Faculty Directory

Maria Estela Brisk

Professor Emerita


TCS Teaching, Curriculum, and Society


For decades, Maria Brisk’s work has focused on language and education—individually and where they intersect. Teaching since the mid 1960s, her expertise has centered on how literacy and bilingualism are developed.

After joining the Lynch School in 1999, Brisk served as Chair of the TESpECI Department from 2007–2012. She uses systemic functional linguistics to teach writing and implement genre-based pedagogy, most recently and successfully at Russell Elementary School.

Brisk earned her first degree from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina, her master’s degree from Georgetown University, and her doctorate from the University of New Mexico. She recently won the AERA Bilingual Research SIG Lifetime Achievement Award and was appointed chair of the 2018 International System Functional Congress.

Her illustrious career includes dozens of book and scholarly journal publications, as well as speaking engagements around the world. Brisk has been a translator, Spanish instructor for the U.S. Peace Corps, and even served as an expert witness on several court cases on desegregation and bilingual education. She was a long-standing member of the Board of Editors for the Bilingual Research Journal.



  • Brisk, M. E. (2015). Engaging Students in Academic Literacies: Genre-based Pedagogy for K-5 Classrooms. New York: Routledge.
  • Brisk, M.E., Ed.  (2008).  Language, culture, and community in teacher education.  Mahwah, N.J.:  Lawrence Erlbaum Associate (for the American Association of College for Teacher Education).
  • Brisk, M.E. & Harrington, M. M. (2007). Literacy and bilingualism: A handbook for all teachers. Second Edition Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Brisk, M.E. (2006). Bilingual Education: From compensatory to quality schooling. Second Edition. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Menyuk, P. & Brisk, M.E. (2005). Language Development and Education: Children with Varying Language Experiences. Hampshire, U. K.: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Brisk, M. E., Burgos, A., & Hamerla, S. (2004). Situational Context of Education: A Window into the World of Bilingual Learners. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Articles, Book Chapters, Monographs

