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. (2019). “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”: Mapping my way through TESOL teacher education. Studying Teacher Education. DOI:10.1080/17425964.2019.1580026 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17425964.2019.1580026

Thomas, M. (2018). Harry Potter and the Border Crossing Analogy: An exploration of the instructional use of analogy in a TESOL methods course. The Teacher Educator, 53(3), 277-292. https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/utte20/53/3

Thomas, M. (2018). The Girl Who Lived: Exploring the Liminal Spaces of Self-Study Research with Textual Critical Partners. In , Castle Conference on Self-Study, 12 In Pushing Boundaries and Crossing Borders: Self-Study as a Means for Researching Pedagogy. , (pp. 327-333). https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/handle/1808/26630

Thomas, M. Russell, A. & Warren, H. (2018). The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Pedagogy in Harry Potter: An Inquiry into the Personal Practical Knowledge of Remus Lupin, Rubeus Hagrid, & Severus Snape. The Clearing House. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00098655.2018.1483152

Thomas, M. (2018). Trauma, Harry Potter, and the Demented World of Academia. Journal of Educational Thought (JET), 51(2), 184-203. https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/handle/1808/27450

» Show All Publications

Selected Presentations

Thomas, M. . (05/01/2018 -). Popular culture as a vehicle to shared, prior knowledge in an undergraduate teacher education course. The Center for Teaching Excellence Teaching Conference. Lawrence, KS

Thomas, M. & Carvajal-Regidor, M. . (10/31/2018). “Being ‘Lazy’ and Slowing Down” in an Evening Graduate Teacher Education Course". International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Bergen, Norway. Available Here

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. . (07/29/2016). "Victimization, signification and misrecognition in the deviantly curious case of internet sensation Antoine Dodson" . Poetics & Linguistics Society (PALA). Cagliari, Sardinia, Itlaly

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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