Taraneh Sanei

Faculty Lecturer

Chair in Persian Language Program

I am the faculty lecturer of the Persian program in the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill. I received my PhD in Linguistics (December 2021) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) where I had been designing and teaching Persian courses of different levels to a diverse and varied student body from 2016 to 2022. My teaching experience also includes teaching courses in Sociolinguistics (at UIUC) as well as teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language and Business English courses (in Iran). I specialize in the Sociolinguistics of Iran and Iranian diaspora delving into issues of multilingualism, language ideologies, and online/offline communication.

Over the past decade, I have gained extensive teaching, and particularly language teaching, experience both in Iran and in the US. I started teaching English as a Foreign Language at prestigious language schools in Tehran back in 2012. This sparked the interest in me to obtain my MA degree in TEFL at the University of Tehran where I was trained in a variety of language teaching theories and methodologies that in turn helped me excel as a language teacher. After moving to the US in 2016 to continue my graduate studies at UIUC, I started teaching various levels of Persian language courses, from Elementary to Advanced, to a diverse population including Persian heritage speakers as well as foreign language learners at both undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to teaching the Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced levels, I designed a post-Advanced course, with a focus on classical and modern Persian literature and poetry, which I taught for the first time in 2019.

My teaching career has been consistently informed and improved by my research in Iranian and Persian Sociolinguistics. In my work, I investigate the sociolinguistic practices of Iranian communities in Iran and in diaspora, focusing specifically on the interaction of language ideologies and identification processes and how this manifests in online/offline interaction. I have given several talks and published work on multilingual identities and ideologies among Iranians in contexts of migration, Persian-English code-switching and the nuanced identity performances in a ‘globalized’ Iran, and online multisemioticity and multimodality in Iranian social media users’ interactions, among others. My dissertation project was concerned with offering a theorized understanding of how social actors use the new online spaces to perform different acts of identity.

I am currently working on turning this dissertation into a book on the ‘Iranian social media’ which would offer a long-awaited resource that provides a comprehensive insight into Iranians’ dynamic use of Persian, English, and other languages along with a variety of other (bundles of) signs, e.g. memes, to fulfil different communicative functions in the era of the Internet. I believe that this book helps Persian educators, myself included, teach Persian not only in its ‘traditional’ form but also as it is changing in real time with the current-generation native and heritage speakers of Persian and help with incorporating components into the syllabi that the students would find more relatable. This is where my being a sociolinguist of Persian helps me create and lead courses that students find engaging, fun, and useful in their everyday life!



PhD in Linguistics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2021

MA in Linguistics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2018

MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), University of Tehran, 2016

BS in Chemical Engineering, Amirkabir University (Tehran Polytechnic), 2013


Sanei, T. (2022) Globalization, Linguistic Markets, and Nuanced Patterns of Identity Performance: Farsi-English Code-Switching in Iran. International Multilingual Research Journal. doi: 10.1080/19313152.2021.2009157

Sanei, T. (2021) Normativity, power, and agency: On the chronotopic organization of orthographic conventions on social media. Language in Society, 1-28. doi:10.1017/S0047404521000221

Sanei, T. (2019). Investigating Multilingual Identities and Ideologies among Iranian Communities in Contexts of Mobility. In The Sociolinguistics of Iran’s Languages at Home and Abroad (pp. 225-249). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.


Invited Speaker

Lectures on World Englishes, English Varieties, & Cross-cultural Communication, Kyungpook National University Summer Program, Study Abroad Program, UIUC, 2021.

Community outreach

Lectures on Language Ideologies for K-12 students, Agora Program, University High School, Urbana, IL, US, 2019 & 2020.


  • “Experiencing Mobility through Memes: Multimodal Identification Practices Among Transnational Iranians” in a panel on ‘Mobility, Multilingualism, and Language Identities’ organized by Rakesh Bhatt, How Does Culture Move? Symposium, School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistic (SLCL), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, October 2021.
  • Memes, Chronotopes, and the Performance of Iranian Immigrant Identities Online [Paper presentation]. GURT 2020 Virtual Conference, Georgetown University, Washington D.C, March 2020.
  • Complexifying (Im)politeness: Context, Language, and Gender ideologies in Iran [Paper presentation]. AAAL 2020 Conference, Denver, Colorado, https://www.aaal.org/news/The-AAAL- Annual-Conference-Has-Been-Cancelled (Conference Cancelled), March 2020.
  • ‘Grassroots Reform’ Faces ‘Grassroots Prescriptivism’: The Case of an Orthographic Change-in-Progress among Iranian Social Media Users [Paper presentation]. SALSA XXVII Conference, Austin, Texas, April 2019.
  • “It’s like they are unlearning the rule!”: Grassroots literacies and the metapragmatics of Persian-ness [Paper presentation]. AAAL Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, March 2019.
  • ‘Scripted identities’: English-Farsi transliteration and the (co-)construction and (de-)legitimization of global identities on Iranian social media [Paper presentation]. PLLS Conference, West Lafayette, Indiana, March 2019.
  • De-Westernization or De-Arabization: “Purification” of Persian and the Negotiation of Ethnolinguistic Identities vis-à-vis Global Identities [Paper presentation]. SALSA XXVI Conference, Austin, Texas, April 2018.
  • Globalization, Multilingualism, and New Patterns of Differentiation: Persian-English Code-Switching in Iran [Paper presentation]. ILLS 10 Conference, Champaign, Illinois, April 2018.
  • 'You Can at Least Try not to Say “Inestageram”!’: Sociophonetic Indexicality of Code-switching in Contexts of Globalization and Mobility [Paper presentation]. AAAL Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2018.
  • 'Esteressing the new life-estyle': mobility, multilingualism, and sociophonetic indexicality [Paper presentation]. CLASP V Conference, Boulder, Colorado, September 2017.
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