Paul Aoki, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Paul Aoki is a native of Seattle and is Director of the University of Washington Language Learning Center which works collaboratively with more than fifty language programs that are offered at the UW. His PhD is in theoretical linguistics and has been able to study a half-dozen languages from around the world including German, Japanese, French, and Russian. Before coming to work at the UW in 1988, he worked for the federal government on a variety of joint agency projects focused on language pedagogy, assessment, maintenance, and technology. Over the past 25 years at the UW, he has been Principal Investigator on over a dozen grants and contracts ranging from Bangla to Farsi to Russian totaling over $1.5M. He considers himself very fortunate to work with an exceptionally talented and collaborative team of experts for the third summer Startalk Russian programs for teachers and students at the UW.

Michele Aoki, Ph.D.

Startalk Program Consultant on Integration and Innovation

Dr. Michele Anciaux Aoki earned her Ph.D. in Slavic Linguistics from the University of Washington and taught Russian there for a number of years. Since the age of 16, Michele had traveled and lived extensively in former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Soviet Union. She spent a year as a Fulbright English lecturer in Iași, Romania, and later worked as US State Dept. Exhibit Guide in Romania. From 2008 until 2014, she served as World Languages Program Supervisor at the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, where she developed the World Languages Competency-Based Credit testing program and laid the foundation for the State Seal of Biliteracy. From 2014-2019, Michele served as International Education Administrator for Seattle Public Schools, where she was responsible for developing and supporting the ten international schools in the district and their K-12 Dual Language Immersion programs. In 2011, Michele was the first Program Director for the UW Russian STARTALK Teacher and Student Programs and she continues to consult with the program. Since retiring from Seattle Public Schools in 2019, Michele has been active with the Washington Association for Language Teaching (WAFLT) Testing Team to support testing of less commonly taught/tested languages. She also serves on the advisory board of the Global Seal of Biliteracy and in 2020 joined the board of the American Romanian Cultural Society.

Angelina McMillan-Major

Program Director

Angelina McMillan-Major is currently a graduate student in the University of Washington's Department of Linguistics. Her research focus is in computational linguistics, and she is particularly interested in developing technical tools for low-resource language documentation and revitalization. She is fluent in French, and has studied Japanese, Russian, Lenape (a Native American language spoken in the Philadelphia area), and Kazakh grammar. Angie has been a part of the STARTALK team since 2015. She greatly enjoys supporting young adults in their language learning and working with the fantastic program instructors and staff.

Bridget Yaden, Ph.D.

Teacher Program Lead Instructor

Dr. Bridget Yaden, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Director of the Language Resource Center at Pacific Lutheran University, has worked with the Seattle STARTALK grant for the past five years to offer PLU’s World Language Methods course to Chinese and Arabic teachers in the STARTALK Cohort for Alternative Route Certification. She regularly coaches and mentors pre-service teachers during the school year. In 2011, 2012, and 2015 she was the Lead Instructor for the UW Russian STARTALK Teacher Program. In 2013 and 2014, Dr. Yaden participated as a guest lecturer for the professional development activities for the Teacher Program. Although Dr. Yaden’s primary teaching language is Spanish, she has also studied Russian. Her PhD is in Linguistics from the University of Washington. She has been actively involved in professional organizations (WAFLT, ACTFL, IALLT, and others) and is passionate about teacher professional development

Svetlana Abramova, Ph.D.

Russian Student Program Lead Instructor

A native speaker of Russian Svetlana Abramova received her Ph.D. in Russian Language and Methodology from the Moscow State Pedagogical University. She is an experienced teacher, who has taught Russian to both native and non-native Russian students in Russia and the USA. For more than ten years she has worked as a teacher with high school students specializing in physics and mathematics, which sets high requirements on students’ competence in wide range of social registers of Russian, including the academic style. Her teaching practice, as well as her research interests, are specifically oriented to learner-centered pedagogical techniques, such as research projects in Russian language, which are the main subject of her Ph.D. thesis and a monograph, published by the major Russian educational publishing house “Prosveshchenie”. Constantly interested in her professional development, she has been participating in many conferences, seminars, and trainings. In 2011, Svetlana had a unique opportunity of becoming a student in the STARTALK Teacher Program, “Preparing Russian Teachers for the 21st Century” at the University of Washington. This program gave her a chance to apply her teaching experience, as she successfully taught most of the STARTALK Student Program lessons related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). In 2012-2016, she was the Lead Instructor of the STARTALK Student Program, which she almost single-handedly redesigned to focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and Russian culture.

Eduardo Viana da Silva, Ph.D.

Portuguese Student Program Lead Instructor

Eduardo Viana da Silva received his Ph.D. in Luso-Brazilian Literature with an emphasis in Applied Linguistics from University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He holds an interdisciplinary degree in teaching “Certificate in College and University Teaching” from UCSB, a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) graduate certificate from Brigham Young University (BYU) and an M.A. in Luso-Brazilian literature, also from BYU. Eduardo Viana da Silva is a certified Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) tester in Portuguese from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Before coming to University of Washington, Eduardo has taught language courses, Luso-Brazilian literature, and topics on Brazilian culture at UCSB, BYU, University of Utah, and the Salt Lake Community College. He also taught English as a Second Language in a private school (ILAC) in Vancouver, Canada, between 2007 and 2010.

His main areas of interest are Luso-Brazilian literature and culture, applied linguistics and curriculum development with a focus on culture and task-based language teaching (TBLT). He is currently working on a research project with a colleague on the implementation of task-based language assessment in language classes. Other areas of interest include teaching languages for special purposes, the use of technology in the classroom, and human rights.