Hi, I am

Karolina Achirri

I am a teacher.

About Me

Video credit to Zhenbo Fang!

About Me

I have been living and teaching in Poland, England, China and the U.S. for the past 15 years. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and a Master’s Degree in English Philology, specializing in British Literature and am currently working on my doctorate in Second Language Studies at Michigan State University.

I have a broad experience teaching on a variety of levels, i.e., from elementary school to university. My teaching can be characterized by a very professional approach combined with a willingness to assist younger teachers with teaching strengths as IELTS and TOEFL preparation, Literature classes, Advanced Grammar, Academic Writing, Pronunciation, etc.

Being familiar with Chinese culture and speak Mandarin, I obtained the HSK4 Certificate in Chinese Language. Also, I have consulted well-renowned schools in China including New Oriental, TEFL Academy, Strong International Group, Hangzhou Normal University and Hangzhou No 4 High School.

Additionally, I speak Polish, English, Russian, Ukrainian and Latin. This has sharpened my awareness of cultural influences on ESL and EFL learning as well as my students’ preferred learning styles. These experiences are also being extended onto my research interests which include intercultural communication, teacher identity, qualitative research methods and sociocultural approaches to second language acquisition.

I have written three books related to IELTS. All of them were internationally recognized and met with a huge interest. Finally, my memoir from China, entitled “Call me LiNana”, has been recently published.




Curriculum Vitae


Academic Qualifications

Ph.D. Candidate in Second Language Studies
Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA Planned graduation: May 2020

M.A. in English Philology
Nicolaus Copernicus University of Torun, Poland, 2009
Thesis: Madness and Death in Virginia Woolf’s Life and Selected Works

B.A. in English Philology
Pila Academy of Business, Pila, Poland, 2007
Thesis: Critical Reception of John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

TESOL & TEFL Qualifications

American TESOL Advanced Certification
American TESOL Institute, 2015
Thesis: Intercultural L2 Teaching in China and Abroad

Certified IELTS Speaking and Writing Examiner
British Council, Shanghai, China, 2012

Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)
Sutton College of Learning for Adults, Sutton, Surrey, U.K., 2004


Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
Instructor of Pedagogical Grammar, Summer 2019

Hangzhou No 4 International High School, Hangzhou, China
Teacher of English as a First Language, IELTS, TOEFL, SAT, Academic English, 2014-2016 cont.,

Hangzhou Normal University, China
Lecturer of College English, 2013-2014

Strong International Group, Binjiang, Hangzhou, China
Teacher of IELTS, TOEFL, English for Academic Purposes (EAP), Advanced English Language Skills (AELS); AP Literature and Composition
Curriculum Developer: IELTS Speaking, IELTS, Writing, IELTS Listening and EAP, 2012-2013

New Oriental Elite, Hangzhou, China
Teacher of English as a Foreign Language
Curriculum Developer
Book Club Coordinator, 2011-2012

The TEFL Academy, Hangzhou, China
Teachers’ Manager
Teacher of ESL Classes, English Corners, Business English, English for Specific Purposes, 2010-2011

Shuren University, Hangzhou, China
English Teacher of Oral English and Business English, 2010-2011

‘Progress’ Private Language School, Cracow, Poland Founder, Proprietor, Director, English Teacher, 2009-2010

Pigmalion’ Language School, Torun, Poland
English Teacher of Cambridge exams (FCE, CAE, CPE), Pronunciation, Comprehensive Reading, Speaking, Advanced Grammar, 2008-2009

English and German Teachers Training College, Zlotow, Poland
Lecturer of Practical English, Phonetics, Writing, Speaking, Extensive Listening, Extensive Reading, British Literature, British History and Culture, 2007-2008

Technical High School, Pila, Poland
English Teacher, Teacher of English for Specific Purposes, Polish Matriculation Exam classes, 2004-2007

Private Language School ‘Accent plus’, Pila, Poland
English Teacher of Cambridge courses (FCE, CAE, CPE), Pronunciation and Phonetics, Reading, Grammar (Basic and Advanced), Literature, Culture classes, British and American History, 2004-2007


Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
Teaching Assistant
Second/Foreign Language Teaching Methods (Fall 2019 & Spring 2020)
Pedagogical Grammar (Spring 2019)
Second Language Learning (Fall 2018 & Spring 2019)


Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
Research Assistant to Dr. Shawn Loewen (Spring 2018)
Research Assistant to Dr. Peter De Costa (Fall 2017)
Research Assistant to Drs. Gass and Winki (Fall 2016 & Spring 2017)



2017 Call me Li Nana: Memoirs of a foreigner in China. Kalahari Press
2015 IELTS Band 9: An Academic Guide for Chinese Students. Volume I. Ann Arbor, MI: Chopstick Press
2015 IELTS Band 9: An Academic Guide for Chinese Students. Volume II. Ann Arbor, MI: Chopstick Press
2015 IELTS Examiner’s Tips: An Academic Guide to IELTS Speaking and Writing. Ann Arbor, MI: Chopstick Press

Journal Articles

2019 A dynamic interplay of professional identities: An instrumental case study of a teacher-researcher’s identity (re)construction – forthcoming in The Qualitative Report
2019 Intercultural learning in contemporary Chinese students’ academic adjustment: An instrumental case study – forthcoming in Intercultural Communication Education
2017 Perceiving Identity through Accent Lenses: A Case Study of a Chinese English Speaker’s Perceptions of Her Pronunciation and Perceived Social Identity. MSU Working Papers in Second Language Studies, Vol. 8, Number 1
2017 Interview with Professor Martha Bigelow. MSU Working Papers in Second Language Studies, Vol. 8, Number 1

Other Publications

2013 ‘Panda-monium’ at Hangzhou Zoo. A cultural article in China That’s Zhejiang
2013 Touching Heaven: Venturing up high at Yellow Mountain. (Travel Article) in China That’s Zhejiang
2013 The conundrum of Chinese Bamboo. A cultural article in China That’s Zhejiang
2013 The Eyes are Useless When the Mind is Blind. A cultural article in China That’s Zhejiang


2017 MSU Asian Studies Centre S.C. Lee Award for a research paper: “Perceiving identity through accent lenses: A case study of a Chinese English speaker’s perceptions of her pronunciation and perceived social identity” ($500)
2004 Polish Prime Minister’s Scholarship Award


2019-2020 The Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology Graduate Fellowship, Michigan State University ($5000)
2019 MSU College of Arts and Letters Summer Support Fellowship ($4500)
2019 MSU Dissertation Completion Fellowship ($8000)
2018-2019 Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Teaching Fellowship Program, The Graduate School and James Madison College, Michigan State University ($5000)
2018 Pronunciation Instruction Graduate Fellowship by the MSU English Language Center and Graduate School ($1000)
2018 MSU College of Arts and Letters Summer Support Fellowship ($4500)
2017 MSU College of Arts and Letters Summer Support Fellowship ($5000)
2006-2007 Nicolaus Copernicus University of Torun Research and Study Grant
2005-2006 Pila Academy of Business Research and Study Grant


2019 Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs (MCAA), Michigan State University, Chinese undergraduate students’ intercultural experiences in the U.S., October 4-6
2019 15th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (ICQI), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL, A dynamic interplay of professional identities: An instrumental case study of teacher-researcher’s identity (re)construction, May 15-18
2019 Michigan Academy 2019 (MASAL), Alma College, Alma, MI, A dynamic interplay of professional identities: An instrumental case study of teachers’/researchers’ identity (re)construction, March 1
2019 COGS Graduate Academic Conference 2019, Michigan State University, A dynamic interplay of professional identities: An instrumental case study of teacher-researcher’s identity (re)construction, Feb 16
2017 13th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL, I teach; therefore, I am: An autoethnographic study of teacher identity development, May 17-20
2017 Michigan Academy MASAL 2017 Conference, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, Input, output, and feedback in relation to “Duolingo”, March 10
2017 Purdue Languages and Cultures Conference (PLCC), Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, Chinese students’ academic adjustment in the US through the lens of interculturality, March 3-5
2015 13th Asia TEFL International Conference Nanjing, China, IELTS BAND 9: A product presentation, November 6-8


2019 Teaching Interculturality Across the Curriculum: Activities for instructors of International Students, CELTA Professional Development Series, Michigan State University, March 29
2019 Teaching Interculturality at James Madison College: A Practical Workshop for the faculty. Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Teaching Fellowship, Michigan State University, March 18
2017 Certification in College Teaching Workshop, Graduate School, Michigan State University, May 11-12
2016 IELTS Band 9 Book Tour, Hangzhou, China, Sept 2015-June 2016
203 How to effectively teach IELTS Writing? Workshop for teachers, Strong International, Hangzhou, China, June 14
2012 The biggest challenges in achieving fluency with Chinese students. Workshop for teachers, Strong International, Hangzhou, China, Dec 10


Team Program for Second Language Research Forum (SLRF 2019), 2019
Abstract/Proposal Reviewer for Second Language Research Forum (SLRF 2019), 2019
Reviewer for Journal of Language and Education, 2018-present
MSU Working Papers: Editor, 2016-2017
Midwest Association of Language Testers: MwALT Graduate Student Representative, 2017-2018


Graduate Employees Union Pedagogy Committee member, 2018-present
Co-chair of Student Organization of Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy (SOSLAP), 2018-2019 SLS program steward for Graduate Employees Union at MSU120, 2018-2019 SLS program student representative for Faculty meetings, 2018-2019
Testing & Tasting: A reading group on language testing and assessment, 2017-2018 SLS Weekly Digest Editorial Assistant, Fall 2017


Polish (native)
English (master)
Russian (advanced)
Ukranian (intermediate)
Latin (intermediate)
Chinese (HSK 4)


MITESOL member, 2019-2020
Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2018-present
National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, 2017-present
Modern Language Association of Poland (PTN), 2012-present
Asia TEFL (Teaching and Learning English in Asia), 2015-present
Linguistic Society of America, 2015-present
American Association for Applied Linguistics, 2016-present

Teaching Statement

Teaching has always been at the core of my professional life! Here’s how I see it:

Docendo discimus (“by teaching, we learn”) by Seneca has always been my work maxim. I consider myself a cultural boundary crosser when it comes to my students. In general, my teaching experiences in England, Poland, China and currently the U.S. have helped me learn a great deal about other people. Yet, it wouldn’t have been possible without staying open to their multitudinous cultures. In praxis, I it is important to stay consciously aware of the theory behind what I teach and how I teach but also to use such theory to empower myself and my students. My teaching style is based on social constructivist and intercultural approaches to language acquisition. I see language as always inextricably connected with cultures and identities of both teachers and learners. I have been consistently working to contribute to problematize the West-East dichotomy, as well as the still persisting myth of a native speaker being the best teacher one can hope for. My mission is to guide students through their learning trajectories with regard to language socialization and multiple identities while addressing the aforementioned conceptual characteristics. I address these in the following ways:

