I graduated from Cornell University in 1997 with a PhD in Applied Linguistics and a minor in Cognitive Studies. I have held positions at University of Minnesota, Penn State University, and University of Texas-Austin. I was also a faculty member in the former Department of Hispanic Studies at Rice University from 2000 to 2006. From 2006 to 2013, I was the director of the Language Program in Spanish and Portuguese at UT-Austin, one of the largest second language programs in the nation with a maximum enrollment of more than 2,000 students. One of the proudest achievements of our UT team was the successful improvement of our language courses with respect to the high level of expectations and concomitant academic achievement of the students in the program.

Rice CLIC: As Director of the Center for Languages & Intercultural Communication (CLIC), I manage the development of innovative and cutting-edge curricular programs in the twelve languages offered by Rice CLIC. The most significant aspect of our Center is predicated on its effort to expand the traditional skills approach of second language teaching/learning to an academically substantive, analytic approach that combines both instrumental and academic objectives.

As Director of the Center, one of my major goals is to lead the Rice CLIC to become a nationally recognized Center for second language learning and teaching based on sound research findings, efficient implementation of new technologies, and the expansion of educational goals to support international education and outreach initiatives.

Research: I conduct research in a number of areas associated with various aspects of the general field of second language acquisition/development, and its corresponding applied field of second language teaching. Currently, I am on the Editorial Board of the peer-reviewed journals Language@Internet and Journal of Spanish Language Teaching. The following are the most relevant areas of research I have developed:

  1. The analysis of morphological, syntactic and discursive knowledge of tense and aspect among adult second language (L2) learners. This topic is covered by five books published by John Benjamins (2000, 2002, 2005), Continuum Press (2008), de Gruyter (2013) and several articles in various professional journals and book chapters in refereed books.
  2. Second language learning/teaching among adult learners, including methodology, testing and the use of electronic media for second language learning. These topics are presented in two books published by  Georgetown University Press (2003, 2006)  as well as several refereed articles. I am also the author of a Spanish first year textbook, Conectándonos, published by Kendall-Hunt.
  3. Conceptual aspects of dialects in contact, with a special emphasis on social and political implications of bilingual education in the US. This is a topic covered by a book published by Multilingual Matters (2009) and a video documentary titled “The Choosers.”

Teaching: I regularly teach courses on L2 teaching methodology, the development of tense-aspect marking, theories of L2 development, cognitive approaches to L2 acquisition,  bilingualism, the sociolinguistics of Spanish, the history of Spanish, and L2 assessment and testing.

Life outside the university: I was born in Uruguay not too long ago. I am married to María José Tort, who works in clinical research. We have two sons, Julián and Lucas. Julián is 14 years old and Lucas is 11 years old.

Center for Languages & Intercultural Communication (CLIC)
MS 36, Rice University
6100 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77005

Phone: (713) 348-3156 E-mail: