Ellen Johnson Serafini

Ellen Johnson Serafini

Ellen Johnson Serafini

Associate Professor

Spanish: Instructed Second Language Learning; Learner Individual Differences; Task-based Language Teaching; Critical Language Pedagogy; Heritage Language Education; Bilingual Education.

Ellen Johnson Serafini is an Associate Professor of Spanish Applied Linguistics in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. Her research explores the dynamic interaction among various internal and external factors in different language learning settings including second language, heritage language, study abroad, dual immersion, community-based learning, and language for specific purposes contexts. She has published on the conceptualization and role of individual learner differences in instructed second language and immersion settings, critical language pedagogy in heritage contexts, task-based approaches to curricular design and instruction in specialized contexts, and the relative long-term effectiveness of different models of bilingual education for language minority learners and implications for educational equity.


Dr. Serafini teaches courses on Spanish linguistics, Spanish for heritage speakers, Spanish for specific purposes, and Spanish service learning at the undergraduate level and offers graduate courses in methods of second language teaching and curriculum design, task-based language teaching, and bilingual education in the Spanish-speaking world.


Selected Publications

Leeman, J. & Serafini, E. J. (Forthcoming). "It's not fair": Discourses of deficit, equity, and effort in mixed HL/L2 Spanish classes. Journal of Language, Identity & Education.

Serafini, E. J. (2020). Further exploring the dynamicity, situatedness, and emergence of the self: The key role of context. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 10(1), 133-157.

Serafini, E. J., Rozell, N. & Winsler, A. W. (2020). Academic and English language outcomes for DLLs in Miami as a function of school bilingual education model: The role of two-way immersion and home language support. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2019.1707477. 

Serafini, E. J. (2020). Exploring the dynamics of interlocutor IDs and language learner selves during a short-term experience abroad. In L. Gurzynski-Weiss (Ed.), Cross-theoretical explorations of interlocutors and their individual differences (pp. 209-243). John Benjamins (Language Learning & Language Teaching series).

Serafini, E. (2019). Further situating learner possible selves in context: A proposal to replicate Henry & Cliffordson (2013) & Lasagabaster (2016). Language Teaching.

Serafini, E. J., Rozell, N., & Winsler, A. (2018). Long-term outcomes of bilingual education models: What does the research tell us? Teachers’ Hub.

Sanz, C. & Serafini, E. J. (2018). La cognición y las lenguas no nativas: El papel de las diferencias individuales en el aprendizaje de lenguas extranjeras con especial atención a la memoria operativa. In E. Ortiz-Preuss & I. Finger (Eds.), A dinâmica do processamento bilíngue, (pp. 233-267). Pontes Editores.

Serafini, E. J. (2017). Exploring the dynamic long-term interaction between cognitive and psychosocial resources in adult second language development at varying proficiency. Modern Language Journal, 101(2), 369-390.

Serafini, E. J. & Sanz, C. (2016). Evidence for the decreasing impact of cognitive ability on second language development as proficiency increases. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 38, 607-646.

Leeman, J. & Serafini, E. J. (2016). Sociolinguistics in heritage language education: Promoting critical translingual competence. In Fairclough, M. & Beaudrie, S. (Eds.), Innovative Approaches in HL Pedagogy: From Research to Practice (pp. 56-79). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

Torres, J. & Serafini, E. J. (2016). Micro-evaluating learners' task-specific motivation in a task-based Business Spanish course. Hispania, 99, 289-304.

Serafini, E. J. & Torres, J. (2015). The utility of needs analysis for non-domain expert teachers in designing task-based Spanish for the Professions curricula. Foreign Language Annals, 48, 447-472.

Grey, S., Cox, J., Serafini, E. J., & Sanz, C. (2015). The role of individual differences in the study abroad context: Cognitive capacity and language development during short-term intensive language exposure. The Modern Language Journal, 99, 137-157.

Serafini, E. J., Lake, J., & Long, M. H. (2015). Needs analysis for specialized learner populations: Essential methodological improvements. English for Specific Purposes, 40, 11-26.



Ph.D., Spanish Linguistics, Georgetown University (2013)

M.S., Spanish Linguistics, Georgetown University (2010)

M.A., Hispanic Linguistics, University of Arizona (2006)

B.A., Spanish & English, University of Arkansas (2004) 

Recent Presentations

Critical Task-Based Language Teaching: Exploring the dynamic development of critical language awareness in service learning. Task-Based Language Teaching Biennial Conference, Ottawa, CA (Aug 19, 2019)

DLL outcomes vary by bilingual education model: Two-way immersion and home language support. With Adam Winsler & Nadine Rozell. Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), Baltimore, MD (March 21, 2019)

Discourses of equity, identity and belonging among students in mixed heritage/second language Spanish courses. With Jennifer Leeman. American Association for Applied Linguistics, Atlanta, GA (Mar 11, 2019)

Doing critical language pedagogy in the Spanish heritage language classroom: Objectives, tasks, and outcomes/Implementar la pedagogía lingüística crítica en el aula de español como lengua de herencia: Objetivos, tareas y resultados. DMV Heritage Language Communities Symposium, University of Maryland-College Park (April 21, 2018)

Exploring the dynamics of language learner selves and interlocutor characteristics during a short-term experience abroad. American Association for Applied Linguistics, Chicago, IL (Mar 27, 2018)

Engaging students through task-based language instruction. With Natalia Dolgova, Carrie Bonilla, Xi Chen, Raluca Romaniuc, & Helen Guglielmi. Innovations in Teaching and Learning Conference, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA (September 22, 2017)

Conceptualizing motivational selves in instructed heritage language contexts. Symposium on Spanish as a Heritage Language (SSHL), University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA (Feb 2017) 

'It's not fair': HL and L2 student perceptions of 'mixed' classes. With Jennifer Leeman. Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, Georgetown University, Washington, DC (Oct 7, 2016)

The long-term explanatory capacity of motivational constructs in instructed second language learning at varying proficiency. Second Language Research Forum, CUNY-Teacher's College, New York City, NY (Sept 23, 2016)

In the Media

Interview about second language acquisition and bilingualism with reporter Karen Finucan Clarkson at Washington Parent (September 2014).