Liz Thrush


Liz Thrush founded Be Bilingual Language School in 1989. Thrush studied Interpretation and Translation and served as the director for a language school in Mexico before returning to the United States. After re-locating to Houston, Thrush founded her own language school and began developing her own conversational method for teaching Spanish. Due to the high demand for individualized language instruction and Thrush’s extremely high standards for instructors, Be Bilingual has grown tremendously. Today, Be Bilingual continues to successfully teach language skills to students of all levels and walks of life.


Mervette was born in Cairo, Egypt and, since her childhood, she enrolled in the German School, which catered to the German community in Egypt. Growing up in this multi-cultural environment left an immense mark on Mervette, simultaneously developing a passion for Egypt’s Pharaonic heritage, as well as immersing herself in a dual Western-Egyptian culture. By the time she graduated high school, Mervette was already fluent in three languages besides Arabic, her native language. In college, Mervette took on Engineering studies, including an internship in Hanover, Germany, where she started her Arabic teaching career by tutoring her German coworkers. She has taught them Arabic language as well as Pharaonic Egyptian culture. Mervette had a very successful career in Swissair, where she developed as a person, and learned the intricacies of working in a corporate setting. Mervette obtained her Arabic-English translation certificate from the American University in Cairo, where she completed further studies in the Arabic grammar. Mervette has taught in several language centers and international schools. She is excitingly bringing her unique experience and sharing her knowledge about Arabic and the various cultures that she is familiar with.

She has been teaching Arabic since 2006.

Morena Schiavone

Italian Instructor

Morena was born in Loreto A. a small and cozy town in the middle of Italy. She graduated in Law at the Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, in Italy, where she worked as a Lawyer for several years until she moved in the USA. Since then she started teaching Italian to beginner students, advanced groups (levels B1-B2 and C1-C2) and kids classes from kindergarten to 4th and 5th grades.

In 2016 she obtained the online tutor certification for the course ICON  AP Italian language and culture and  Destinazione Italiano.

In her free time Morena enjoys to write short stories, some of them were published by “Collane letterabilia”. She also co-authored few articles on the European Capitals for the Italian newspaper “ Il Sole 24 Ore”.

She loves teaching Italian and she thinks everyday more that teaching  it’s  a beautiful cultural and human exchange.

Pat Walz

English and Accent Reduction instructor

Pat Walz has been an English and Accent Reduction instructor at Be Bilingual for 4 years.  She has a Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s University and a Masters from S.U.N.Y. New Paltz both in English and Education.  Her teaching experience spans over forty years teaching not only privately, but also in secondary schools and at the college level.  She is a published author and was a Contributing Editor for Bird Talk Magazine for twelve years.

Pat has been active in the Houston Read Program, the Amnesty Program and has taught for Harris County, and for the Chinese Cultural Center.


Born in New York City, she has resided in the Houston area for thirty-two years with her husband and her pet cats and dog.


Spanish Instructor

Cristina Salazar was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina; she graduated from the College of Business Management Administration in the University of La Plata. She has a degree in Communication and Spanish Literature. She then traveled to The United States where she has been teaching Spanish for 9 years.

In Buenos Aires she graduated from Big-Ben British School in English Communication. She also studied Italian and French
In the states she has worked with beginners, intermediate and advanced student from Shell, Chevron, Apache, and other oil corporations. She enjoys teaching individuals and groups.

Cristina`s hobbies are writing stories and being informed about European news, reading stories about Scotland Yard; her favorite hero is Sherlock Holmes. She likes to study about Castilian culture, The Cid Campeador and Spanish literature.

Alejandro Cardenas, M.Ed.

Spanish Instructor

Graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of Oregon. He had a successful career in Finance, working for stockbrokers as a trader and eventually managing the peso risk for position for Citibank Mexico N.A. Worked as a financial controller for a five star resort and the largest private security firm in Cancun, Mexico.

