Lia Kamhi-Stein

Charter College of Education
Division of Educational Foundation & Interdiv Studies
Office Location: KH C2056



Like many professionals born and raised in Expanding Circle (Kachru, 1992) environments, I studied English so that, as an adult, I would have access to a higher paying job. While my mother’s motivation for putting me in an EFL institute in Buenos Aires was instrumental because it was practical in nature, my own motivation for studying English was significantly more ambitious. At the age of 10, my parents took me to see the movie “The Sound of Music.” Something magical happened to me that day. When the movie ended, I left the theater dancing and singing in English, believing that I was or could become Julie Andrews even though I did not know a word of English. Right there and then, I fell in love with the English language and everything the language represented.

Excerpt from Kamhi-Stein, L. D. (2013). From “The Sound of Music” to “the sound of silence” and back: Language learning, teaching, and identity. In L. D. Kamhi-Stein (Ed.), Narrating their lives: Examining English language teachers’ professional identities within the classroom (pp. 18-26). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.

I was born and raised in Argentina, where I graduated from college with a degree as a Certified Public Translator. However, I did not find the profession fulfilling. Instead, what I loved doing was teaching. For this reason, I went back to school and graduated with English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher degree. I went on to teach EFL in a variety of universities and institutes in Argentina in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In the early 1980’s I was hired as an EFL teacher at the Instituto Cultural Argentino Norteamericano (ICANA), where I became Academic Secretary (an academic position). At the end of 1989, I married a U.S. citizen and moved to the U.S., where I obtained my MA in TESOL degree from California State University, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Learning.
While I take great pride in my professional service and publications record, what I still enjoy most is teaching and mentoring graduate students who get initiated into professional associations like the international Teachers of Speakers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) association and its state affiliate California TESOL (CATESOL). I am proud to say that every year, we have over 10 students who present at the annual conferences of these associations.