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New 1:1 and small group classes starting each month. 
Offering in-person, virtual, and hybrid (in-person or remote) classes in 12 languages.
Celebrating our 20th year of bridging cultures and connecting communities.


Kim Andersen

Founder, Director, Spanish and English Instructor

In 2003, Kim took a “brief” hiatus from teaching public school. While staying home to raise her young children, she started a Spanish language program in Ballston Spa called, Las Mariposas. What began with one adult and one children’s class per week, quickly grew to several group and private Spanish classes. Before too long, more instructors joined the team, additional languages were being offered, the school’s name changed twice, finally settling on Capital Region Language Center (CRLC), and a second location opened in Colonie. That “brief” hiatus was 19 years ago. In addition to serving as the school’s director, Kim loves to travel, garden, spend time with family and friends, walk the dog, raise chickens, read, and do yoga. She hopes that you will consider joining the CRLC family either as an instructor or a student.

Founded CRLC in 2003

Cindy Choe

Korean Instructor

Cindy grew up in Seoul, Korea and completed a degree in Economics at the University of Toronto in Canada. As a TESOL-certified teacher, she taught English as a Second Language to Korean students of all ages from preschoolers to adult learners. She found it fascinating to see students’ progress and how they enjoyed learning about a new culture as well as a new language. She believes that learning about new culture and language open one’s mind to see things from a new perspective, and she’s looking forward to combining her language-teaching skills with her love of the Korean language and culture.

Team Member since 2022

Rebecca Antonucci

German Instructor

Rebecca is an avid language learner and teacher, a Certified Medical Interpreter and Translator, whose passion is traveling, interpreting and pretty much using languages every day of her life. She loves encouraging others to take on the challenge of learning new language and culture skills and focuses on taking what you learn and getting to put it to active use. She interprets, translates and teaches French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Haitian Creole, and has experience teaching those languages as well as German, Polish, Russian, American Sign Language and Arabic. Rebecca hopes to further her own knowledge in new languages and cultures, and hopes to motivate others to dive into a new language themselves and feel confident enough to speak with native speakers.

Team member since 2020

Gloria Batista

Spanish Instructor / Spanish Storytime

Gloria Batista was raised in New York City in a Spanish-speaking household and is bilingual. Her roots are Puerto Rican and Spanish. She received a B.S. from the University at Albany in political science with a Minor in Spanish and previously worked with the New York State Department of Labor where she translated and interpreted for Spanish speaking applicants. She loves teaching the preschool and elementary Spanish classes with Capital Region Language Center and makes her classes come alive with boundless energy.

Team member since 2006

Claudia Carlos

English, French, and Spanish Instructor

As the daughter of foreign language instructors, Claudia spent parts of her childhood in both Mexico and France, and was trilingual by the time she was 12.  Later on as an adult, she also studied in Paris and in Salamanca, Spain.  Although Claudia began her teaching career as a rhetoric and writing professor specializing in early modern French rhetoric, in 2012, she decided to change the focus of her teaching to English as a Second Language.  Her professional experience since that time has included teaching intensive English courses in the Capital Region. Claudia has an M.S. in TESOL from the University at Albany (2014) as well as a Ph.D. in Rhetorical Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2005).

Team member since 2021

JH Cho

Korean Instructor

JH Cho came from South Korea with her family in 2013 for her husband’s job. It was her first time living in another country and she didn’t yet speak much English. She first found Capital Region Language Center and Empire State English as a student and took English as a Second Language classes with ESE. Now, she can communicate with friends in the U.S. and from other countries and she continues to learn English and about American culture. JH has discovered that she loves to learn and loves to teach.

Team member since 2015

Bernadette Johnson

American Sign Language Instructor

Bernadette is a child of deaf adults (CODA) and began signing with her parents before she was able to speak.  As the oldest of two children, Bernadette was often engaged in the role of an interpreter while growing up.  Bernadette has a degree in education from SUNY Geneseo and has been teaching ASL in both the community and the post-secondary education arenas. Bernadette has also worked as an ASL interpreter in the education, court, and medical systems.  Bernadette has a love for ASL and is excited to share her first language with you.

Team member since 2021

Victoria Hogan

English Instructor

Victoria was born and raised in Upstate New York. Ever since she was a child, she knew she wanted to be involved in education. After hosting an exchange student during high school, she realized she was interested in helping other students study English in order to pursue their own goals. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Korean Studies from the University at Albany SUNY in 2020 and went on to earn her Master’s Degree in TESOL at Arizona State University. She also has experience studying abroad at South Korea’s Yonsei University. Victoria aims to make her classes personalized and engaging, making new connections between cultures.

