Ninah Beliavsky

Associate Professor and ESL Coordinator
Languages and Literatures
Ph.D., 1993, Northwestern University, Applied Linguistics M.A., 1987, Northwestern University, Applied LinguisticsB.A., 1983, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Psychology B.A., 1982, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Linguistics/Philosophy

About Ninah Beliavsky
Dr. Ninah Beliavsky is an Associate Professor and the Coordinator of ESL in the Department of Languages and Literatures at St. John’s University, Queens, New York where she teaches Linguistics, Modern Hebrew and English as a Second Language. She holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in applied Linguistics from Northwestern University and a B.A. in Linguistics and Psychology from the Universities of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and Madison. Dr. Beliavsky has also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, France and the University of Tel Aviv in Israel. Dr. Beliavsky speaks Russian, Hebrew, French, and English. Her interests include child language acquisition, the use of the imagination in language learning and teaching, bringing the arts (music and dance) into the classroom, and applying Lev Vygotsky’s and Howard Gardner’s theories to language teaching. More recently, Dr. Beliavsky has also become interested in exploring the theoretical and the practical implications of formulaic language and has started incorporating formulaic language into her L2 instruction. Her articles appeared in various journals such as WORD: Journal of the International Linguistic Association, the Journal of Aesthetic Education, the Journal of the Imagination in Language Learning, Journal of Pacific Asian Communication and The Hong Kong Linguist, among others. She also contributed to two anthologies: Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner and New Methods in College Teaching and Imagination, and Cognition and Language Acquisition, both edited by Dr. Clyde Coreil. Dr. Beliavsky was honored to serve as an associate editor for the latter. She has lectured extensively at International/National language conferences held by various organizations such as the  AERA, TESOL, and ILA. In 2002, she was invited to present her paper “Revisiting Vygotsky and Gardner: Realizing Human Potential” at the International Conference on L. S. Vygotsky at the Moscow State University. Dr. Beliavsky has been an active member of the International Linguistics Association (ILA) since 2000 and has served on the Board of the Executive Committee of the ILA since 2001. In 2009, she was invited to Chair the Annual International Conference for the International Linguistics Association, which she held at St. John’s University's Manhattan Campus. On April 19, 2014, Dr. Ninah Beliavsky Co-Chaired an international conference on “Teaching Formulaic Language” that was also held on the St. John’s University Manhattan Campus. 

On April 20-22, 2018, Dr. Ninah Beliavsky was invited to deliver an Opening Address on Language and Religion- “He blew into his nostrils the breath of life and it became in Adam a power of speech” at the 63rd Annual International Linguistic Association Conference  (ILA) at SJU.

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

The Essence of my teaching philosophy is two-fold:

1. Engaging students and making them passionate about life!

2. Teaching ESL through the lens of history, literature, art, dance, music, religion, and cultural traditions!

I try to engage, encourage and help my students notice the world around them, the vast cultural heritage of their own cultures, as well as all other cultures. I try to excite and empower my students to take an active role in their own learning, making them passionate about the arts, history, and literature. I try to equip my students with the meta language to speak about language and the world, to understand concepts in perspective, to be able to express ideas and opinions with clarity, to take a stand, and most importantly, to be able to tie all the information together. My hope is to prepare students to become intellectual and intelligent citizens of the world.  Teaching is like painting or choreographing a dance…the process is intrinsically important to the beauty and esthetics of the outcome.

My interests include child language acquisition, the use of the imagination in language learning and teaching, bringing the arts—music and dance—into the classroom, applying Lev Vygotsky’s and Howard Gardner’s theories to language teaching, and my latest interest includes incorporating Formulaic Language into the second Language classroom.

