Greta Muller Levis
What did you study for your undergrad? What did you decide to do post-grad?
During my undergrad, I couldn’t decide between becoming a French Teacher or musician. I was afraid my French would never be good enough to teach, so I decided to get a Bachelor of Music degree with a specialty in piano. I also studied a lot of French. After graduation, I realized I didn’t know a life without education so I made the choice to get a Master’s degree in piano pedagogy at Temple University in Philadelphia. Once grad school was over, I started teaching piano privately and at the University of Wyoming. Interacting with my piano students and thinking of ways to help them learn showed me that I loved teaching.
How did you become interested in your academic field?
While I was doing my Masters in Piano, I had a friend who was studying for a Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. I thought if I ever went back to school, that’s what I would study. Later, when my husband decided to go back to school, I suggested TESL, so he decided to go to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He loved his phonetics and phonology class so much, it’s all we talked about in the evenings. I was not looking for a new career, but decided to start studying for an MA in TESL.
Have you had any cultural and or language experiences that affected your education or way of thinking?
As a child, I lived in England for two years and traveled a lot with my family, and in college I studied at the Mozarteum in Austria for a year. These experiences were influential in learning to share my life with people from other cultures. Very soon after I got married, I suggested that we host exchange students and since then, we have hosted high school and college students from many countries like Sweden, Malaysia, Nigeria and India. I have also traveled to numerous places including India where I adopted my daughters. I have gone four times to Haiti for a community development project where I worked with mountain schools. These trips made me aware of the strengths and weaknesses of bilingual societies as well as the importance of language policies. A passion for language policy and education came out of this experience.
What advice do you have for undergraduate students?
Trust the process. You do not need to have all the answers while you are an undergraduate student. It is normal to change and add majors and to be unsure about your future. I strongly suggest studying abroad or doing a national student exchange because it takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to try new things. Finally, take risks and remember that there is life after school!
What are your interests and hobbies?
I love to sing, dance, travel, and read. One of my favorite things to do is to interact with others and meet people from different cultures.
What do you work on during the summer?
During the summer, I advise current and incoming students. This summer, I am working on developing and expanding the Linguistics program. I have also done research on second language acquisition and pronunciation topics.