College of Liberal Arts

English Language Center (ELC)

Faculty and Staff

Administrators and faculty members of the ELC are professional educators dedicated to providing you an outstanding language learning experience in a caring and supportive environment. Faculty members hold graduate degrees in TESL, English, linguistics or related fields and have extensive experience teaching English as a second language. Many faculty members have taught in other countries and all have traveled abroad. They are aware of the challenges and complexities of learning a second language, and understand the variety of emotions students feel while living and studying in a foreign country.  They also know that language learning involves more than mastering the words and structure of a language, but also includes understanding the culture in which one lives.  All of the ELC staff - faculty, office administration and student workers - enjoy learning about other cultures as they help to make the students' experiences exciting, comfortable, and enriching. 

Lynda Mermell is the Director of the ELC. After earning her Masters Degree in TEFL/TESL from the American University in Cairo, Egypt in 1988, she joined the ELC as a classroom instructor before becoming the Associate Director in 1997.  Immediately prior to joining the ELC, Lynda worked with migrant farm workers and their children in New York State.  In the '70s , she was director of the Medical Records Department of the Yale University Health Plan and worked for the Harvard Community Health Plan in Boston.   From 1979-1983, she cycle toured in Europe, worked at a Swiss ski resort, lived and studied on an Israeli kibbutz,  traveled through Egypt., and worked on an organic farm.  During two years in the Peace Corps (1983-1985), Lynda taught gardening techniques, built latrines and cisterns and helped renovate a small hospital in Togo, West Africa.  Thanks to work she does with the Graduate School, Lynda has enjoyed several trips to China with her son. 


Lynda Mermell


Shelley Etzine has an ED/ESL Certificate from York University, Toronto and a Masters in TESOL from The New School in New York. She was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and attended the University of the Witwatersand the its Graduate School of Business Administration, earning a BA in English Literature and Music History and a post-graduate degree in Personnel Management and Training. Shelley began her career in adult education and training in South Africa, where she worked as a training manager in the business sector. Shelley has always been passionate about the arts, so she decided to pursue her dream to have a career in the arts, earning a degree in Arts Administration from the City University, London. She then had the privilege of working at the renowned Market Theater in Johannesburg before immigrating to the United States in 1986. After reestablishing herself, Shelley returned to education and has worked at the ELC since 1994. She became the Associate Director in 2003. Shelley loves working with college-aged students and learning about the cultures they represent. Her life has been enriched by the students she has had the privilege to meet. Her experiences living in three countries on two continents and studying abroad as an international student give her a first-hand understanding of the challenges international students face adjusting to life in a new culture. Shelley is married and has a son and daughter who are recent college graduates both pursuing careers in the arts in New York City.   



Shelley at ELC Towson Maryland
Shelley Etzine
Associate Director


Anne Colgan received her M.A. in TESL from Ohio University. She joined the ELC in 1993 and teaches listening, speaking, reading, and grammar. Before coming to the ELC, Anne lived and traveled in many interesting places, like Yemen, Turkey, Thailand, and Egypt, and she was born in Malaysia.  Her hobbies are traveling, reading, gardening and cooking.  Anne is passionate about the environment and will probably try to talk you into planting trees with her if you are in one of her classes.  She hates cars and usually rides her bike to school.  Every semester, Anne holds a student party at her house which she shares with three male roommates - her cats,  Kozzie, Baby, and Graham Cracker.



Anne Colgan


Mary Jo Lindeman has lived and traveled in many countries throughout the world because her parents were in the Foreign Service. The first of these was Colombia, which had a revolution while she was there. Other countries she has lived in include Brazil, India, Germany, and Mexico. She received her M.A. in Spanish from the University of Arkansas in 1980, and began teaching in the ELC in 1991. Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, she teaches listening, writing, grammar classes as well as a course in American culture. Her previous jobs include: working for the Voice of America in the Spanish/Portuguese section, doing research on the African slave trade, teaching Spanish and Portuguese, and being a Spanish interpreter at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas when the Mariel boat lift occurred in 1980 (where she met her husband, a public defender in Baltimore County)