Formulaic Language and Formulaic Sequences are some of the terms used by researchers in reference to lexical units that are more than one word long. Research suggests that “the brain stores Formulaic Sequences in long-term memory, thereby bypassing the need to compose them online through word selection and grammatical sequencing in capacity-limited working memory.” (Conklin and Schmitt, 2012, 32,45-61)

There is a clear advantage in the way that both native and non-native speakers process Formulaic Language compared to the way in which they process non-Formulaic Language. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly clear that Formulaic Language is an important element of language use, language learning, and language teaching.

I call Formulaic Language Linguistic Choreography.** Having lived my life in two worlds, those of dance and language, it was only natural for me to coin this expression since dance and language intertwine, correlate, and complement each other. As a consequence, they are integral to my teaching of ESL.

Linguistic Choreography is all around us—in films, literature, dance, and music. Just open your eyes and you will discover the infinite resources and treasures that color our language and our daily lives. Linguistic Choreography allows and helps L2 learners to be more fluent and to sound more like native speakers. Native speakers automatically acquire Formulaic Language throughout their lives, while L2 learners must be taught to use Formulaic Language correctly and in a relatively short amount of time.

ESL lessons can no longer consist of vocabulary and grammar alone. These lessons must encompass the culture of the language being taught. Thus, art, music, dance, poetry, and film are integral to Intellectual Choreography,*** which is a necessary prerequisite to Linguistic Choreography. In other words, the less integrated students are in the culture of the language they are studying—and more broadly, in the interconnections between that culture and that of the world, so that they are capable of becoming “citizens of the world”—the more difficult the language learning process becomes.

As a consequence, Teaching Formulaic Language in the L2 classroom is a necessity.

*Formulaics, coined term by Coreil, C. 2014

** Linguistic Choreography, coined by Beliavsky, N., 2014

***Intellectual Choreography, coined by Beliavsky, N., 2014

  • I am interested in the learning methods first discussed by Lev Vygotsky, a noted Russian psycholinguist. I am especially interested in how Vygotsky’s theory of the “Zone of Proximal Development”  – dealing with development of more accurate means of predicting the child’s future cognitive development, relates to Professor Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences.
  • I am also researching the impact of “The Mozart Effect” on the memory and comprehension of ESL students. Recent developments in the field of educational psychology provided a glimmer of understanding of how music improves spatial-temporal reasoning. My research aims to demonstrate that college students learning English as their second language significantly improve in their comprehension and memory of written texts while listening to music.
  • Furthermore, I continue to develop new and unorthodox methods of promoting motivation and reducing anxiety in college students by using new content based materials in the ESL classroom, including opera, music, dance, art, young adult literature, and Chekhov’s short stories.
  • “Existing-Being-Having in Modern Hebrew and in English”, published in WORD, Journal of the International Linguistic Association, Volume 57, Number 2-3, pp. 237-248, August, December, 2006, first published/ printed in summer 2014.
  • “The ‘Mozart Effect’ in the ESL Classroom”, The ‘X’ Point in Education: Where Imagination is Lost, Volume 9, The Journal of the Imagination in Language Learning, Clyde Coreil, Editor- in -Chief, Published by New Jersey City University, 2011.
  • Imagination, Cognition & Language Acquisition – A Unified Approach to Theory and Practice – Dr. Ninah Beliavsky, Associate Editor, a book setting forth creative and unorthodox methods of teaching college ESL published by New Jersey City University, 2007.
  • “Deconstructing the Essay to Beethoven’s Pathetique” – published in Imagination, Cognition and Language Acquisition: A Unified Approach to Theory and Practice, (Clyde Coreil, ed.) New Jersey City University Press, 2007.
  • “Discover the unknown Chekhov in your ESL classroom” published in Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 41, No. 3 University of Illinois Press, 2007, pp.101-109
  • “Okno v Moskvu” – “A Window to Moscow” –published in Sobesednik No.3 (25) July-September 2007 - a Russian Literary Journal (RLJ) - international literary publication of the International Institute of New Jersey.
  • “Revisiting Vygotsky and Gardner: Realizing Human Potential”, chapter in Book, published in Imagination, Cognition and Language Acquisition: A Unified Approach to Theory and Practice, (Clyde Coreil, Editor-in-Chief; Ninah Beliavsky, Associate editor) New Jersey City University Press, 2007.
  • “Beliavsky’s Epilogue: A Tale of Two Cities”, published in Imagination, Cognition and Language Acquisition: A Unified Approach to Theory and Practice, (Clyde Coreil, Editor-in-Chief; Ninah Beliavsky, Associate editor) New Jersey City University Press, 2007.
  • “Revisiting Vygotsky and Gardner: Realizing Human Potential”, in The Journal of Aesthetic Education, Volume 40, Number 2, Summer 2006, pp. 1-11.
  • “An Artistic Performance: Teaching Culture, Managing Anxiety and Promoting Motivation”, in The Hong Kong Linguist, Journal of the Chartered Institute of Linguistics, Hong Kong Society, No. 26, 2006, pp 22-28.
  • “A Developmental Sequence of Pronominal Reference in Narrative”, in WORD, Journal of the International Linguistic Association, Volume 54, Number 2, August, 2003, pp. 167-189.
  • “Linking the World Mosaic or Beethoven’s Hairy Arms”, in Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner and New Methods in College Teaching, (Clyde Coreil, ed.), Published by New Jersey City University, 2003, pp 43-46.
  • Artwork published in Sobesednik a Journal of the International Institute of New Jersey, Vol. 22, No. 4, October-December 2006.
  • Metaphor Culture and World View: The Case of American English and the Chinese Language, by Dilin Liu, Reviewed by Ninah Beliavsky, in Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 355-360
  • “English Through Opera”, in The Journal of the Imagination in Language Learning and Teaching, Clyde Coreil, editor, Volume 6, 2001. 

