Photos courtesy of LJ Randolph

Dr. LJ Randolph, Jr. is Assistant Professor of World Language Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to coming to Madison in 2022 with his wife and daughter, Randolph was Associate Professor of Spanish Education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. 

In his research, he focuses on heritage learners of Spanish, that is, students who have grown up exposed to Spanish in their families and communities. He is also interested in implementing critical pedagogy in language teacher education and language classrooms as a way to create a transformative language education for all students, particularly those with marginalized linguistic and/or racial identities. 

Randolph has spent the majority of his life in North Carolina. He began taking Spanish in his sophomore year in high school and became enamored with the idea of learning a new language. Despite his affinity for languages, Randolph enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to become a mathematics teacher. But he could not ignore the hold that language had on him. He switched to a double major in Linguistics and Romance Languages with a concentration in Spanish. He later returned to UNC Chapel Hill to completed his doctorate.

Instead of becoming a math teacher, Randolph taught Spanish and English as a second language to high school students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He also organized study abroad trips around the world as directory of his school’s Academy of International Studies. Randolph also held the distinction of holding a National Board Certification in Teaching World Languages Other than English. Only 4% of teachers nationwide are National Board Certified.

In November 2022, Randolph was named President-Elect of ACTFL (founded as the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages). ACTFL is a national professional organization for language educators. It advocates for high quality teacher education and professional development for language teachers and research that addresses equitable access to language education. This year, Randolph is serving his term as president of the organization. 

As ACTFL President, Randolph represents the organization publicly, manages the execution of its strategic plan, and attends meetings of regional and national affiliates. In fact, he has spent nearly every weekend this spring traveling to different regional meetings around the country. The climax of his presidential year will be the 2024 ACTFL National Convention in Philadelphia in November. The conference boasts opening and closing keynotes by actress Sheryl Lee Ralph and musician Blessing Offor, respectively. Randolph will also present several professional awards to deserving language educators, including the ACTFL Teacher of the Year.