M'Balia Thomas

School of Education - Curriculum & Teaching
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching. Major: Language Use, Minor: Linguistic Analysis, University of Arizona
Primary office:
Joseph R. Pearson Hall
Room 308
University of Kansas
1122 West Campus Rd
Lawrence, KS 66045

M’Balia B. Thomas, Assistant Professor of TESOL, joined the KU faculty in the fall of 2014. Dr. Thomas holds a PhD in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching from the University of Arizona. As a Critical Applied Linguist Dr. Thomas engages in scholarship that investigates “real-world problems” related to language (what it is, what it is not, and how it evolves), language learning (rather than the science of language acquisition), and language use (the socio-culturally accepted ways of using language). Her work is “transdisciplinary” and international in scope, drawing from the fields of Sociology, English, Linguistics, and Anthropology and incorporating three distinct approaches to scholarship: empirical, theoretical and philosophical, and scholarship of teaching and learning. Finally, given her concern for “real-world problems” surrounding language use, her courses often reference popular culture texts to illuminate issues of power and ideology, and the impact these have upon learners.


Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching. Major: Language Use, Minor: Linguistic Analysis, University of Arizona

M.A., Advertising, Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid

A.B., Sociology, with Honors, Stanford University



C&T 896 The Internationalized Curriculum

C&T 818 Language, Discourse and Ideology

C&T 817 Contact, Change & American English

C&T 491/825 TESOL Practicum / Advanced TESOL Practicum

C&T 331 Instructional Approaches to TESOL in Middle/Secondary


Critical and social theoretical approaches to topics in SLA and Applied Linguistics; Harry Potter Studies and Teacher Edcuation

Selected Publications

Thomas, M. (2016). A Dialogic Approach to Supervision in the Practicum ATE-K The Advocate. ATE-K, 23(2).

Thomas, M. (2015). Linguist List [Review of the book The Unspeakable: Narratives of Trauma, M.Stroinska, V. Cecchetto, K. Szymanski (eds)]. Linguist List, https://linguistlist.org/issues/26/26-3788.html. https://linguistlist.org/issues/26/26-3788.html

Thomas, M. (2014). A Dialogic Approach to Oral Narrative Storytelling Analysis in English as a Foreign Language Research. Proquest

Waugh, L. Aldemar Alvarez, J. Do, T. Michelson, K. & Thomas, M. (2013). Chapter 27: Meaning in texts and contexts. In . (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of the History of Linguistics.

Thomas, M. (2013). The problematization of racial/ethnic minority student participation in US study abroad. Applied Linguistics Review, 4(2), 365-390.

Thomas, M. (2009). WORDS AS WEAPONS: The metaphorical attack of Michelle Obama in US print headlines (A critical discourse analysis). In Proceedings of the Symposium on Language and Society in Austin (SALSA), (pp. 39-49). Austin, TX.

» Show All Publications

Selected Presentations

Thomas, M. Fox, M. Russell, A. & Warren, H. . (02/10/2018 - 02/10/2018). The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Teaching in Harry Potter: The role of “Personal Practical Knowledge” in assessing teacher quality . Southwest Popular/American Culture Association. Albuquerque, NM. Available Here

Thomas, M. . (02/09/2018). Trauma, harry potter & the demented world of academia. Southwest Popular/American Culture Association. Albuquerque, NM

Thomas, M. . (10/18/2017). "Space, Place, & Race in Antoine Dodson's 'Bed Intruder': A Stylistic Analysis". Wichita State University Language and Linguistics Colloquium Series. Wichita, KS

Thomas, M. . (10/02/2017). "Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL): The 'Pragmatism' of Documenting and Assessing Teaching and Learning". Women in Educational Leadership Conference. Lincoln, NE. Available Here

Thomas, M. & Fox, M. E. (09/29/2017). "Teaching TESOL Methods through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter". MidTESOL Conference. Kansas City, MO

Thomas, M. . (07/31/2017). "Space Invasion: A Text World Appraoch to Exploring Language, Race and Space in 'Bed Intruder'". Special Interest Panel: African and Diasporic Literatures. Poetics and Linguistics Association (PALA). West Chester, PA

Thomas, M. . (02/15/2017). Literature and the Advancement of Human Rights in TESOL Education: Capitalizing on student empathy toward the Harry Potter Universe in Pre-service Teacher Education. Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (SWPACA). Albuquerque, NM

Selected Grants

Thomas, M'Balia, (Principal), The Greater Good: Engaging with K-12 Content-Based TESOL Methods through the Harry Potter Wizarding World., $5,122, (07/01/2017 - 06/30/2018) . State of Kansas. Status: Funded.

Thomas, M'Balia, (Principal), Internationalizing Higher Education for International Student "Success": A study of Metaphor in Short Story Narratives of International Students at a midwest University, $6,535, Submitted 02/01/2016 (05/15/2016 - 08/31/2017) . Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded.

Thomas, M'Balia, (Principal), Ethnographic Study of Instruction and Assessment within the Citizenship Education Program of a local Religious-based Organization in Kansas City., $7,931, Submitted 07/06/2015 (09/01/2015 - 04/30/2017) . State of Kansas. Status: Funded.

Thomas, M'Balia, (Principal), Transgressive Classroom Talk and the Pursuit of a Dialogic Stance in the English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Practicum Observation, School of Education, Submitted 01/01/2015 (05/15/2015 - 12/31/2015) . To complete one manuscript to submit for publication in the early Fall 2015. University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded.

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