Paula Winke Named Inaugural Arts & Letters Professor

Paula Winke, Professor in the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures (LiLaC) at Michigan State University, recently was named the inaugural Arts & Letters Professor recognizing her outstanding intellectual leadership and excellence in teaching.

“It is a true honor to be the inaugural Arts & Letters Professor in the College of Arts & Letters,” Winke said. “This award is meaningful to me, my fellow colleagues in LiLaC, and my graduate and undergraduate students who work to make the world more compassionate through language education.”

A picture of a woman with short brown hair and glasses wearing a blue short-sleeve shirt.
Dr. Paula Winke

Dr. Winke is the Director of the Second Language Studies Ph.D. Program in the Applied Linguistics Program in LiLaC. She teaches courses on language assessment, language teaching methods, and cognitive and affective factors that contribute to differential language-learning growth.

Her research, which has been featured in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Public Radio International, SLATE magazine, The Associated Press, and other outlets, focuses on the ways educators and testing bodies can create language assessments that are fair, reliable, and valid. She is a partner with the Michigan Department of Education, using state data to track English learners’ English-language growth in Michigan K-12 schools.

“It is a true honor to be the inaugural Arts & Letters Professor in the College of Arts & Letters. This award is meaningful to me, my fellow colleagues in LiLaC, and my graduate and undergraduate students who work to make the world more compassionate through language education.”

Winke was bestowed the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations (NFMLTA)/Modern Language Journal Paul Pimsleur Award for Research in World Language Education in 2021, the American Association for Applied Linguistics Research Article of the Year Award in 2020, the TESOL International Association Award for Distinguished Research in 2012, and the Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium’s Outstanding Article Award in 2009.

“My work is centered in validity and fairness in foreign and second language testing,” Winke said, “which is part of an endeavor to ensure equitable learning opportunities and fairness in education, employment, immigration, and citizenship.”

Winke is Editor of the international journal, Language Testing. She also is a national advisor to the U.S. Foreign Service Institute (FSI) through an Intergovernmental Personnel Act agreement between the U.S. Department of State and MSU’s Office of the Provost. In this role, she advises the FSI as it revises its language proficiency assessments, which are given in more than 60 languages and used to place U.S. diplomats and Foreign Service officers abroad.

Dr. Paula Winke (right) and her Alliance for African Partnership mentee Dr. Kadidja Koné (left)

Winke is a Co-PI on a U.S. National Security Agency STARTALK grant to educate K-12 teachers of Chinese on language assessment design. This grant will bring 15 K-12 Chinese teachers from around the United States to MSU’s campus for language assessment and STEM teaching during a two-week summer camp in 2023.

Additionally, Winke is a project leader in MSU’s new National Less Commonly Taught Languages Language Resource Center and a mentor to a College of Arts & Letters undergraduate researcher through funding from the College of Arts & Letters Undergraduate Research Initiative. She also is a faculty mentor in MSU’s International Studies and Programs’ Alliance for African Partnership (AAP). In February 2023, Dr. Winke and her AAP mentee, Dr. Kadidja Koné from the University of Arts and Humanities in Mali, West Africa, will travel together to Dakar, Senegal, to work at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop to develop a teacher training series for female African faculty on foreign language testing principles.

“My work is centered in validity and fairness in foreign and second language testing, which is part of an endeavor to ensure equitable learning opportunities and fairness in education, employment, immigration, and citizenship.”

Winke is also a former Peace Corps Volunteer to China, a two-time Fulbright Scholar (Hungary 2008, Germany 2022), and a former National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee member, through which she co-wrote a National Consensus Report on foreign language testing.

The Arts & Letters Professorship was created to recognize the outstanding contributions faculty make in the critical areas of intellectual leadership and to broaden the number of people, inside and outside the university, that each Arts & Letters Professor can reach and positively influence.

In addition to the title of Arts & Letters Professor, which may be held for as long as the faculty member remains active at MSU, Arts & Letters Professors are provided annual funds that may be used to share knowledge and inspiration and create opportunities. For example, the funds may be used to further research or creative projects, to support event programming, or provide for a research assistant, just to name a few possibilities.