Applied Linguistics & Language Education (ALLE) Program Welcome Two New Faculty

The Program in Applied Linguistics and Language Education at the University of Maryland is proud to welcome two new outstanding scholars to its faculty beginning fall, 2022 – Nihat Polat and Laura Mahalingappa.


Dr. Nihat Polat, professor of Applied Linguistics and Language Education and Chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership (TLPL), comes to the University of Maryland from Texas State University, where he served as professor and chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education. He brings with him over 15 years of leadership experience at various institutions, including associate dean for graduate studies and research at Duquesne University’s School of Education, where he also served as the director of the Canevin Center for Educational Transformation and Social Justice.

“I’m thrilled to join the College of Education as the chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership,” said Polat. “It’s an honor to be part of a community committed to scholarship, innovative programs, and strategic priorities, and I am eager to work with colleagues, students and alumni to strengthen and elevate the work we do to address so many of today’s hardest challenges.”

Polat's research is situated at the intersection of applied linguistics, teacher education, and educational psychology. He has authored and co-authored over 40 peer-reviewed publications, including four books. Many of his works have been published in top-tier journals including Teachers College Records, Applied Linguistics, Language Learning and Technology, TESOL Quarterly, The Modern Language Journal, and The Journal of Educational Research. He has received several institutional and foundation grants, while also receiving five institutional research awards. Just recently, he received the 2022 Leadership through Research Award from the Second Language Research SIG of the American Educational Research Association. He has served as chair of the Applied Linguistics Intersection at TESOL in 2015 and an editorial board member of several journals, including the Journal of Educational Research and TESOL Quarterly.

A first-generation college graduate, Polat holds a BA in English language teaching from Marmara University (Turkey), an MA  in English from Georgian Technical University, and a PhD  in Applied Linguistics and Foreign Language Education from the University of Texas at Austin.

Laura Mahalingappa

Dr. Laura Mahalingappa, associate professor of Applied Linguistics and Language Education, is joining the University of Maryland from Texas State University, where she was an associate professor of ESL Education. Previously, she was associate professor and director of the ESL/TESOL MS Ed Program at Duquesne University for five years, where she worked on program evaluation and accreditation efforts in addition to mentoring undergraduate and graduate students from diverse backgrounds.  

Dr. Mahalingappa’s scholarship focuses broadly on the language and education of marginalized learners, incorporating sociolinguistic and critical linguistic and pedagogical perspectives into issues related to teacher preparation to support linguistically and culturally diverse learners and first and multilingual language acquisition. She recently published Supporting Muslim students: A guide to understanding the diverse issues of today’s classroom and an edited volume on international English teacher education, Preparation of Teachers of English as an Additional Language (EAL) around the World: Research, Policy, Curriculum, and Practice.  Dr. Mahalingappa’s current work pertains to critical language pedagogies and linguistically responsive instruction in both PK-12 and post-secondary educational contexts, examining teachers’ beliefs, ideologies, and practices in diverse classrooms, ways to prepare teachers to meet the needs of marginalized students, and policies and practices in teacher education programs. She recently received the 2022 Presidential Distinction Award in Scholarly/Creative Activities at Texas State University, College of Education and previously received the 2015 Creative Teaching Award and the 2014 School of Education Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching at Duquesne University.

Dr. Mahalingappa holds a BA in International Studies and Economics from American University, and an MA and PhD in Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin.