Professor Thompson has an extensive history of working with less commonly taught languages, including Shona, Swahili, and Arabic. As a graduate student, she used self-instructional methods to learn Shona, a Bantu language, which she then used during doctoral fieldwork in Zimbabwe. During her time as a faculty member at UCLA, Professor Thompson taught a course called Experiential Language Learning. The course exposed students to various theories of language acquisition, which they then tested out by applying them in their own self-guided language study. She is currently Professor and Chair of African Cultural Studies, and the Director of the Program in African Languages at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
When she moved from UCLA to UW-Madison in 2013, Professor Thompson created the Multilanguage Seminar to allow students to study African languages beyond those considered part of UW’s standard offerings. The seminar allows highly motivated students to apply language acquisition theories and their personalized language learning styles to find or develop the necessary resources to study virtually any language. Students also develop important skills like how to work with expert speaker of the language they are learning. Professor Thompson is excited to see the program expand into a summer offering and to include less commonly taught languages from around the world.