CWLP Fellows

The California world language project (CWLP) is a collaborative, statewide network that sponsors year-round professional development programs for world languages educators intended to strengthen the teaching of languages and cultures in California. The project aims to involve every language teacher in supportive professional learning communities that foster excellence in language teaching, deepen content knowledge and pedagogical skills, and provide leadership development opportunities. CWLP continuously advocates for the retention, expansion and articulation of world language programs across all language levels, especially in the critical languages and cultures deemed to be essential for California students to contribute to and successfully interact in our linguistically and culturally diverse society.

The SAILN project offers year around Standard-based professional development (Strands A – D, Foundational to Leadership Workshops) opportunities for all language teachers including k- 16 public school teachers, heritage/community school teachers, after school program teachers, etc. to further develop their instructional teaching competencies. Furthermore, these professional development programs enable teachers to take on leadership roles in the classroom as well as at their school and at the district level. Upon completion of 120 hours of professional development in the SAILN Project Strands, teachers become CWLP Fellows, which empowers them to become SAILN Project interns, trainers, and future state level advocates.

Fellows since 2019

Click on a name to view more.

Alaa Arabic FellowDr. Alaa Gado Kana has been working with San Diego State University Research Foundation - LARC teaching Arabic MSA and Iraqi dialect since 2009. He participated in STARTALK summer teacher training program for years 2017 and 2018. Dr. Kana attended all the professional development workshops of SAILN (Southern Area International Language Network). In addition, Dr. Kana is an Arabic Professor at Grossmont-Cuyamaca College in world language department. He is also a certified ACTFL OPI tester and ACTFL WPT rater of Arabic from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Throughout his career, he taught at several universities in Iraq, Jordan, and the United States. Dr. Kana is also the author of five books and he published many research articles. For more information please view his website:

anna photoI am originally from Russia (Siberia), and I grew up in a family speaking two languages: Russian in school and Polish with my family. Studying languages was always my passion. I earned a dual degree in International business with Emphasis in Russian and Central Europe and Russian language from San Diego State University. I worked as an ESL Instructor at Pacific Southwest Community Development Corporation. I provided instruction to residents of low-income apartments, who wish to learn English or improve their English skills.

I teach students (7-12 Graders) about famous Russian movie directors and their films in my History of Russian Cinematography classes at San Diego Russian School .These classes illustrate and reiterate the topics students covered in classes of Russian History and Russian Literature. I started work at LARC in 2018. I had a chance to work as one of the instructors for intensive Russian language courses in the Project Global Officer program at LARC in 2013 and 2019. Also, I’ve taught Advanced Russian Immersion classes both online and in person. To make classes more entertaining and memorable, I often incorporate one of my biggest hobbies – cooking. Making pelmeni and pirozhki with students is always a lot of fun and a great way to get to know them.

Impact of attending SAILN Strands and workshop

SAILN Strands gave a great opportunity to learn from very experienced instructors, improve the teaching skills, and collaborate with colleagues.

Aurélia Viard pictureI am Aurélia Viard, I grew-up in France and moved to San Diego in August 2016. This is when I decided to become a French Teacher. I got my teaching credential and a Master in Inspired Teaching and Learning in 2020. And, I now teach French at Scripps Ranch High School. Right after I finished my Student Teaching training, I heard about SAILN, and how great you were, so I decided to investigate, and I saw that you were about to start some professional development strands, so I enrolled in my first strand. What a shift in my perception on what teaching is since I attended the SAILN Strands. I am so grateful I had the chance to attend the SAILN Strands right at the beginning of my teaching career. SAILN team, you put me on the path to Teacher proficiency, and gave me the tools and knowledge that I needed to also put my students on the path to proficiency. I learned how to bring authenticity into my classroom by using the IPA assessment model, and I now have my students engaged in the 3 modes of communication while exploring authentic resources. It’s fun for my students and for me. Now that you put me on the path, my students and I are moving step by step toward proficiency. A long way is ahead but I am now on the right path. I will never be thankful enough. SAILN team you rock!

Claire Arias-Kassir pictureHi! I am Claire Arias-Kassir and I have been teaching for 20 plus years in the same district in San Diego, CA. My teaching experience has been at the high school level teaching English, ELD, Spanish for Spanish Speakers and Spanish. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Literature from the University of California in San Diego and a Master’s of Arts, Educational Leadership K-12 from San Diego State University.

