Christina Frei

Executive Director of Language Instruction for the School of Arts & Sciences

Undergraduate Chair, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Academic Director, Penn Language Center; Adjunct Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education

714 Williams Hall
By appointment
(215) 898-5573
CV (file):


Ph.D., University of California at Davis in German with designated emphases in Second Language Aquisition and Feminist Theory and Research

Christina Frei specializes in constructivist curriculum design, intercultural communication, and diverse applications of technology for teaching and learning world languages and cultures. She regularly offers a course in Second Language Development (GRMN 516/EDU 670) and her signature course German Crime Novels (GRMN  352). In addition, she directs all courses in the two-year German language and culture program. As part of the Bachelor of Applied Science degree in LPS, she offers each Spring a required online course ICOM100: Intercultural Communication.  

Frei co-authored a textbook for introductory/intermediate German language and culture: Augenblicke, German through Film, Media and TextsPlease visit the website to learn about the approach to Augenblicke and view the authors' informative Welcome video. 

She received two national teaching awards recognizing her contributions to Language and Teacher Education: The 2017 AATG Outstanding German Educator Award and the 2017 ACTFL-NYSAFLT Anthony Papalia Award for Excellence in Teacher Education

She teaches regularly at the Middlebury Summer Language School where she offers courses ranging from Diversifying the German Curriculum, to Methods of Teaching German as a Foreign Language, Curriculum Planning and to Digital Pedagogy. Thus, teaching represents the most immediate and rewarding venue of combining research projects, application of technology and language education. She received the 2010 SAS Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching by Affiliated Faculty.

In her capacity as Executive Director of Language Instruction for the School of Arts & Sciences, she oversees language Instruction and the language education community across SAS, The Wharton Business School/Lauder Institute MBA/MA program, College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS), The Educational Linguistics Division of The Graduate School of Education and The School of Engineering and Applied Science. Thus, she is involved in sustained quality of language and culture instruction for more than 42 languages taught at Penn. 

Frei also chairs the Penn Language Center, home of many less commonly taught languages at Penn. In her role as educational leader she secured several grants: NEH, Fulbright and STARTALK. With the support of the Department of Education and the Institute for International Education (IIE), Frei conceptualizes and directs the Fulbright pre-semester orientation for foreign language teaching assistants. The PLC, secured a NEH grant for the EPIC initiative: Educational Partnerships with Indigenous Communities in collaboration with the late Dr. Timothy Powell. The grant aims to collaborate with tribal scholars and language educators to create sustained approaches to the teaching of language and culture based on indigenous knowledge systems.

Furthermore, Frei designed and implemented the curriculum of the language program at the Freie Universität Berlin international Summer and Winter University (FUBiS), the department's summer study-abroad venue and contributes regularly to curricular innovations at Penn's College of Liberal and Professional Studies and the Middlebury Language School.

Projects also include research in the affordances and efficacy of theme-based and constructivist curricular design for post-secondary language education. See her co-authored articles “Teaching Perspectives: Intercultural Development at All Levels” in The Language Educator, Jan/Feb 2018 and "Implications of the AP World Language Curriculum for University Language Programs" in AAUSC Volume 17, 2016.

Research Interests

Second language acquisition, curriculum design, digital pedagogy


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