Invited to deliver an Opening Address on Language and Religion- “He blew into his nostrils the breath of life and it became in Adam a power of speech”at the 63rd Annual International Linguistic Association Conference  (ILA) at SJU, April 20-22, 2018

Presented a paper “Teaching ESL through the Art of Improvisation and Choreography” at the 37th edition of the Congreso del Círculo de Cultura Panamericano (Congress of the Pan-American Culture Circle), an event dedicated to Hispanic culture in all forms, at Miami Dade College’s (MDC) West CampusJuly 26 – 28, 2017

Led a* BALLROOM BASIX workshop with the Artistic Director of Ballroom Basix USA  on using Ballroom Dance in the Classroom to motivate students academically and prevent Bullying, at the 37th edition of the Congreso del Círculo de Cultura Panamericano (Congress of the Pan-American Culture Circle), an event dedicated to Hispanic culture in all forms, at Miami Dade College’s (MDC) West CampusJuly 26 – 28 , 2017

*BALLROOM BASIX is a non-competitive, arts-in-education initiative committed to the transformation of students’ social and fitness skills through the fun-filled ballroom and Latin dance experience. By consistently reinforcing the etiquette and manners inherent in partner dancing, the program instills self-worth, physical well-being and cooperation among the children it serves, while simultaneously instructing them in the diverse origins of the dances: historically, geographically and multi-culturally.

Lectured on the History of Argentine Tango at the 37th edition of the Congreso del Círculo de Cultura Panamericano (Congress of the Pan-American Culture Circle), an event dedicated to Hispanic culture in all forms, at Miami Dade College’s (MDC) West CampusJuly 26 – 28, 2017

Performed Argentine Tango at the 37th edition of the Congreso del Círculo de Cultura Panamericano (Congress of the Pan-American Culture Circle), an event dedicated to Hispanic culture in all forms, at Miami Dade College’s (MDC) West CampusJuly 26 – 28, 2017

Presented a Paper:

“Teaching Language with Music and Art: Latin American Literature in the ESL Classroom”

at a Symposium on Ruben Dario: 150 Years of influence and impact At SUNY College at