Currently, I am an English Language Instructional Resource Teacher in San Diego. CA. I have participated in the development of the California Spanish Assessment (CSA 2016-19) and English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC 2016-19). The State Board of Education to the World Languages (WL) Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC 2018-19) appointed me. I am a board member of the Foreign Language Council of San Diego. I love learning and make it a point to learn something new every day. It is my love for learning which led me to take part and complete the SAILN Strands. I have developed a deeper understanding of the World Languages Standards and World Languages Framework. The professors who teach the strands are very knowledgeable and supportive as we learned and planned lessons in the 3 modes of communication in service of communication and culture.

Claudia Mancilla Koch pictureClaudia is in her 15th year teaching. She is currently teaching 7th and 8th grade Spanish for Speakers. Claudia has taught K, 1, 2 and New Arrival Center (grades 6-12). As a teacher of Spanish, I have gained knowledge of the new World Language standards and how to implement them in my teaching. Taking the SAILN strands has given me the opportunity to meet and network with other World Language professionals. Through the strands I have also gained the knowledge to be a materials reviewer for possible state adopted WL materials.
Cristal PictureCristal Herrera has been a K-8 teacher since 2001. In 2000, she graduated from U.C. Davis with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. She taught at San Diego Unified from 2001-2010 in the Logan Heights neighborhood focusing on providing English language development support to her students. In 2010, Cristal was hired as a Spanish Immersion teacher at Riverview Elementary in Lakeside. During this time she pursued her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership with an Emphasis in Technology, along with a Preliminary Administrative Services Credential, through San Diego State University. Cristal is now a Spanish Immersion and ELD teacher at Tierra del Sol Middle School. Cristal became a CWLP fellow in the Spring of 2020.
Devia PantMy name is Devia Pant and I am an ELA Online tutor since more than a decade. I have students all across Irvine, the rest of the country and abroad. I was born in New Delhi, India and moved to the US in 2002. After moving across the length and the breadth of this amazing country, I now live in Irvine, CA with my husband and two sons. I am blessed to have a career spanning many states and a few countries, all from the comfortable confines of my home. I enjoy teaching because as educators we are able to, in our own humble way, mold the future of humanity. The SAILN strands have helped me as a professional since they have given me a much valued structure towards lesson planning and implementation. Being taught research based core elements by experienced and driven SAILN instructors, I have been able to focus on the fundamental and advanced level concepts which can strengthen a child’s Reading Comprehension, Writing, Vocabulary & Grammar not only in Hindi but also in ELA. I am privileged to be a part of such a dedicated and hardworking team of instructors and fellow students.

hamideh portaitMy name is Hamideh. I was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. I started to teach mathematics, physical education, and Farsi in my hometown when I was 18 years old. I immigrated to the U.S. in 2005 and have been living in San Diego since. After graduating from Palomar College in 2016, I began working at LARC through SDSU. Teaching has always been my passion; I was seeking the most effective way for instructing my students.

Impact of attending SAILN Strands and workshop

Participating in SAILN's, Strand A, B, and C, continuing education program, I improved my teaching proficiency significantly. I have learned to clarify organization, explanation, example guidance, and assessment on my curriculum. During the strands, I learned about the teaching standards and principles of teaching. I have been exposed to the best sources for teaching techniques which were a great opportunity for me to create the best activities. After completing the training programs, my curriculum now combines the latest research in literacy education with integrated social skills development and embedded professional learning. One of the most important advantages of these programs is that I have learned to use the most effective remote Learning Strategies to assist the learners successfully.

Now, I am starting each course fully prepared, instructing the learners, no matter where the class is held.

Hawazen imageHawazen Asaf, she was born and raised in Damascus. However, in 2013, due to the war, her family made the decision to relocate to San Diego. she graduated from Damascus University in Syria with a bachelor's degree in English literature. Her master's in languages from California University of San Diego was awarded to her in 2021. In addition to the Arabic Flagship Video Project workshop at The University of Texas and the Modified Oral Proficiency Interview certificate program at the American Council of Foreign Languages, she also participated in a number of workshops under the name Southern Area International Language Network (SAILN) including Strands A, B, and C. Hawazen has been a Modern Standard Arabic and Levantine

Language instructor at the Language Acquisition Center since 2018. She also tutor her students Arabic, Levantine, and Egyptian dialect in addition to her work with LARC. Her journey with Salin started in 2019, She selected the SAILN A, B and C strands in order to gain knowledge of strategies and activities to plan a reading unit for flexible learning environments (Face-2-Face, Hybrid, and/or Fully online), as well as to develop lesson plans incorporating the new California World Language Standards and the reviewed/learned strategies. Additionally, to develop cognitively stimulating, age- and culture-appropriate learning activities at all competence levels for each method of communication by learning how to find, choose, and apply real materials. She is so glad she got the opportunity to learn and improve her passion in teaching, and work with the most amazing instructors.

