Dr. Fernando Naiditch

Dr. Fernando Naiditch headshot

‌2011 was an amazing year for Dr. Fernando Naiditch, Assistant Professor in the Curriculum and Teaching department.  That year brought both tenure and a green card as an Outstanding Professor.  In fact, though, the seeds for both of these accomplishments were planted many many years ago in his native Brazil.

From an early age, Dr. Naiditch exhibited a natural gift for languages.  And his parents, who were born in Brazil of immigrant parents, encouraged Dr. Naiditch to develop this talent; in his home Portuguese, Yiddish and Spanish were spoken (today, he is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, English, Hebrew, French and Latin).  His parents considered themselves to be “citizens of the world,” and encouraged their children to travel internationally and learn about other cultures.  Dr. Naiditch followed this advice, picking up a fascination for foreign cultures.  As a result, as a young man, even before he earned his Bachelor’s degree, Dr. Naiditch accepted positions in Israel, Egypt, and Lebanon, teaching in bilingual education programs.  These experiences were something of a turning point in his life.  For Dr. Naiditch, languages were a window through which he could learn about foreign cultures; his twin passions for language and cultures were joined.

Given this background, it is not surprising that Dr. Naiditch chose to study Linguistics, earning his BA in that field in 1993 from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.  Two years later, he became an assistant professor in the Department of Applied Linguistics and Modern Languages, Faculdade Porto-Alegrese de Educacao, Ciencias e Letras, also in Brazil.  In 1995, Dr. Naiditch also became an Assistant Professor in the College of Arts and Letters, Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul. 

In 1998 Dr. Naiditch earned his Master’s degree in Second Language Acquisition from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, and in 1999 he traveled to the U.S. to pursue his PhD at NYU.  While studying at NYU, Dr. Naiditch served as an instructor/teacher/tutor in the New York City public schools, at the College of New Rochelle, and at NYU, always in the field of Second Language Education. 

After obtaining his PhD from NYU in 2006, Dr. Naiditch’s career as a scholar took off, leading quickly to international recognition in his field.  Since 2006, Dr. Naiditch has published conference proceedings, a book review, encyclopedic entries,  and top peer-reviewed papers.  His work has been presented at international symposia dozens of times.

Dr. Naiditch’s research has focused on the role of interculture in second language acquisition and education.  Research in this area goes beyond merely striving to understand linguistics and grammatical and lexical production.  It looks at how non-native American English speakers acquire and develop socio-cultural skills in order to communicate their meanings in the second language appropriately and adequately.  The goal of his work is to understand non-native speakers’ perceptions of different social situations they find themselves in and the factors that contribute to their assessment and performance in those situations.  He developed an assessment tool, the Cultural Relativity Scale (CRS), widely used in the field to measure acculturation as it relates to language use and perception.

Dr. Naiditch’s work has focused heavily on applying theoretical sociolinguistics to the real world.  He has translated the research into sound methodological practices for classroom teachers in culturally diverse school districts in New Jersey.  By way of example, he worked closely with the Bloomfield public schools to train teachers on using the SCR to assess students.  He then trained the teachers on how to address and adapt instruction to a diverse student population; he taught the teachers the principles of culturally responsive teaching, which makes use of students’ strengths in order to develop lessons that are culturally appropriate and linguistically adequate for the student population.  

Dr. Naiditch’s outstanding Curriculum Vitae, which includes publications, international presentations, awards, and service as a reviewer for internationally recognized journals, attracted the attention of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at MSU.  In 2007 MSU offered, and Dr. Naiditch accepted, a position as an Assistant Professor in that Department. Dr. Naiditch has continued to contribute to his field prolifically while at MSU.  

Reflecting on his very international life, Dr. Naiditch said that “while I am still not sure where home is, I do feel like I can live anywhere- I just love exploring new cultures, countries, and people from around the globe.”