Desirée Pallais successfully defended her PhD in the Bilingual/Bicultural program at the University of Texas at Austin on December 12, 2019. She is very interested in critically examining how assumptions derived from established ideologies and policy initiatives, guide educators in different contexts. She investigates cross-language and cross-cultural aspects of teaching and learning, especially with Spanish-speaking populations. She is specifically interested in Spanish literacy in the US and in Latin America, and in implementing a strengths-based approach to support the preparation of bilingual teachers in the US.
In the past, she has been a literacy consultant, an instructional designer, a program evaluator, a school leader, a trainer, a teacher, and a writer. She has taught ESL, Spanish and content area classes to children 3-15 years, in her native Nicaragua and in the US.
Pallais designed and developed e-learning courses, model lessons, research, evaluation, and instructional tools. In the past, she investigated cross-language aspects of reading. She is also committed to investigating cross-cultural issues as they apply to international cooperation efforts, and with underserved populations of Spanish-speaking origin in the US.
She is interested in supporting education efforts in Latin America. Currently, she is the vice-president of the board of directors OLI, an Online Learning Initiative, which was founded and is led by Dr. Felix Alvarado. Dr. Alvarado has collocated the Curriculum Nacional Base de Guatemala, on an online platform and supports Latin American educators in a variety of ways. Between November 2014 and June of 2015, Pallais supported Finland’s Ministry of Education on the evaluation of EIBAMAZ, a bilingual intercultural education project that systematized ancestral knowledge from indigenous communities in the Amazon. The decade-long project created curricular products to support bilingual classrooms in the region.
Pallais has assisted the Agency for International Development‘s education efforts in Perú and Nicaragua. In January of 2014, she organized a literacy study tour in Texas, for Peruvian educators from the Amazon regions of San Martín and Ucayali, and from some regions in Lima. Educators visited the University of Brownsville. The tour was financed by USAID/Peru and Family Health International.She supported a similar effort in February of 2017.
Between 2004 and 2013, she worked at the University of Texas at Austin, developing educational materials, collaborating with technical assistance efforts, creating proposals to support bilingual educators, presenting in conferences, supporting the conversion of face-to-face trainings into online courses, managing e-learning content, developing quizzes, and designing formative evaluation tools to improve the quality of products.
Pallais has been a guest lecturer in the Department of Special Education at the University of Texas at Austin. She also taught in the Department of Education of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN). Previously, she taught English and Spanish to children, adolescents, and adults, mainly in alternative education contexts.
Ms. Pallais has strong writing skills. Recently, she wrote an article aimed at improving understanding of the challenges faced by Spanish-speaking students who struggle with reading in English. She wrote a chapter titled “Teaching Adolescent English Language Learners”. During the 1980’s, she wrote about the social changes taking place in Nicaragua, in several news agencies and specialized magazines. Here is one example for Terra Nuova Forum.
In her native Nicaragua, she taught at the public university, and worked for the the Ministry of Education as part of a USAID-funded project. Click here for a summary of her work there. she founded, directed, and taught at an innovative school, Lo Pequeño es Bello (Small is Beautiful), that introduced a technology-based curriculum to small children using child-centered philosophies. The pioneer school served as the pedagogical basis for a new school. This is a letter from the director of the new school. In 2014 she started the website Intercultural Center for Reading and Writing (Centro Intercultural de Lectura y Escritura, CILEES) , to promote the use of independent reading centers and materials as part of an effort of cultural exchange and collaboration.
Click here to view Pallais’ Curriculum Vitae.