Old Westbury, October 4-5, 2017

Presented at Research Day Poster Symposium-Presentation/ Poster Session “ The China English Project” with Dr. Walter Petrovitz and Dr. Herbert Pierson, on April 20, 2017

Co-Presented research with Dr. Clyde Coreil on Teaching ESL through Formulaics, Formulaics: The Other Half of Language, 2016

Presented a Paper –“Linguistic Choreography: Where Formulaics Meets Creativity” at The XII International Conference on Literature: Memory and Imagination of Latin America and the Caribbean through the Oral and Written Paths, at St. John’s University, on Oct 12-14, 2016

Presented a Paper –“A Secret Hideout: Young Adult Literature in College ESL” at The XII International Conference on Literature: Memory and Imagination of Latin America and the Caribbean through the Oral and Written Paths, at St. John’s University, on Oct 12-14, 2016

Presented a Paper -“–“Linguistic Choreography: Where Formulaics Meets Creativity” at the NYS TESOL 46th Annual Conference: Collaborations in the Classroom and Beyond, in Crown Plaza, Syracuse, NY, on Nov 4-5, 2016

Participated/Performed at The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

(CLACS), Monday, December 19th, 2016

Organized and Co-Chaired An International Conference on Teaching Formulaic Language: Formulaics: The Other Half of Language. The conference was held at St. John’s University, at The Manhattan Campus, in Saval Auditorium on April 19, 2014.

Delivered a Keynote Address: “Linguistic Choreography: Where Formulaics Meets Creativity” on April 19, 2014 at the International Conference on Teaching Formulaic Language: Formulaics:The Other Half of Language. The conference was held at St. John’s University, at The Manhattan Campus, in Saval Auditorium on April 19, 2014.

Prepared my ESL students for participating and presenting at the conference on Teaching Formulaic Language: Formulaics: The Other Half of Language. The conference was held at St. John’s University, at The Manhattan Campus, in Saval Auditorium on April 19, 2014. Students made valuable contributions by sharing what they have been learning and demonstrating some of their projects.

Invited /delivered a paper at the Language Learning and the Imagination Symposium on “The Effects of Music on Foreign Language Learning”, April 30, 2010, at New Jersey City University, NJ

Invited/ Chaired/Delivered An Opening Address at the International Linguistics Association’s (ILA) 54th Annual Conference in April, 2009.
 

From April 3 to April 5, 2009 I organized and chaired the 54th Annual International Linguistic Association (ILA) Conference titled Imagination, and Language Learning and Teaching, dedicated to the memory of the late Lev Vygotsky, who has become one the most influential figures in our understanding of the imagination, particularly in relation to language teaching. The Conference was held at the Manhattan campus of St. John’s University where I invited prominent academicians to give keynote addresses and to lecture at the Conference. The names like dr. Elena Kravtsova-Vygotsky– Russian State University for Humanities, Moscow, Russia; granddaughter of Lev S. Vygotsky, Dr. Maxine Greene – Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY Dr. Clyde Coreil – New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ. Dr. Steven Brown – McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada are all well known in the Linguistic community and generated much excitement and interest in appearing together, under the sponsorship of St. John’s University.

I was involved in every stage of this conference from personally inviting the lecturers and keynote speakers to creation of the Conference program. As part of the opening celebration of the 54th ILA Conference I organized a piano - violin recital and a dance performance.

April 16, 2005 – International Linguistic Association 50th Annual Conference, John Jay College, New York, delivered a lecture entitled “The Mozart Effect in the ESL Classroom”

April 12, 2005 – delivered a paper entitled “Discover the unknown Chekhov in your ESL classroom” at the 2005 AERA Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada.

June 22, 2004 –Conducted a workshop entitled “Teaching and Learning: Helping Second-language Students in College-level Courses” at Second Summer Institute for Faculty Development sponsored by New Jersey City University, Hudson County Community College and Passaic County Community College.

