SpeakExteriorAbout B-Speak!:

B-Speak! is a creation of Speak! Language Center, an established, private foreign language and ESL enterprise based in Charlottesville, Virginia. In addition to ESL programs such as this one, Speak! Language Center offers customized language instruction  for individuals, businesses and other organizations in 12 languages, in addition to translation and interpreting services. Speak! is owned and directed by Christina Ball, Ph.D., and includes a faculty of over 30 language professionals. Some of our clients include: The U.S. Department of Defense, SNL Financial, Virginia Commonwealth University and The University of Virginia.

The B-Speak! Team

Christina Ball, Ph.D, Owner/Director

Christina holds a Ph.D in Italian Language and Literature from Yale University. After many years of teaching at the university-level, her entrepreneurial spirit led her to create Speak! Language Center in 2004. Her mission, as that of her business, is to inspire and empower people through language, culture and community. As the Owner/Director of Speak!, Christina designs and coordinates the B-Speak! course with a team of experienced and equally enthusiastic instructors.

Paula Levine, Program Director

Born and raised in Texas, where her parents’ first language was Yiddish, Paula Levine grew up reading the dictionary for fun. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in education. She has been teaching ESL for 18 years, deriving deep pleasure from cross-cultural contact, the beauty of grammar and the remarkable progress motivated adults can make. A life-long westerner (after the Lone Star state, San Francisco, then Seattle, followed by Columbia, Missouri), she is now enjoying Charlottesville’s beauty and its jazz.

Liz Launer, Admin. Coordinator / ESL Instructor

Liz joined the Speak! team in 2012 to help pilot the B-Speak! program for international MBA students. Liz received her B.A. in Comparative Religion from New York University and an M.A. in English at Hunter College. Before coming to Speak!, she taught in an immersion ESL program at UNC-Charlotte and in several community colleges in North Carolina and Virginia. She continues to learn and grow and be inspired by her many students from different cultures.

Tricia Barham

After graduating from Virginia Tech with a Master’s degree, Tricia began teaching English as a Second Langage in Richmond, Virginia. She has been teaching for 15 years and currently teaches students online in both China and Korea. She has two children and she loves spending time outside doing things like camping and hiking and taking the dog to the park. She also likes to read and knit. Over the years, Tricia has run several marathons and races throughout the United States. Maybe one day she will run a race in China!

Dawn Gaither

Dawn is a native New Yorker with a B.A. in Political Science from Howard University and a J.D. from American University.  After practicing for many years, Dawn decided to put down her law books and take up teaching ESL.  She earned her CELTA from the University of Cambridge in 2003.  She lived out her dream of living and working in France for several years where she taught Legal English at the Universite Pantheon-Assas.  Since returning to Washington, D.C., Dawn has taught journalists, business executives, diplomats, doctors, lawyers, Ph.D candidates, and trailing spouses.  She is a huge fan of using real life materials to teach real life English with lots of enthusiasm, patience, and a warm American smile.

Doris Feldman

Doris earned her M.S. degree in Technical & Scientific Communications from James Madison University. Before joining the Speak! ESL team, Doris worked for several years as a writer for a global clinical research organization where she collaborated closely with business professionals and subject-matter experts whose first language was not English. She understands the communication challenges non-native English speakers face in the workplace. She is also an ESL literacy tutor and has had the opportunity to work with ESL speakers from many different countries—one-on-one and in small groups at all levels of English proficiency. These experiences working with diverse cultures and her love for learning inspired Doris to further her knowledge of English as a second language and become EFL/ESOL and Business English certified.

Megan Pugh

Having grown up overseas as a child, Megan is a ‘third-culture kid’.  She has lived in Honduras, Sweden, Malaysia, India, Australia, Germany and most recently South Korea where she met and married her husband.  An environmentalist, Megan studied biology and she incorporates her love of nature in her English language teaching, as well as weaving in themes of travel and intercultural communication.   Since obtaining her MATESOL, she has been an ESL teacher at Seoul National University and in the culturally diverse community colleges of Seattle, Washington.  Having recently moved to Virginia, Megan is celebrating her 12th year teaching ESL and is relishing in reuniting with her family who live locally.

Ruth Salomon

Ruth Salomon is a National Merit Scholar with a BA in economics and an MA in international development, currently working toward the Cambridge University Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) and ESL certification through the Virginia Department of Education.  Ruth is a long-time freelance writer, with experience working for the US Agency for International Development in Russia and Eastern Europe. Her focus is on integrating the subject matter with the current interests of the student, making the learning process interesting so that the material will be easy to remember. She also helps students with effective time management and study planning.

Maggie Varland

A friend and contributor to the Speak! team since 2010, Maggie is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she studied Chinese Language, Literature, and Culture. She is currently completing a Masters of International Business with Hult International Business School in Shanghai, China and looks forward to future collaborations with Speak! as it expands its global network of language learners, teachers, and enthusiasts.