Team member since 2021

Evelin Falciano

German Instructor

Evelin Falciano is a German native who relocated to the Capital Region in 2016. She is a trained German, ESL, and Philosophy teacher from the Dresden University of Technology. For 10 years she has been working with learners from all age groups and different kinds of language institutions. She loves meeting language students from all over the world, learn about their cultural background and help them to dive into new opportunities by teaching them German and English.

Team member since 2016

Nina Fleishman

English Instructor

Nina Fleishman has taught English as a Second Language in a variety of settings for more than 35 years. Prior to earning her M.S. in TESOL from SUNY Albany in 1983, she majored in French and Russian at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Nina has studied and traveled in Europe, Asia, and South America, and is fascinated by the relationship between language and culture. As an ESL teacher, she enjoys helping learners gain proficiency in English as well as an understanding of U.S. culture.

Team member since 2018

Nassra Hamid

Arabic Instructor

Nassra Hamid was born in Palestine and grew up in Jordan. She is a native Arabic speaker who has taught both children and adults in Amman and Kuwait. Her passion for teaching her mother tongue shows in her teaching. Nassra offers classes in Modern Standard Arabic and Levantine, her dialect.  She will customize her lessons to meet your needs. 

Team member since 2009

Rita Hausman

Latin and English Instructor

Rita Hausman is a NYS certified public school teacher of English with Masters degrees in Reading and English. She spends her days immersed in teaching English in fun and inspiring ways. Her love of reading and writing has helped her create engaging ESL lessons for children. A thematic, organized approach to teaching writing helps students from other countries produce papers and essays for a US audience. Rita’s commitment to the study of Latin stems from her love of the language’s powerful advantage in building grammatical and linguistic concepts. Rita understands and appreciates the importance of Latin to the English language as well as the Romance languages. In deeply enhancing the language learner in both grammar and rich vocabulary practice, Latin study offers a keen sharpening of the mind by building logical thinking skills.

Team member since 2010

Kayani Ilse

American Sign Language Instructor

Kayani Ilse’s inspiration and passion for American Sign Language began when her family adopted a deaf child. The joy she experienced learning and communicating in ASL blossomed into a deep love and respect for sign language and the deaf community. Kayani has earned both a Bachelor’s degree in American Sign Language Interpreting and a Master’s degree in Teacher Preparation with a concentration in Deaf Education. She has more than ten years of professional experience as an educational ASL interpreter. She is a credentialed K-12 teacher of the deaf. She believes learning should be fun, engaging, and authentic to each individual. Kayani is looking forward to sharing her love of ASL and deaf culture with you.

Team member since 2011

Sonya Kim

Korean Instructor

Sonya was born in the United States but raised in South Korea until she came back to the States for her graduate school. She holds a BA in History and English language & literature from Korea, and earned her MA in TESOL from the University of Pennsylvania. She volunteered teaching English, especially for adult immigrants, in a variety of settings while she was in Philadelphia. She also developed TOEFL prep books when she went back to Korea after she finished her studies in Philadelphia.  Sonya also works at Empire State English, CRLC’s sister school, as the Student Services Coordinator and a Designated School Official. 

Team member since 2019

Xuehan Liu

Growing up in an educator’s family in China, Xuehan developed her passion for teaching when she was young. She came to the United States to pursue graduate study and earned her doctorate in Language Education from Boston University in 2013. She also completed certification training in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages ( TCSOL) at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2010. Xuehan has had ten years of extensive Chinese teaching experience to learners at different levels, and in various settings including universities, language institutes, and elementary schools. She applies a learner-centered communicative approach to her teaching, creating a relaxing and cooperative environment in her classroom to make Chinese learning interesting and meaningful. Xuehan loves to share the intriguing beauty of Chinese language and culture with her students. In addition to spending time with her family, Xuehan enjoys reading, jogging, and Zumba.

Team member since 2021

Leila Marin

American Sign Language Instructor

Leila has been involved with the Deaf Community for 8 years. Her introduction into the Deaf Community was attending a total communication high school called “47” American Sign Language and English Secondary High School. This means she was surrounded by Deaf, Hearing, and Hard of Hearing students and faculty, and she graduated completely fluent. She has been spending her years in the Deaf community trying to build a bridge between the Deaf and Hearing communities. From interpreting, performing ASL Slam Poetry, signing at The United Nations General Assembly, and more, ASL and the Deaf Community are passions of hers that she has had since a young age.  She is looking forward to celebrating the passion that others have for learning ASL through her teaching. 

