Who are we?

Alan Cienki – Professor of English Linguistics

Alan Cienki

Alan Cienki (PhD, Brown University, USA) is professor of English linguistics in the Faculty of Humanities at VU Amsterdam and is academic director of the ALP. He has taught BA and MA courses in English language and communication at the VU since 2006 as well as courses for the Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics (LOT). Before that, he worked at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, where he co-founded and directed the Program in Linguistics.

His research is based in cognitive linguistics and focusses on issues of what language use reveals about processes of conceptualization, with special attention to the use of metaphor and grammatical constructions from the perspectives of comparative and contrastive linguistics. Alan is director of the MA specialization at the VU in Multimodal Communication and is also founding director of the Multimodal Communication and Cognition Lab at Moscow State Linguistic University via a part-time secondment. (Foto: Riechelle van der Valk/Studio VU)

Gea Dreschler - Assistant professor of English Linguistics

Gea DreschlerGea Dreschler works as an assistant professor of English Linguistics in the Faculty of Humanities at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and is a member of the ALP Programme Committee. As programme manager, she is responsible for the English courses that the ALP offers as well as the Writing Centre. Gea received her PhD from Radboud University Nijmegen in 2015 and has extensive experience in teaching grammar and writing to students from a range of disciplines. She also has experience with non-directive coaching of students. She is a co-author of ALP's feedback website for English, ELS-online.

Gea’s research focuses on language change in English, both historical developments and more recent changes. She also does research on academic English and the teaching of academic writing, where her interests are in English as a lingua franca in academic contexts, as well as increasing the effectiveness of feedback on written work by students.

Ivet van der Eerden - programme manager Dutch courses and operational management

Ivet van der Eerden

Ivet van der Eerden is a member of the ALP Programme Committee and studied Dutch and General Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam. She then became a teacher of NT2 at the VU, after which she worked as manager at commercial language institutes and publisher at various educational publishers.
Since 2011 she has led the department of VU-NT2, part of the Faculty of Humanities at the VU. This department organises NT2 courses for highly educated non-Dutch speakers, offers teacher training and refresher courses for NT2 teachers, and develops NT2 teaching methods for all target groups and levels.
Together with Gea Dreschler, she is responsible for the day-to-day management of the ALP within the ALP Programme Committee, in particular for the Dutch courses (L1 and L2) and the operational management of the ALP.

Laura Rupp - Senior Lecturer in English Linguistics

Laura Rupp

Laura Rupp is associate professor of English Linguistics. Her teaching and research expertise is in Global English, grammatical language variation and change, and English pronunciation. She was awarded the VU Teaching Award for the quality of her teaching.
Laura Rupp is author of the books Uitspraakgids Engels voor Professionals (2013) and Pronunciation Matters (2014, with Rias van den Doel). In 2010 she organized the symposium ‘Accents of English’, which generated widespread publicity. 
In 2017 she received a grant from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science for the development of an English Pronunciation in a Global World MOOC . The MOOC runs twice a year on the online Future Learn platform and attracts approximately 10,000 participants from all over the world.


Margreet Onrust - Senior Lecturer in Language and Communication

Margreet Onrust

Margreet Onrust is Senior Lecturer in Language and Communication in the Faculty of Humanities at VU Amsterdam, and a member of the ALP Programme Committee. She has taught Dutch writing skills at the VU since 1990, to students in Humanities and other faculties. She has developed courses in communicative skills for various faculties of the VU and the University of Amsterdam, and is co-author of the Academic Skills Workbank.

Margreet does research into the effects that different formulations of the same message have on the quality of a text. She is author and co-author of various books on style and writing: Formuleren [‘Formulating’] (1993), Helder Schrijven [‘Writing clearly’] (1994) en Vermijd de naamwoordstijl! Over de houdbaarheid van een schrijfadvies [‘Avoid nominal style! On the viability of writing advice’] (2013). She is deputy chairperson of the Language Advice Consultation Committee of the Dutch Language Union, and has an ‘inspector’ role for the Stichting Toetsing Verzekeraars [‘Foundation for Insurer Testing’] as an assessor of the understandability and readability of texts produced by insurance companies.

Nel de Jong - Assistant professor of Applied Linguistics

Nel_de_JongNel de Jong in an assistant professor of Applied Linguistics at the Vrije Universiteit Faculty of Humanities. Her courses include second language acquisition and teaching, language testing and academic English writing. She has also taught a variety of courses of Dutch as a second language and she is one of the trainers in the training program for teachers of Dutch as a second language organized by the Vrije Universiteit and Hogeschool Windesheim. She is a co-author of the English Language Support Online website.
Nel’s research focused on second language acquisition and teaching of both English and Dutch as a second language. She was the principal investigator at a project at the University of Pittsburgh, in which she examined the development of fluency, complexity and accuracy in the oral performance of second language learners. In addition, she has worked on developing and evaluating vocabulary size tests for Dutch as a second language, and the relationship between vocabulary knowledge and language proficiency. She regularly publishes about her research in international scholarly journals and in national professional journals, such as LES and Vakwerk.

Maria Sherwood-Smith - Lecturer in Academic English

Maria Sherwood-SmithMaria Sherwood-Smith joined the ALP in 2018 and is also a lecturer in academic English at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences in Leiden (from 2013). She holds a BA in French and German from Trinity College Dublin, and a DPhil. in Medieval Languages from the University of Oxford. After temporary lectureships at the universities of Manchester and Oxford, she moved to the Netherlands in 1999 and was a postdoc at the VU until 2002. From 2003-2018, Maria was employed as a translator for the Dutch police. She also works as a freelance translator and language editor, mainly for academic publications; she has translated several monographs from German or Dutch to English.

Maria’s own research centered on vernacular authors’ use of Latin source texts produced in a university environment. This interest in the interface between scholarly discourse and a lay readership feeds into her teaching focus on effective research communication, especially to a wider audience.

Abby Gambrel - Lecturer in Academic English

Abby GambrelAbby Gambrel came to the VU from the United States, where she taught academic writing, creative writing, and English as a Second Language for over a decade. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from the University of California and a Master-level TOEFL certification from the University of Wisconsin. Abby provides various ALP courses for Social Science students in the Science and Social Science faculties and is also involved in the English Minor and in the VASVU program.  She especially enjoys classrooms with students from a wide array of language backgrounds.

In addition to teaching, Abby has acted as program and content developer for a new academic writing program at Cardinal Stritch University in the United States. In addition, she has worked on the editorial staff of several literary and academic journals and as a private tutor and writing coach. Abby is a published poet, playwright, and essayist.

Robin Straaijer - Lecturer in Academic English

Robin StraaijerRobin Straaijer mostly teaches Academic English. He studied English language and literature, as well as chemistry at the University of Amsterdam, where he specialised in sociolinguistics, stylistics and bio-organic chemistry. In 2011, Robin received a PhD in the area of historical English grammars from Leiden University, where he continued as a postdoc to research English usage guides, building a database of English usage problems and teaching in late modern English and the language of Jane Austen. Besides this, Robin also works as a freelance teacher of Academic English.