April 12-16, 2004 – American Educational Research Association Annual Conference in San Diego, delivered a lecture entitled “Lev Vygotsky and Howard Gardner: Through a New Lens”

March 19, 2004 – International Linguistic Association 49th Annual Conference, Hunter College, New York, delivered a lecture entitled “Interpreting Lev Vygotsky”

Delivered a paper, “Revisiting Vygotsky and Gardner: Realizing Human Potential”, International conference on creativity and imagination in education and methods of mastery Russian State University for the Humanities Moscow, Russia, November 17-20, 2003

Invited/Served

Served on the Executive Committee Board of WORD, The Journal of The International Linguistics Association (ILA) and was a Member of the ILA, 2000-2014; AERA; TESOL

Served on the Review Board of the ILA- Reading/Reviewing papers for Annual Conferences of the International Linguistic Association, (ILA) between 2000-2014.

Invited to speak at the JSA conference on the subject of "Gifts of the Jews to Modern Society” December 3, 2007.

Invited to St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance to explore the establishment of ongoing and long-term relationship of educational international cooperation with St. John’s University—to be organized at a future date.

Developed a semester long class project involving every student in my ESL class. Created and edited a Journal for ESL students. Every semester the students write essays and poetry, do art and photography that they contribute to the journal. The journal is published at the end of the semester.

Invited Mr. Bernard Gotfryd, a noted Holocaust survivor, lecturer and author, to speak to the undergraduate and graduate students in my ESL classes. The students were studying Mr. Gotfryd’s stories from his book Anton the Dove Fancier: and Other Tales of the Holocaust for several weeks prior to the visit. The students wrote reaction papers based on our study of the Holocaust and the stories that they read in class and wrote letters to Mr. Gotfryd, expressing their feelings and gratitude for his visit to our class. The students also included a list of questions for Mr. Gotfryd to address. The lecture and discussion was very successful. The students were very moved by the presentation and were able to relate the experiences of the speaker and the horrors of the Holocaust to similar events in their own countries in Europe and Asia as experienced by their parents and grandparents. After the visit the students were instructed to write letters to Mr. Gotfryd, expressing their gratitude and impressions. Once those letters were self-edited for syntactical errors, they were sent to Mr. Gotfryd. In turn Mr. Gotfryd sent a letter to the class expressing his appreciation for a warm reception and welcome. Mr., Gotfryd privately confided in me that he will forward the letters from the students to the National Holocaust Archives, April 20, 2010.

Organize/d Cultural Activities for the ESL and for ALL the SJU students, both undergraduate and graduate, including the GLCC community.

Those activities have been sponsored by the LC of SJU and St. John College and The Department of Languages and Literatures-- Films: Mao’s Last Dancer, The Miracle Worker, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Book Thief, among others; Workshops: A Business Writing Workshop for St. John's Chapter “Ascend”, Teaching Modern Hebrew, Grammar/Culture lessons, dance workshops; Events:  A Thanksgiving history lesson; and Conferences: International Conferences on Teaching Language, Lectures on the Holocaust, among others 

Courses Taught at St. John's University:

  • Introduction to Language LIN 1010
  • Survey of Linguistics LIN 1020
  • Modern Hebrew I & II
  • Intermediate Oral/Aural, ESLS 1200   
  • Advanced Oral/Aural, ESLS 1300
  • Low Intermediate Reading/Writing, ESLW 1100
  • Intermediate Reading/Writing, ESLW 1200           
  • Advanced Reading/Writing, ESLW 1300
  • Discover New York, DNY 1000C
  • ESL
  • Linguistics
  • Modern Hebrew
  • Coordinator of ESL at the Department of Languages and Literatures
  • ESL Coordinator at the GLCC, serving the ESL tutors and organizing ESL events such as films and discussions and working with Learning Communities in order to help serve the ESL students better.
  • Moderator/Faculty Advisor for the Jewish Students’ Association JSA of St. John’s University.

Professional Organizations
ERA
NYS TESOL