MJ At ELC Towson Maryland
Mary Jo Lindeman


Mark McTague received his M.A. In TESL from the University of Hawaii in 1978 and his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990.  Mac has been teaching ESL since 1994, the past eight years here at Towson University. Mac has been teaching ESL since 1974, the past eight years here at Towson University. He never planned to become a language teacher, but he says life is surprising that way. What he likes best about teaching are the students, their personalities and humor. He also enjoys seeing their abilities in English develop.  When he's not teaching, however, he loves to read. With eclectic tastes in reading, he can't say that he likes any particular kind of writing. Whether it's science ( The Sea Beneath Us ), "serious" literature ( One Hundred Years of Solitude ), popular literature (Agatha Christie mysteries) or non-fiction ( The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power ), Mac loves to read for the simple reason that he loves to learn.  He also enjoys gardening, both vegetable and flower gardening. He gets a kick out of growing his own food, and he loves to grow flowers simply because they're beautiful, which is reason enough. His next big project, after he finishes renovating the inside of his house, is to get a 9-meter sailboat and sail down to Key West, Florida.


  Mac at ELC Towson Maryland
Mark McTague

Laurel Strassberger graduated from Salisbury State University in education, English and history, with a minor in French and has done graduate study in teaching reading at Towson University. She has taught English and history in middle school, family building through adoption to adults, and currently English as a second language in elementary school and in TU's English Language Center. Teaching young adults from other cultures has been particularly rewarding in offering her the opportunity to learn so much from and about them. Her belief is that increased understanding among cultures and nations can and must make for a more peaceful and tolerant world. Laurel has written two books on international adoption and edits a magazine on that subject. In some of her spare time, she works with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for families which need them and with various other relief and outreach efforts.



Laurel at ELC Towson Maryland
Laurel Strassberger


Denise Link-Farajali Since earning her Master's degree in TESOL from SUNY, Buffalo in 1982, Denise has taught literally every level and course in the world of ESL, including TOEFL, medical English, and business English at a variety of colleges in the Baltimore area for over 20 years. Happily married for nearly 10 years to an international, it seems that Denise sometimes teaches ESL 24 hours a day! It's a good thing that she loves it and languages so much; in fact, she speaks French and Russian and a bit of Kurdish and even Vietnamese. Languages come naturally to her as she's a trained singer and actress and enjoys using both to make her classes come alive. In the past, Denise has worked for the National Security Agency, the National Cryptologic School, Westinghouse Corporation,, and as a bilingual tour guide in New York State. When not working, Denise likes to travel, to cook gourmet (and international!) meals, to sew and garden, and to watch American TV and videos.



Denise at ELC Towson Maryland
Denise Link-Farajali


Sara Rose has an unusual educational background.  After high school, she decided to travel to experience a different party of the world.  Her journey took her to Copenhagen, Denmark where she lived and earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees.  She received her M.Ed. from Blaagaard Teacher College in 1981 in Danish, so she understand all too well the challenges of studying in a foreign language! In addition to Danish, Sara knows Swedish, Norwegian and Turkish, a motley assortment of languages for an American. Since earning her degree, Sara has taught English , directed an ESL program, worked with au pairs, been president of Maryland TESOL (an ESL professional organization), and most important of all,  raised a beautiful and talented daughter, Meryem, who was born in Denmark.    Besides teaching and traveling, Sara’s hobbies include reading, listening to all kinds of music, going to the movies, and spending time with her daughter, now a university student majoring in music.


Ronnie Tornow received her B.A at Penn State University in German and Education in 2001. Her plan was to be a German teacher but that all changed when she got a position teaching English in Germany, while she was studying there as an exchange student. After she graduated from Penn State she returned to Germany where she continued to teach English at both a private school and the University of Applied Sciences from 2001 to 2006. She then went on to receive her M.A.Ed in Adult Training and Education from Phoenix University in 2008. She taught at Baltimore City Community College for 5 years before coming to Towson in the summer of 2011. She has traveled to other countries including Great Britain, Iceland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Hungary and Turkey. She really enjoys learning about other cultures all well as reading, crafting, baking and cake decorating, and walking her dog Felix.










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Mary D. Edwards

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