  • Brisk, M.E. & Kaveh, M.Y. (forthcoming) Mainstream Teachers for Successful Multilingual Classrooms: The Case of a School that Embraced a Genre-based Pedagogy to Teach Writing. In S. Hammer & K. M. Viesca. Multilingual learners: What teachers should, do and will know - an international comparison. N.Y.: Routledge. 
  • Brisk, M.E. & Ossa-Parra, M (in press). Mainstream Classrooms as Engaging Spaces for Emergent Bilinguals: SFL theory, Catalyst for Change. In R. Harman (Ed.), Critical Systemic Functional Linguistics: Promoting Language Awareness and Social Action among K-12  Students and Teachers. N.Y.:Springer.
  • Brisk, M.E. (2016). Multimodal reports in elementary school classrooms. In M.F. Alexandre & C.A.M. Gouveia (Eds.), Theory, application, analysis: Studies in systemic functional linguistics. Lisbon, Portugal: CELGA-ILTEC.    
  • Brisk, M. E. (2016). Genres in writing collaborative project. In H. de Silva Joyce & S. Feez, Exploring literacies: Theory, research and practice (pp. 287-292). Basingstoke, UK and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Brisk, M.E., Kaveh, M.Y., Scialoia, P., & Timothy, B. (2016).  Writing Arguements: The Experience of Two Mainstream Teachers Working with Multilingual Students. In C.P. Proctor, a. Boardman, & F. Hiebert, English Learners and Emergent Bilingualism in the Common Core Era". N. Y.: Guilford Press.
  • Brisk, M. E., Nelson, D., & O’Connor, C. (2016).  Bilingual fourth graders develop a central character for their narratives. In L. de Oliveira & T. Silva (Eds.), L2 Writing in Elementary Classrooms (pp.88-105). New York: Palgrave/MacMillan.
  • Brisk, M. E. (2016). Genres in writing collaborative project. In H. de Silva Joyce & S. Feez, Exploring literacies: Theory, research and practice (pp. 287-292). Basingstoke, UK and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Brisk, M. E. & Proctor, C. P. (2015)  in Common Core, Bilingual and English Language Learners: A Resource for Educators, edited by Valdés, Menken, and Castro 
  • Brisk, M. E., de Jong, E. J. & Moore, M. C. (2015). Primary School Bilingual Education: Pedagogical Issues and Practices. In W. E. Wright, S. Boun, & O. Garcia (Eds.) Handbook of Bilingual and Multilingual Education (319-335). West Sussex, U.K: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Brisk, M.E. & De Rosa, M. (2014). Young Writers' Attempts At Making Meaning Through Complex Sentence Structures While Writing a Variety of Genres. In L. de Oliveira and J. Iddings (Eds.),Genre Pedagogy Across the Curriculum: Theory and Application in U.S. Classrooms and Contexts (pp. 8-24). London: Equinox.
  • Danielo, F; Turgut, G., & Brisk, M. E. (2014). Applying Systemic Functional Linguistics to Build Educators’ Knowledge of Academic English for the Teaching of Writing in Mahboob, A. & Barret, L. (Eds.). Englishes in Multilingual Contexts (pp. 183 - 204) . London: Springer.
  •  Brisk, M.E. (2012). Young bilingual writers’ control of grammatical person in different genres. Elementary Education Journal112, 445-468.
  • Brisk, M. E. & Proctor, C.P. (2012). Challenges and supports for English language learners in bilingual programs. Understanding Language: Language, Literacy, and Learning in the Content Areas. Stanford University. http://ell.stanford.edu/papers/policy
  • Brisk, M. E., Hodgson-Drysdale, T., O’Connor, C. (2011).  A study of a collaborative instructional project informed by systemic functional linguistic theory:  Report writing in elementary grades.  Journal of Education, 191, 1-12.
  • Brisk, M.E. (2011). Learning to Write in the Second Language: K – 5. In E. Hinkel (Ed.) Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning volume II, pp. 40 – 56, New York: Routledge.
  • Clayton, C. & Brisk, M.E. (2011). It’s my responsibility! Teacher of bilingual learners in an English-immersion context.  In B.B. Flores, R. Hernández Sheets and E. C. Clark (Eds.) Teacher preparation for bilingual student populations: Educar para transformar (pp. 182- 187). New York: Routledge.
  • Brisk, M.E. & Zisselsberger, M. (2011). “We’ve Let Them in on the Secret:” Using SFL Theory to Improve The Teaching of Writing to Bilingual Learners.  In T. Lucas (Ed.) Teacher preparation for linguistically diverse classrooms.  A resource for teacher educators, pp. 111-126, New York: Routledge.
  • Brisk, M. E. (2010).  Learning English as a second language.  In M. Shatz &L.C. Wilkinson (Eds.). The education of English language learners (pp.?). New York:  Guilford Publications.
  • Homza, A., Páez, M., Brisk, M. E., & Proctor, P.  (2008). From language to literacy: Reading and Writing for English language learners in sheltered elementary classrooms.  Chestnut Hill, MA: Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Boston College. [Prepared for the Mass DESE]
  • Stevens, L. P., Jefferies, J., Brisk, M. E., & Kaczmarek, S. (2008). Linguistics and science learning for diverse populations: An agenda for teacher education. In K. Bruna & K. Gomez (Eds.), Talking science, writing science: The work of language in multicultural classrooms, pp.291-315. New York: Heinemann.
  • Brisk, M.E., Horan, D., & MacDonald, E. (2008).  Scaffolding teaching and learning to write:  The rhetorical approach.  In L.S. Verplaetse & N. Migliacci (Eds.), Inclusive pedagogy:  Research informed practices for linguistically diverse students.  Mahwah, N.J.:  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) ELL Task Force (April, 2006).  NCTE positions paper on the role of English teachers in educating English language learners (ELLs).  Retrieved 5/10/06 from http://www.ncte.org/
  • Wright, W.E., Brisk, M.E., Sanchez, M.T., & Commins, N.L. (2006).  What are the state mandates for educating English language learners?  In Hamanyan, E. & Freeman, R. (Eds.).  English language learners at school:  a guide for administrators (pp.10-15).  Philadelphia:  Caslon.
  • Costa, J. McPhail, G., Smith, J. & Brisk, M.E. (2005).  Faculty first:  The challenges of infusing the teacher education curriculum with scholarship on English language learners.  Journal of Teacher Education, 56, 104-118.
  • Brisk, M.E. (2005).  Bilingual Education.  In Eli Hinkel (ed.).  Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning.  Mahwah, NJ:  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • MacDonald, E. & Brisk, M. E. (2004). Planning for writing: Defining purpose, audience, and topic with English language learners. School Talk, 9 (4), 2-5.
  • Sánchez, M.T. & Brisk, M.E. (2004). Teachers' Assessment Practices and Understandings in a Bilingual Program. NABE Journal of Research and Practice, 2, 1, pp. 193-214. Download the complete article. 
  • Pierce, M. S., & Brisk, M. E. (2002). Sharing the bilingual journey: Situational autobiography in a family literacy context. Bilingual Research Journal, 26(3), 575-597.
  • Torres-Guzman, M.E., Abbate, J., Brisk, M.E., & Minaya-Rowe, L. (2002). Defining and documenting success for bilingual learners: A collective case study. Bilingual Research Journal, 26 (1), 21-42.
  • Brisk, M.E. Dawson, M., Hartgering, M., MacDonald, E., & Zehr, L., (2002).  Teaching Bilingual Students in Mainstream Classrooms.  In Beykont, Z (Ed), The power of culture.  Cambridge, MA:  Havard Education Publishing Group)
  • Brisk, M.E. (1998). Bilingual Education: From compensatory to quality schooling. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Guest Edited Journals

  • With C.P. Proctor.  Special Issue: Educación y Bilingüismo. Miríada Hispánica, Vol. 10, Spring 2015
  • Special Issue, Language Policy and Education, Part 1 (2005).  Educational Policy, 19(4)
  • Special Issue, Language Policy and Education, Part II (2005).  Educational Policy, 19(5).
  • Special Issue, Highlighting Success in Bilingual Education (2002).  Bilingual Research Jorunal, 26(1).

Book Reviews

  • Brisk, M.E. (2008).  Book Review. Xoan Paula Rodriguez-Yanez, Anxo M. Lorenzo Suarez & Fernando Ramallo, General Eds.  Gabrielle Varro, F. Xavier Vila I Moreno & Angel Huguet Canalis, Partial Eds. Bilingualism and Education:  From the Family to the School.  International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 11(2).