Shelley Thomas

Shelley with Kids in India Closeup

Dr. Thomas received her B.A. from Clemson University in French Literature in 1976 and attended the Sorbonne in 1977. She received her M.A. from the University of South Carolina in French Literature in 1983 and taught at the University of Grenoble in France in 1986. She received her Ph.D. in French Literature from Purdue University in 1991 when she began teaching at MTSU.

Since joining MTSU, Dr. Thomas has chaired National Women's History Month, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Committee, and the Loan and Scholarship Committee. In addition, she has served as a member of the Undergraduate Research, Scholarships, and Creative Projects (URSCP) Task Force and coordinated study abroad and summer exchange programs to France. Currently, Dr. Thomas serves on the MTSU Fulbright Committee and is a member of both the Graduate and Honors Faculty.

Her articles and book reviews on nineteenth-century authors appear in the Gale-Thomson Encyclopedia on Short Story CriticismRomanic ReviewL' Esprit Créateur, and Philosophy and Literature, and her current research on brain-based learning has been presented at international, national, and regional conferences and published in the International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching.

Dr. Thomas is the founder and director of the Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition (CALA), a center for the research and application of brain-based methods of learning.  Housed in the MTSU University Honors College, CALA provides language classes in multiple languages on a year-round basis using comprehensible input techniques.  You can read about the success of CALA students in the International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching.

CALA also offers Isha Hatha yoga classes as a part of its stress management program for teacher-training, which is open to the community and being offered to the men's population at the Rutherford County Correctional Work Center through Doors of Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating successful transitions from incarceration to the community.  From CALA's website, you can find more about what brain research says about the effects of yoga on the brain and learn all about its yoga classes, including comments by clientele and a profile of the instructor.

Dr. Thomas took a leave of absence in 2015 to spend six months in southern India to gain certification as an Isha Hatha yoga instructor.  You are invited to see the presentation she was asked to give at the Honors Lecture Series, "Yoga and Meditation with an Indian Guru."

CALA has formed local and international partnerships for language classes and teacher-training with the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute, the Webb School, the Confucius Institute, and the Isha Foundation, a non-profit organization in southern India.  You can learn more about these and other CALA partnerships on this site.

In 2021, Dr. Thomas retired from teaching, but she continues to offer professional development, conferences, and year-round telecourses through CALA. Please feel free to send invitations to her email address ( or register for classes here.

Dr. Thomas is currently part of the educational outreach team for Save Soil, the largest global non-profit organization seeking to prevent our planet's rapidly advancing soil extinction. Save Soil's founder was invited to the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) to present solutions to its 193 member nations.

You're invited to learn more about the problem and the history of this organization. YOU can be one of the over 4 billion people who are letting leadership know that saving soil is our world's NUMBER ONE ISSUE and supporting policy changes to stop soil extinction as soon as possible in as many nations as possible.

We also welcome you to watch The Need to Grow (free, 90 minutes), an award-winning documentary about SOLUTIONS. It's produced by Michael Smith, physicist, mathematician, and founder of Regnitech, a new technology company that converts industrial waste into algae for accelerated uptake of carbon dioxide.

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