Degrees: M.A. and P.hD. in Hispanic Lingusitics, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Lingüísticos y Literarios, México, D.F. B.A. in Psychology, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F.
Research Interests: Spanish as a heritage language and Pedagogy, Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy; Child Language Development and Bilingualism; Latino Families and Immigration; Immigration and Education
Dr. María Luisa Parra has a B.A. in Psychology, a Ph.D in Hispanics Linguistics and fifteen years of experience in the fields of Second Language Acquisition and Child Bilingual Development. She has taught Spanish Language and Culture at Boston University and in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard, where she is currently Senior Preceptor and course head of Spanish Aa, Spanish Ab and Spanish 59 "Spanish and the Community".
She is pioneering the Spanish courses for Latino students Spanish 49h ("Spanish for Latino students") and 59h ("Spanish for Latino Students II: Connecting with the Community). And she is the coordinator of the RLL's Initiative on the teaching of Spanish as heritage language
She also has broad experience working closely with immigrant families and children. She was coordinator of the Home-School Connection Program at the Elliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University where she looked at the various ways in which parents and teachers supported transitions, school adaptation and academic success. In 2008 she continued and expanded her work as a post doctoral fellow at Stanford University School of Education working with Mexican and African American children attending East Palo Alto public schools. Based on an ecological theoretical model, Dr. Parra's work focuses on how parents and teachers impact bilingual development through daily interactions.
A native Spanish speaker from Mexico City, and a mother of two bilingual and bicultural teen age boys, Dr. Parra has always been fascinated by the complexities and joys of bilingual development. She enjoys working with parents, teachers and pediatricians in training who seek to understand and enhance the road to multilingualism. She is the founder and director of the Multilingual Family Resource Center.
Dr. Parra is also co-director with Prof. Davíd Carrasco of the Graduate Commons Program, Harvard University.