Irene Martinez photoIrene Martinez is a California State University San Marcos graduate. She studied abroad in Valencia, Spain, where she gained an appreciation for language acquisition. She has been a Spanish language teacher for over ten years. Irene enjoys traveling and sharing those experiences with her students.

Irene is enthusiastic about continually finding ways to promote language learning. She has participated in the SAILN (Southern Area International Language Network) professional development workshops. By attending these workshops, she has developed skills to create more effective activities in her classroom. The SAILN project has given Irene the opportunity to think critically about implementing interpersonal, interpretive and presentational activities to engage students.

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Originally from Mexico, Jaquelin has over 20 +years teaching experience in Spanish language and culture at the College and High School levels. While working in the doctoral program at UC, San Diego, she focused her research efforts on cultural studies and literary theory. She worked as Senior Spanish Linguist and Editor for a software language company in Belgium. Jaquelin is also a poet and one of the contributing authors of the Award Winning book, Déjame que te cuente. In addition, she has presented at national conferences and book festivals, and she is involved in a wide range of collaborations. Jaquelin is grateful to the SAILN team for providing outstanding professional development opportunities.

Impact of SAILN Strands on my teaching

The supportive SAILN team provided Jaquelin with the tools and resources to further develop her pedagogical skills to better serve her students through interactive, authentic and meaningful learning experiences. Jaquelin is truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn under such inspirational educators.

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I was born and raised in San Diego, California and I earned my MA in French and Francophone studies in the spring of 2020. I am currently finishing an MA in Italian Studies with a focus on Intercomprehension and Translation. I have taught Portuguese, Italian, French, Spanish, and ESL at different institutions in southern California. I have a passion for learning foreign languages, cultures, and gastronomy.

Impact of SAILN Strands on my teaching

As a recent university graduate, I was eager to continue learning and improving my teaching skills. I had the opportunity to participate in the Startalk program in the summer of 2019 which was a quick and informative program that sparked my interest to continue learning from the faculty members from SAILN. After participating in this program, I was encouraged to participate in Strands A, B, and C to continue my learning experience. The SAILN strands have been beneficial in teaching me the basic and advanced principles that every instructor whether K-12 or at the College/University level should know. I have learned how to develop a syllabus and interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational assessments that reflect the class content, and objectives while being student-centered. I have been able to successfully pass interviews by demonstrating all the principles that the SAILN strands have thought me as well as teaching colleagues how to organize their courses, and assessments and how to prepare their syllabus using backward design. Lastly, I had the opportunity to present and be part of the organizing team for SAILN’s 2022 online symposium which allowed me to present my own ideas on teaching diversity and inclusion in the classroom.

From a very young age, language learning was an endeavor that was expected in my family. I had Austrian and French grandparents. My parents grew up in Montreal. Everyone spoke at least two languages, sometimes three.

Impact the SAILN strands had on my teaching

I’ve now been teaching world languages for close to fourteen years. It’s not always easy convincing our students that they will be well served learning a language other than English. As a teacher, I feel like SAILN has given me practical skills in the classroom which ultimately keep my students engaged. I really appreciate all the mentoring I’ve had in these three strands. The opportunity to work with like minded practitioners keeps me motivated to keep learning how to engage my students to become active language learners.

mariana imageMariana Apalategui 20+ years teaching experience in Spanish and English as a Second Language. Mariana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from San Diego State University and a Master’s of Art in Spanish Linguistics from the San Diego State University. During her graduate course work, she traveled to Spain, where she taught ESL and took graduate courses in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language at the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares. She currently teaches Spanish at Point Loma Nazarene University in Point Loma, CA.

I have lived most of my life in San Diego. I earned my BA and completed my teaching credentials at San Diego State. My first job was as a teacher’s aid when I was 18, and I have been working in the education field ever since. I currently work at University City High School; I have been teaching at UC for the past 17 years. When I am not teaching or planning lessons, I like to spend time outdoors. I enjoy hiking and going on road trips. Most of all, I enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Impact of SAILN Strands on my teaching

SAILN Strands have helped me keep up-to-date with technology tools and how to utilize them in the classroom. I have also been able to sharpen my lessons by incorporating different teaching strategies.

Olga Sukhanova is an experienced language instructor with Master’s degrees in Applied Linguistics and English. Olga’s areas of expertise include language teaching, course material development, and online teaching. Her teaching philosophy consists mainly of three components. She places importance on student motivation, regards professional development as the cornerstone of the teaching profession, and believes in innovation. Becoming a SAILN Fellow is Olga’s latest accomplishment in the professional development area. She chose the SAILN Strands as a great opportunity to learn from the amazing instructors and presenters, sharpen the teaching skills, and collaborate with colleagues to further improve the language teaching field.
Rana Al-Azzeh photoRana Al-Azzeh grew up in Jordan where she received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Jordan. Upon moving to the United States, she became interested in the Montessori methodology, so she enrolled in the AMI certification program and successfully completed the AMI Primary training from MISD (Montessori Institute of San Diego) in 2014. After that, she completed the master’s degree requirements from Loyola University Maryland and received a Master of Education Degree (M.Ed.). She started working at Kinderhouse Montessori school teaching in primary and lower elementary classes, where she worked for four years before moving to Le Port Montessori school where she taught for three years working with the same age group. Then she moved to Cuyamaca college to work with an older age group. She chose the SAILN strands to learn from distinguished and experienced presenters, to strengthen her teaching skills, and to improve the language teaching field. The strands helped her to better understand the ACTFL standards, the California world language standards, and to develop and assess the different modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational). It also helped her better understand different concepts like the backward design. Implementing and integrating the technology in the reading unit was one of the important things that she implemented in her classroom. She was really delighted to have this opportunity to work with all the amazing instructors and colleagues to further improve and develop her skills in the teaching field.
Robin Newsom-WuertzFounder of Creative ASL Teaching blog and an #aslteacherchat moderator has 20+ years teaching experience in ASL. Robin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Deaf Studies from California State University Northridge and a Master’s of Science in School Counseling from the University of LaVerne. She teaches ASL and Physical Education at Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA. Robin is a workshop presenter in ASL curriculum, standards, and second language acquisition. Robin also works as a consultant to help other schools in her area establish and maintain thriving ASL programs. She is a new teacher mentor, a Fellow in the California World Language Project, and the world language department chair at her school site. Her passion is to support ASL teachers in their journey to become creative innovators and leaders in the field of World Language instruction.
I am originally from Tokyo, Japan, and graduated with a Master's degree in Communication Studies from San Diego State University. I embarked on my teaching career in 2019, and since then, I have taught college learners and military personnel. My participation in the Southern Area International Language Network (SAILN) workshop project was a transformative experience, broadening my perspective on language education. I now focus on not only traditional language instruction but also practical applications, motivating my students to visualize themselves using Japanese in real-life scenarios through interpersonal, presentational, and interpretive modes of communication. As a fledgling scholar in Communication Studies and a Japanese instructor, I'm driven by my passion to challenge traditional normativity within Japanese society and Japanese language education. I aim to create an inclusive and diverse classroom environment where my students can thrive, feel safe, and find comfort in their language-learning journey.
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I’m Shereen Hijazi, a Palestinian; where I grew up in Jordan, and then moved to the United States in 2004. My journey in teaching started when I was an undergrad student at SDSU in 2009, I started as a teacher assistant and I fell in love with teaching Arabic. Right now I teach Arabic (MSA & Levantine) at LARC at SDSU. Teaching languages is not just a job! It is my passion and I enjoy every moment when I’m in the classroom. I have always believed that language teachers are ambassadors of their countries and their culture, and they are the bridge that connects two worlds.

Impact the SAILN strands had on my teaching

SAILN Strands have expanded my teaching horizon on so many levels. I have improved all my lessons, where I developed new techniques to prepare them, I learned how to use technology and implement it throughout different activities to keep the students engaged. Each strand exposed me to a different learning experience and it was a great opportunity to learn about the three modes of communications and how to develop activities for each one and how to assess the activities. Also, I learned how to create a reading unit, the process and the steps of creating it. Lastly, the importance of authentic material and how to use it as a tool for the interruptive mode of communication.

I have been teaching Spanish for the last 20+ years. I graduated with a Bachelors in Spanish from San Diego State University and with a Master’s in Spanish Literature and Culture from the University of California Santa Barbara. I currently work in a local High School where I teach Spanish to 9th -12th graders. In my spare time, I like traveling and spending time with my family and friends.

Impact of SAILN Strands on my teaching

The SAILN Strands have helped me strengthen my teaching strategies, lessons and the use of technology.


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