Carnegie Mellon University

Mariana Achugar

Mariana Achugar

Professor of Hispanic Studies and Second Language Acquisition

Address Department of Modern Languages
Carnegie Mellon University
Baker Hall 160
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


As an applied linguist interested in exploring the social nature of language and its connection to communities, identity and social practices my research focuses on critical discourse studies that investigate two areas: the role of language in the construction of social practices and the role of language in the construction of an academic identity. My work deals with how discursive practices signal and contribute to cultural change. In particular, I look at language and social practices as dynamic processes that change through time in response to feedback from the environment. My work attempts to make a contribution to the understanding of cultural reproduction and change focusing on the role language plays in socialization experiences in educational and non-educational contexts. This interdisciplinary approach to researching language has made it possible for me to collaborate with researchers in education, sociology and history while expanding my understanding of complex social and cultural phenomena. My research has been funded by several external-funding agencies: the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council.

As a teacher I have taught ESL, Spanish and Spanish as a heritage language at the secondary, university and adult education level in the US and Latin America. In all of my courses, be it beginning language courses or graduate level courses, my goal is to provide students with the opportunities to develop the skills, knowledge, awareness and attitudes necessary to participate in a multicultural society and in an interconnected global landscape. In my teaching, I aim to co-construct with students a learning environment where we can explore ideas, learn about language, culture and theory while critically reflecting on our role as citizens and researchers. Teaching provides me with an opportunity to continue learning by reflecting on my practice and being up to date with the latest production in the field.


University of California, Davis, 2002

Selected Work

  • Achugar,M. & Carpenter, B. (2014) Tracking movement toward academic language in multilingual classrooms. Journal of English for Academic Purposes (14): 60–71.
  • Achugar, M., Fernández, A. & Morales, N. (2013) Re/constructing the past: how young people remember the Uruguayan dictatorship. Discourse & Society.Volume 24 Issue 3, pp. 263 - 286.
  • Achugar, M. & Carpenter, B. (2012) Developing disciplinary literacy in a multilingual history classroom. Linguistics and Education 23 (3):262-276.
  • Achugar, M., Fernández, A. & Morales, N. (2011) (Re)presentando el pasado reciente: la última dictadura uruguaya en los manuales de historia. Discurso & Sociedad 5(2), 196-229.
  • Achugar, Mariana & Stainton, Catherine (2010) “Learning history and learning language: Focusing on Language in Historical Explanations to Support English Language Learners”. In M.K. Stein & L. Kucan (eds.) Instructional Explanations in the Disciplines,pp.145-169. New York: Springer
  • Achugar, Mariana (2009) “Remembering and explaining a traumatic past: the Uruguayan military’s narrative about the dictatorship”. Invited contribution to special issue edited by J.E. Richardson & Ruth Wodak of Critical Discourse Studies. 6(4), 283-295.
  • Achugar, Mariana. (2009) “Constructing a bilingual professional identity in a graduate classroom”. Journal of Language, Identity and Education 8(2&3), 65-87.
  • Achugar, M. & S. Pessoa (2009) “Power, history and place: language attitudes towards Spanish in a bilingual academic community in Southwest Texas”. Spanish in Context 6(2), 199-223.
  • Achugar, M. & T. Oteíza (2009) “In whatever language people feel comfortable”: conflicting language ideologies in the U.S. Southwest border. Text & Talk 29-4, pp. 371-391.
  • Achugar, M. (2009) Designing environments for teaching and learning history in multilingual contexts. Invited contribution in a special issue on Education and Immigration edited by Leigh Patel Stevens. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, 6(1-2):39-62.
  • Achugar, M. (2008) What we remember: The construction of memory in military discourse. Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture Series. General Editors: Ruth Wodak and Greg Myers, University of Lancaster.John Benjamins Publishing Company.
  • Achugar, Mariana & Cecilia Colombi (2008) “Systemic Functional Linguistic Approaches to Longitudinal Studies of Spanish Heritage Learners”. Chapter 3, In Ortega, L. & H. Byrnes (eds.), pp,36-57.The Longitudinal Study of Advanced L2 Capacities. New York: Routledge.
  • Achugar, M., Schleppegrell, M.J. and Oteíza, T. (2007) “Engaging teachers in language analysis: a functional linguistics approach to reflective literacy”. Teaching English: Practice and Critique, 6(2):8-24.
  • Achugar, M. & M.J. Schleppegrell (2005) “Beyond connectors:The construction of cause in history textbooks”. Linguistics and Education, 16 (3), 298-318.
  • Schleppegrell, M.J., M. Achugar & T.Oteíza (2004) “The grammar of history: enhancing content-based instruction through a functional focus on language”. TESOL Quarterly Vol. 38, No.1, Spring. Pp.67-93.

Courses Taught

82-885          Qualitative Research Methods in SLA
82-781          Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics
82-840/880   Social and Cognitive Aspects of Bilingualism
82-870          Analyzing Language in a Global Context
82-444          Discourse Analysis in Spanish
82-343          Latin America: Language and Culture
82-345          The Spanish Language Today: Sociolinguistic Approaches
82-345          Immigration and Exile
82-456          Representation of Social Conflict in Latin American Cinema

Department Member Since