  1. Validating and developing learners’ pre-existing knowledge. Students come into courses with preexisting knowledge, conceptions, and experiences, as do teachers. I attempt to explore these by surveying students’ linguistic knowledge and individual experiences (through dialogue and frequent discussions). Then, I encourage my students to capitalize on their strengths to further develop their linguistic abilities. I do so through personalizing instruction based on students’ needs (with the use of various multimodalities) and desires for improvement (following a needs analysis) and valuing students’ input on the syllabus.
  2. Encouraging individual creativity throughout learning process. I see creativity as one of the mostunder-utilized human characteristics in the context of language learning. I emphasize it to my students as an important aspect of language production. In writing, it is important in paraphrasing, developing and combining ideas, and avoiding plagiarism. In speaking, creativity facilitates meaning. I challenge my students to take chances and use language creatively to express themselves.
  3. Developing and maintaining rapport. I believe rapport exists not only between teacher and studentsbut also between teacher and the class as a whole. I see each group as heterogenous, but when individuals come together and engage in social functions in a classroom, certain characteristics of group dynamics become more apparent. As a teacher, I need to remember to claim legitimate authority over issues in my classes, simultaneously respecting students’ expectations. Therefore, I expect a certain level of attention and respect. I include some of my beliefs explicitly on my syllabi and discuss them in detail during first class each semester.
  4. Staying self-reflective. Because I perceive teaching as a reflective practice, I stay conscious andaware of my own triumphs and failures. I reckon it is crucial to stay conscious of whom I am as a person as well as a teacher. I keep a teaching journal where I record important moments and note any room for improvement. My multiple identities also inevitably affect how I conduct my classes. I frequently utilize Entry and Exit Ticket strategy to seek students’ feedback on how things are going in class at various times in a semester, in order to accommodate their suggestions and grow as a teacher.
  5. Utilizing my own experiences as a learner. As a second language learner myself, I understand manyof the struggles students face in their learning processes. I believe my own experiences can be extremely helpful in maintaining empathetic mind and seeking new ways of explaining complex concepts. I often use my own example in class to show students that successful language learning can and does happen, but that it requires hard work, self-motivation and persistence.
  6. Implementing interculturally responsive pedagogy. I believe cultural synergy, that is mutualexchanges in the spirit of mutual conviviality, are necessary elements of every classroom interactions. They allow for better understanding of ‘the other’ and facilitate two-way learning. Thus, I listen to my students’ stories and try to learn from them as much as I attempt to teach them.

Through constant interactions between my personal philosophies of teaching and conceptual frameworks behind such philosophies, I strive to develop my students’ full potential in language learning contexts. As a “tour guide” on their journeys to linguistic discoveries, I hope to foster skills that might prepare them for greater social challenges and real-life interactions. In due process, I also hope to broaden my own cultural understandings.

Syllabi from:

  • Language Learning & Teaching 346: Pedagogical Grammar

I love teaching this class. Here’s how I teach tenses:

  • Language Learning & Teaching 361: Second Language Learning

An example of a narrated Powerpoint for this online class:


Here’s who I am as a researcher:

Writing for publication. As my last elective class, I took TE982: Writing for Publication. I loved this class. It was so different from any other classes I was asked to take. Here’s the fruit of my labor in TE982!

(IIT) Interdisciplinary Inquiry And Teaching Fellowship

Interdisciplinary Inquiry And Teaching Fellowship

This fellowship, granted jointly by James Madison College and The Graduate School at MSU, has changed my life! It opened my ears to conversations that seldom happen in my program.

I developed a set of activities for instructors of international students as my fellowship project in hope of facilitating them to better understand international students, specifically the Chinese. My lens has been interculturality as theory here.

During workshops on MSU campus, I asked the attending faculty to evaluate the activities. They were asked to decide whether or not the given activity could be used in their courses. It was important to me to extend the workshop to teachers of subjects other than languages, to allow for interdisciplinary approach. This is the assessment sheet I created:

Here are some examples of the activities:



IELTS Band 9

An Academic Guide for Chinese Students

Link to Volume 1

Link to Volume 2

IELTS Examiner’s Tips

An Academic Guide to IELTS Speaking and Writing (International Version)

Link to Amazon

Call Me Li Nana

Memoirs of a Foreigner in China

Link to Amazon

Academic Presentations


IELTS Band 9

13thAsia TEFL International Conference

Nanjing, China

6-8 Nov, 2015

Link to Page

Shinyway book tour

Link to Page

Purdue Languages and Cultures Conference 2017

Link to Page

International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, Urbana-Champaign, 2017

Link to Page

COGS, Michigan State University, 2019

Link to Page    

15th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

May 15-18, 2019

Link to Page

MSU Second Language Studies PhD Program

MSU Second Language Studies PhD Program

Links to the MSU page as well as my page there:





Based in East Lansing, Michigan, USA

karolinaachirri [at] gmail.com

Drop Me A Line