Team member since 2022

Annika Nerf

German Instructor

Annika Nerf grew up in Germany, speaking German at home. She laid the foundation for her foreign languages – English, Latin, French and Spanish – in German high school. Traveling and working in different European countries have allowed her to deepen her language skills. She has lived parts of her life in Scotland and the USA, where she now lives in a bilingual household. She is working towards her PhD in English and Creative Writing at SUNY Albany. She loves connecting with her students and teaching languages, particularly her native tongue German.

Team member since 2021

Tom Nygren

English Instructor

Tom Nygren has over ten years’ experience teaching ESL in a variety of colleges and universities, most recently at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to that, he spent three years teaching English at Sunway University in Malaysia. He worked with Afghan refugees in Pakistan for two years during the 1980s (he also spent part of his childhood in Pakistan). He loves meeting new people and learning about other cultures and has traveled extensively in Africa and Southeast Asia. Tom has a Master of Education in Teaching English as a Second Language from the College of New Jersey and a Master in Public Affairs from Princeton University.

Team member since 2021

Ping Qiu

Chinese and Japanese Instructor

Ping Qiu teaches Chinese and Japanese at CRLC. She is from China. She has been in the U.S. for 6 years and had lived in Japan for 11 years prior to that. She is fluent in Japanese and scored the highest possible level on the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Ping has taught Japanese and has a deep understanding of Japanese Culture. She has also been teaching Chinese, her mother tongue, for more than 8 years. She has taught Chinese to adults and elementary school-aged children. She has had a wide variety of teaching experience in 3 different countries and enjoys teaching one on one or small groups.

Team member since 2020

Miriam Rogers

Spanish Instructor

Miriam Rogers is a Spanish instructor at Capital Region Language Center. Miriam Rogers is originally from Peru where she was a college-level professor. She holds a certification in Teaching Spanish, a degree in Social Sciences and a Master’s degree in English Linguistics. She has been teaching for fifteen years. Her classes are fun and full of interaction. She feels that teaching is based on creating a welcoming environment where students feel comfortable and motivated to learn a new language.

Team member since 2019

Amy Smith

American Sign Language Instructor

Amy has a love and passion for teaching and working with the Deaf Community. She earned her Master’s Degree from Gallaudet University. She has worked as a Teacher of The Deaf for 6 years and has taught ASL to Middle and High School students for 5 years. She is a credentialed K-12 Teacher of the Deaf. Amy believes learning ASL is very exciting and enjoys sharing her love for the language with others. She looks forward to working in CRLC’s adult and children programs and sharing her passion of ASL with you.

Team member since 2020

Linda Wien

English Instructor

Linda Wien completed a CELTA degree through the University of Cambridge in 2006 and earned her MS TESOL degree from the University at Albany SUNY in 2013. In addition to teaching in the Capital region she has taught ESL in Honolulu, and as a volunteer in Guatemala and Nicaragua. She loves teaching people from a variety of cultures in diverse settings. Her passion for teaching ESL is evident in her abundant energy!

Team member since 2013

Sarah Straight

Administrative Assistant

Sarah grew up in New York State and studied linguistics and Spanish during university. Through her coursework and studying abroad she fell in love with language learning and travel. After graduating, she had the opportunity to work as an English language assistant in two different regions of Spain, Galicia and Valencia. This experience deepened her linguistic curiosity as she was able to learn two regional languages, Galego and Valenciano, in addition to improving her Spanish. She has discovered that learning new languages is possible with time, practice, patience, and perseverance, and she loves to study French and German in her free time.

Team member since 2022

Sabra Sanwal

French Instructor

Sabra was born in Canada and grew up speaking a mix of English, French and Hindi at home.  She has taught French for over 30 years in Canada and the US. As the daughter of university professors, she benefited greatly from living in Paris and India during her parents’ sabbaticals. The joy of being able to open the door to new cultures through language was the catalyst that led Sabra to study French language and literature and to become a teacher; sharing those eureka moments with her students when a grammar point becomes clear or the motivation of a character finally makes sense have allowed her to be a teacher and life-long student at the same time. She finds happiness in making French accessible to her students so they can apply their knowledge to discover who they are and also to navigate the varied francophone cultures of the world. She is available to teach adults and children ages 8 and up. 

Team member since 2022