Sarah Tahtinen-Pacheco

Job Titles

  • Department Chair
    Languages and Cultures College of Arts and Sciences
  • Professor of TESL
    Education, College of Arts and Sciences


Over 30 years experience in teaching & research in: Teacher Education, Bilingual-Bicultural and Languages and Cultures Ed.; Pre-K - Adult, Curriculum, Assessment, and Instructional Design, ESL/Bilingual/Foreign Language Program, Development & Evaluation, Faculty Development/Teaching Mentor, and Doctoral/Masters Thesis Advisor. Co-creator of the TOCCA (Task-Oriented, Community-Centered Acquisition)model.

Started at Bethel



  • Minnesota State University - B.S. in Education, 1987
  • University of Wisconsin - M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction, 2001
  • University of Minnesota - Ph.D. in Second Languages and Cultures, 2008


Dr. Tahtinen-Pacheco graduated from the University of Minnesota with a doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction with emphasis in Second Languages and Cultures. She received a master's degree in Bilingual-Bicultural Education from the University of Wisconsin and taught for many years in the areas of ESL, Bilingual, Adult/Family ESL, EFL (in Ecuador and Cambodia), Early Childhood, and Spanish. She has experience in program administration and program assessment serves as Professor and Department Chair for the Department of Languages, Cultures, and Reconciliation Studies at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. At Bethel, Dr. Tahtinen-Pacheco directs the TESL/TEFL (Teaching English as a Second Language/ Teaching English as a Foreign Language) programs and teaches graduate-level and undergraduate courses in Linguistics, ESL, and World Languages. She also served 4 years as Teaching Mentor for the University Faculty Development team. Her research interests focus on improving pedagogy for English learners, bilingual-bi-cultural education, service-learning, and second language acquisition. She has presented research at several conferences including; Education Minnesota, MinneTESOL, and the Minnesota ESL, Bilingual, and Migrant Ed. Conference; hosted by the Department of Education.  Most recently, leading a team of researchers to create the TOCCA (Task-oriented, Community-centered Acquisition) model for learning new languages, currently implemented in courses at Bethel University.

Courses Taught

At Bethel University, St. Paul, MN              

  • EDU400: Methods in Teaching K-12 English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • EDU401: Middle Level Practicum in TESL
  • EDU426: Methods in Teaching K-12 World Languages and Cultures
  • EDU426: Middle Level Practicum in World Languages
  • EDU490: Student Teaching Supervision in ESL, Spanish, and French
  • EDUC657: Language, Literacy, and Cultural Diversity
  • EDUC683: Methods in Teaching World Languages and Cultures, K-12
  • EDUC764: Intensive Training for Integrating Special Education & English Language Learners (ELL)
  • LIN210: Introduction to Second Language Acquisition
  • SPA101: Introductory Spanish I
  • TEL240: TESOL Practicum Abroad
  • TEL301: Analysis of the English Language
  • TEL305: Teaching Language Communication Skills for Second Language Learners
  • TEL320: Curriculum, Materials Development, and Assessment (on-line)
  • TEL491: Internship in TEFL

At University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

  • CI 5696 Teaching World Languages and Cultures in Elementary Schools
  • CI 5697 ESL in the Elementary Schools
  • CI 5698 Student Teaching in Second Languages and Cultures
  • CI 5699 Clinical Experiences in Second Languages and Cultures (Secondary)

At University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, WI                    

  • Flg 378/778 Second Language Acquisition Theory
  • ES 408/608 Content-based ESL Methods

At University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, WI

  • CIGNERL 435/635: Language Acquisition for the Bilingual Child
  • CIGNERL 455/655: Teaching Content in the Bilingual Classroom


Scholarly Services and Awards

2010-2013 President, MinneTESOL Teacher Interest Section.

2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 received recognition, for excellence in teaching, from the IDEA evaluations for being rated in the top 10% nationally of classes.

Fall 2006, received the STAR AWARD from the Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures (MCTLC) for excellence in teaching, volunteering, and research.

Fall 2004-2006, served on the board of directors for the Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures.

Fall 2004, served on a team that developed the TEALS (Test of Emerging Academic English) assessment for the state of MN.

Spring 2004, Reviewed research proposals for the International Second Language Teacher Education Conference.

2003 to present, I was appointed by the Minnesota Department of Education to serve as an ELL Expert Consultant for the state of Minnesota.

2000, Herb Kohl Teacher of the Year, finalist

1998 to present, ESL/World Languages Consultant. Working with school districts and organizations to establish and expand language programs for students.

1995-2000, Grant Writing.  Writing and receiving annual United Way grants to initiate and maintain an Adult Literacy and English as a Second Language Program in Delavan, WI.

1993, Bilingual Task Force.  Developing Texas State Standards and recommending curriculum for the district.  Creating district-wide goals to promote diversity and understanding of cultural differences and standards in Bilingual and ESL instruction.

1991, FLES-Foreign Language after school program. Instructing Spanish language and culture to non-Spanish speaking students.

1990, Fund Raising.  Initiating business partnerships with local companies to provide essential school items for children at the Principe De Paz Orphanage in Ecuador, S.A.



Tahtinen-Pacheco, S. & Merchant, J. (2014). Academic Language Development through Integration of Science and Language Instruction.  MinneWITESOL Journal, 1(1). Retrieve from

Tahtinen-Pacheco, S. (2013). Servant Leadership: Making a Difference in University TESL Programs. Journal of the International Christian Community for Teacher Education, 8(2). Retrieve from .

