Kristin Lems


Professor, ESL/Bilingual Education
Co-Director, ESL STEM Success Grant
(U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition)

Programs/Classes Taught:

ESL and Bilingual Education coursework, focus on literacy
Methods of Arts Education
English to Speakers of Other Languages all levels
Reading in the Content Areas

Areas of Expertise:

Teaching and Learning English as a New Language
Literacy in a New Language
Methods and Materials for Teaching ESL
English Word Formation
Literacy Best Practices
Reading Fluency Instruction
Using Music for Teaching Languages and Literacy
Arts-integrated Learning


Kristin Lems is an active scholar and leader within the National College of Education. In 2013, she was awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialist Award in EFL/Applied Linguistics, her second Fulbright, to work with English teachers at National University of Mongolia in Ulaanbataar, the capital, and spent 20 days there in October 2013. Lems co-directs a 5 year training grant from the U.S. Department of Education Office of English Language Acquisition. The ESL STEM Success Grant, awarded $1,764,177, provides expertise in teaching the STEM subjects to English language learners through coursework and work with 5 partners. Lems previously directed another Department of Education grant at National Louis (2004-2009), Building Community for English Language Acquisition, which partnered with DuPage County School Districts 4, 45, and 88.

Lems has co-authored or co-edited 5 books, 12 chapters, and many refereed articles on language, literacy and music related topics. Her textbook, Teaching Reading to English Language Learners:  Insights from Linguistcs (Lems/Miller/Soro, 2010, Guilford) will come out in a second edition in 2017.  Published articles appear in The Reading Teacher, Reading in a Foreign Language, Writing Systems Research, Learning Abstracts, English Teaching Forum, Booklinks, and an ERIC Digest.  Dr. Lems has offered half and full day institutes, workshops, and symposia at numerous conferences including the Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages, The International Literacy Association, National Council of Teachers of English, American Education Research Association, National Association for Bilingual Education, and others.

Lems was a Fulbright Scholar teaching teachers in Algeria, and is currently an English Language Specialist with the U.S. State Department. In that capacity, she worked with teachers of English in 2012 in Chile.

In addition, Lems is a published songwriter and recording artist. 

She also serves on the Evanston Environment Committee and coordinates the NLU Green Committee.


Ed.D., Reading and Language, National Louis University
M.A., Teaching English as a Second Language, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
M.A., West Asian Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
A.B.,  English/creative writing, Secondary Teaching certificate in English, University of Michigan

Research and Interests:

"The Fluent Reader in Action" presentation
Oral reading and fluency instruction
Video on jokes and wordplay
About reading fluency
Book on reading and linguistics

Recent Publications and Presentations

Lems, K.  (2016). American English webinar, Using Songs to Teach English, broadcast to 2000 English teachers worldwide.  A podcast of the webinar.  A blogpost about the project.
Lems, K.  (2016). Learning English through Music in the Digital AgeTESOL Video News.  Alexandria, VA:  Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Taguchi, E., Gorsuch, G., Lems, K., & Rozzwell, R. (2016). How repetition and an auditory model helps readers. Reading in a Foreign Language 28(1), 101-117.
Lems, K. & Stegemoller, J.  (2015). Unpacking the language of STEM for English language learners.  Learning Abstracts 18(4).
Lems, K.  (2015).  Woody Guthrie:  America’s Merry Prankster.  Woody Guthrie Annual v1.

Contact Information:


Kristin Lems, Ed.D.  
Co-Director, ESL STEM Success Grant
Professor, National Louis University
North Shore Campus 
5202 Old Orchard Rd., Skokie, IL 60077
224-233-2407 (phone/fax)


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of the city's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to six classrooms, this location features a conference room, a computer lab with high-speed Internet access, an extensive research library and comfortable student lounges.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
    Info » | Directions »