphophonotactics of Japanese and on intonational phonology. More recently, he spent two years teaching writing at the Centre for English Language Communication, National University of Singapore. Barry’s 28 years of teaching experience also includes program evaluation/development and teacher training as an Academic Specialist for the US State Department in Uzbekistan and Armenia.

Richard Jones

Richard Jones is a Lecturer of English as a Second Language at the American Language Institute at USC. He earned his M.Ed. in TESOL from Temple University and his M.A. in East Asian Studies from UCLA. Richard taught academic and business English for ten years in Japan, working in both Tokyo and Osaka. He is also an editor who has revised English editions of books in fields ranging from Anthropology to Psychology. Richard has helped researchers in China, Korea, and Japan prepare manuscripts for publication in American and European journals. When not teaching or editing, Richard spends his time reading, playing music, and searching out interesting restaurants and new recipes.

Nina Kang

Nina Kang is a Senior Lecturer in Academic and Research Writing focused on clear, grammatical form and analytical thinking & synthesizing of ideas. She has enjoyed teaching all over the world including Uganda, Uzbekistan, China, Korea, Bulgaria, and Serbia & Montenegro. As an English Language Fellow in Eastern Europe, she developed a great interest in the use of cultural rhetoric in writing and information literacy skills. As a trained librarian, she’s also interested in providing information-rich contexts for students to develop their critical thinking and writing skills. She has presented at numerous international conferences and has been involved in teacher training and EOP curriculum development as and English Language Specialist through the US Department of State. Her areas of interest include intercultural writing and issues of academic integrity, authentic assessments via use of portfolios & other project-based medium, academic help-seeking skills of international students, technology-enhanced teaching & learning, and EAP/EOP curriculum development.

Juli Kirkpatrick

Juli Kirkpatrick is the Testing Co-Coordinator of the USC American Language Institute.  She earned her BA in International Relations from Stanford University and her MA in TESOL from United States International University in San Diego.  She has taught English in Japan and Turkey as well as at San Diego State and UCLA Extension.  She specializes in teaching academic writing and accent reduction.  She is also an editor who helps students prepare papers for publication. When not teaching, she enjoys traveling, learning foreign languages and doing  Middle Eastern dancing.

Olivia Martinez

Olivia Martinez obtained her B.A. and graduate degrees from UCLA. Her academic interests include linguistics, lexicography, code-switching, translation/interpretation, TESL, as well as issues related to generation 1.5 English speakers. Her experience includes work in community based ESL programs, as well as English literacy programs in the Los Angeles area, as well as working as a lecturer at UCI and UCLA. Most of her research has focused on Valley Zapotec, an indigenous language from Mexico, her native country. She also loves to read and dance, though not at the same time.

Mary Ann Murphy

Mary Ann Murphy has a Bachelor’s degree in French and History from the University of Tennessee, and a Master’s degree from UCLA in Teaching English as a Second Language. She has had the honor of serving as Program Chair for the CATESOL Regional Conference at USC. She has also taught English as a Second Language for UCLA and other universities, and has extensive experience in curriculum and materials development.

James Polk

James Polk, Associate Professor of English (teaching), holds an MA and a PhD (magna cum laude) in philosophy from the Freie Universität Berlin. He completed his post-doctoral teaching credentials with distinction in the UK, obtaining a diploma from the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate/Royal Society of Arts. A former examiner for Cambridge Assessments and IELTS, Polk has lived and worked for various lengths of time in Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East.

Polk is the author of five books and numerous articles and translations in a wide range of disciplines. His current research interests include pragmatics in intercultural communication and global governance institutions.

Eric H. Roth

Eric Roth teaches students the pleasures and perils of academic writing and public speaking. He has taught numerous English and writing courses at USC since 2003. A former journalist and Congressional aide, Roth also directed the CES Adult Education Center from 1996-1999.  Roth received his MA in Media Studies from The New School University, and his B.A. in philosophy from Wabash College. He has taught in Spain, France, and Vietnam, regularly presented at professional (TESOL, CATESOL) conventions, and traveled to over 40 countries. Roth also co-authored the fluency-focused Compelling Conversations series and served on the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant national selection committee (2015-2017).

Kimberley Briesch Sumner

Kimberley Briesch Sumner is a Senior Lecturer of English as a Second Language at USC and has always had an affinity for learning languages and visiting cultures around the world. Originally from Oklahoma, she obtained her Bachelor’s degrees in both French and psychology from the University of Oklahoma but moved to Los Angeles to pursue her graduate studies in the department of Applied Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) at UCLA. Since obtaining her Master’s degree from UCLA her focus has been on teaching and service. She has served on the CATESOL Board of Directors for over 8 years and has recently completed a 3-year term as President of this bi-state organization which helps ESL teaching professionals network and develop teaching skills.

Anastassia Tzoytzoyrakos

Anastassia is full-time faculty with the USC American Language Institute and Adjunct Assistant Professor with Rossier School of Education where she has been developing and teaching courses for the award-winning MAT-TESOL online program.  Anastassia holds a M.A. in Applied Linguistics from Biola University and a B.A. in Economics from University of California, Irvine. Prior to her employment with USC, she served as ESL Program Director with Bethesda Christian University and BIOLA University (summer program). She has also worked with several publishers including Oxford University Press, Pearson Education, and Houghton-Mifflin developing ESL textbooks.  Anastassia’s greatest love is her family. Her three boys are active in theater, love music, and aspire to have a career in the arts.

ALI Staff

Jim Cunningham

Jim Cunningham, the ALI Program Manager, directs and coordinates the administrative aspects of the American Language Institute. He also oversees the development of ALI’s web applications. Mr. Cunningham holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from UCLA, and a Master’s degree in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Seminary. He enjoys being a husband to his wife and a father of 3 sons. Previously, Jim traveled extensively in Asia and lived in Thailand for several years. He loves sports, fishing, and kayaking.

Thuy Pham

Thuy Pham is the ALI Student Advisor. Thuy is the point person for students who have questions about ALI classes or their ALI requirement.  She provides friendly and helpful service to students who need to register for classes or obtain “D” clearances. She also oversees the administrative aspects of the ALI International Teaching Assistant (ITA) program.

Shelly Snellman

Shelly Snellman facilitates office, outreach, and front desk operations. She is also the head of all ALI’s English-Learning Resource Programs (Conversation Groups, Book Club, Writing Labs, One-on-One Conversation Partner), ensuring their quality and sustainability for students who want extra English-speaking practice. Shelly holds a B.A. from USC’s School of Dramatic Arts (with a minor in Business Administration), as well as two USC Masters degrees – Master of Liberal Studies and M.S. in Digital Social Media.