Tahtinen-Pacheco, S. (2009). A Model for Support: Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners in a Small Community.  Dissertation Abstracts International, 70-07A, p.177, (Pub. No.3366934).

Tahtinen, S. & Dahlman, A. (2007). A Case Study Evaluation for District 281:Robbinsdale Armstrong High School. In partnership with Minnesota Department of Education RSIG Grant Project, Robbinsdale Area Schools, Robbinsdale MN.

Dahlman, A. & Tahtinen, S (2006). "Can computers facilitate understanding and Empathy? Challenges in creating a reflective electronic support-network for novice language teachers". In S. Rilling, (Ed.), Learning Languages through Technology: The computer-Assisted/Computer Enhanced Environment. TESOL. Tahtinen, S. (2004).  Minnesota New Visions Spotlight on Parkview Elementary FLES program. Minnesota Language Review, 32(3), p. 12-13.FLes program model.

Tahtinen, S. (2003). Minnesota New Visions Spotlight on an outstanding FLES program. Minnesota Language Review, 31(5), p.7-13.

Tahtinen, S. (1998). A School~Family Partnership Guide for Involving Language Minority Families. (Available from the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, Department of Curriculum and Instruction).   

Editorial Work

Minnesota Department of Education (2010). Working with Refugee Students in Secondary Schools: A Counselor's Companion. Published online at:


Conference Presentations

Tahtinen-Pacheco, S., Hanson, M, & Skogen, R. (2020).  "Increased Acquisition using the new TOCCA model".  Presented at the Annual MCTLC (Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures).

Tahtinen-Pacheco, S. & Benegas, M. (November 2013). "Teacher Performance Assessment in Minnesota". Presented at the Annual MinneTESOL conference.

Tahtinen-Pacheco, S. & Benegas, M. (November 2012). "Minnesota: Land of Diverse Voices - for Teacher Educators".  Presented at the Annual MinneTESOL conference.

Tahtinen-Pacheco, S. & Larsen, D. (November 2011). "Active Minds; Engaged Learning - for Teacher Educators".  Presented at the Annual MinneTESOL conference.

Tahtinen-Pacheco, S. & LeGrand, D. (May 2010). "Mentoring Pre-Service Teachers". Presented at the Minnesota ESL, Bilingual & Migrant Education Conference, Minnesota Department of Education.      

Tahtinen-Pacheco, S. (November 2009). "Building a Support Network for English Learners and their Families". A pre-conference workshop for the state-wide MinneTESOL conference.

Tahtinen-Pacheco, S. (May 2008). "Best Practices in TEFL Pedagogy". A three day presentation for faculty members at Life University in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

Tahtinen-Pacheco, S. & LeGrand, D. (October 2008). "Mentoring Pre-Service Teachers".  Presented at the Minnesota Council on the Teaching on Languages and Cultures conference.

Tahtinen, S. (November 2007). "A Support Network Model for ELL Students". Presented at the annual MinneTESOL conference.

Tahtinen, S., Diaz, Sr. Carmen, Dahlman, A., & Brzosko-Barrat, K. (2003, November). "Supporting Beginning Teachers' Transitioning to Independent Teaching." A presentation at the State-wide MinneTESOL conference.

Tahtinen, S., Nolan, V., & Petrin, T. (2003, October). "Creating, Improving, and Advocating for FLES". A presentation at the Minnesota Council on the Teaching on Languages and Cultures conference.

Tahtinen, S. & Ratwick, A. (2002, October). "Minnesota World Languages: Complete the Core". A presentation at the Minnesota Council on the Teaching on Languages and Cultures conference.

Tahtinen, S. (2001, October). "A Model Pre-K Bilingual Education Program." Wisconsin Department of Instruction Conference. Training Program Administrators and Teachers in the State Standards and Assessment Guidelines for Bilingual/Bicultural and English as a Second Language Education.

Certificates and Licenses

Bilingual-Bicultural teaching license; Minnesota, Texas, and Wisconsin

ESL teaching license; Texas and Wisconsin

Elementary Education teaching license; Minnesota

Professional Organizations, Committees, and Boards

Community Service

Refuge Life Team, Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Afton, MN

Coco's Heart Dog Rescue, Hudson, WI

Strategic Planning Action Team, Stillwater School District, Stillwater, MN

Sunday School Teacher, Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Stillwater, MN

Long-range Planning Committee, Our Savior's Lutheran Church

Board of Directors, Warm World Early Child Care Center, Stillwater, MN

Children, Youth, and Family Team, Our Savior's Lutheran Church

PIE (Parents in Education) member, Stillwater School District

Safe Hands Animal Rescue, MPLS, MN

Hobbies and Interests

Volunteering with newcomer immigrant populations.

Spending time with family.

Fostering puppies.

Areas of expertise

30 years experience in teaching & research in: Teacher Education, Bilingual-Bicultural and World Languages and Cultures Ed.; Pre-K - Adult, Curriculum, Assessment, and Instructional Design, ESL/Bilingual/Foreign Language Program, Development & Evaluation, Faculty Development/Teaching Mentor, and Doctoral/Masters Thesis Advisor


A wise teacher makes learning a joy. Proverbs 15:2