He moved to The Woodlands, Texas, obtained a teacher certificate from the State Board of Education in 2005. Taught Spanish 2, 3 and 4 for 6 years at Splendora High School; named Department Chair for Languages Other Than English.  He earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Sam Houston State University  and earned the Principal Certification from the SBOE in 2012.

Alejandro has been teaching Spanish and English at Be Bilingual since 2014.

Alejandro is a passionate educator that believes every person can learn if they take the time, and have the enthusiasm to learn.

Margaret Miller

English Instructor

Margaret Miller has taught English and writing skills in high schools and colleges throughout the country. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

An accomplished writer with more than 15 years of experience in corporate communications, Margaret has produced marketing materials, case studies, white papers, website copy/blogs, electronic and printed newsletters, letters and speeches for clients in all industry sectors. Approximately 100 of her articles, interviews and essays have been published in journals and publications here and abroad. Margaret also has an extensive music background and sings with the Houston Masterworks Chorus.

An eager student of world culture, Margaret has traveled to 17 countries and more than half of the fifty United States. She’s proud to be a native Houstonian and to call Texas home.

Davide Sponza

Italian Instructor

Davide was born and raised in Torino (they call it “The little Paris”), the 4th largest city in Italy, right in the heart of south Europe. He graduated in computer science. Davide has a long experience as a teacher in different subjects and ages. He is a known guitar player and instructor in the Houston community. Since his early teenager years, he’s been in contact with different cultures and states all over the world, due to his strong interest in social diversity and foreign languages. His personality and his work experiences gave him a fast and effective capacity to develop a custom teaching method for every single student. Since he moved here in the US (2012) he taught Italian as a private tutor, establishing a connection with his students that goes beyond the classic training, including them in activities that bring focus on the language learning and the Italian culture. Cooking, shopping, art and museum visits, movies and music are all techniques that he uses to introduce and grow interest in the Italian language. Classic training using major common books is largely supported.

He started to gather together a lot in Italians in Houston, giving birth to a society called Houstoliani (Houston+Italiani). He loves to promote and teach the Italian language and its beautiful culture.

Hannah McCauley

Japanese/English Instructor

Hannah McCauley is a Houston native who grew up in many countries
overseas in a family of international educators. She holds a Bachelor
of Arts in English Language and Linguistics from one of Japan’s top
universities and following graduation, spent five years teaching
English in various high schools and higher education institutions
(including many private high schools and Kanagawa University in
Yokohama). She is also fluent in Japanese.

Hannah considers herself a textbook TCK (Third Culture Kid) and uses
her knowledge and experience with many cultures and languages in her
approach to teaching her students. She is passionate about teaching
and aiding students to improve their language skills to lead to
greater opportunities in the USA. Drawing from her past experience as
a beginner Japanese learner living in Japan, she is able to relate to
students seeking to improve their English in the US. Past employers
have noted her talent in creating innovative lessons and instilling
confidence in the student’s growing language ability. In a lesson,
Hannah focuses on grammar and vocabulary while aiding in
pronunciation, and using realistic scenarios where the student might
use the lesson content.

Hannah enjoys travel, learning about different cultures and the arts,
especially dance, her other passion. Besides English, she has taught
and performed middle eastern folk dances, mostly dances from her
mother’s birthplace of Iran.


English Instructor

Robert O’Hara is a proud American, born and raised in Connecticut. In 1996, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Geography from the University of Miami, Florida. Furthermore, he taught himself Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese while living in Brazil and Mexico. Robert’s professional experience not only includes more than six year of English instruction, but also Business communication, such as writing business promotions and websites in sound effective English, and writing for a well-known Pennsylvanian political blog.

With experience teaching numerous foreign professionals from GE, Xerox, and UBS, Robert is confident that he can improve any individual’s English effectively and efficiently.


Arabic Instructor

Ernest, an Egyptian descendent, graduated from Cairo University in Business Administration. Since childhood, he has had an inert passion for the Arabic language since his father, a retired school principal and teacher, instilled in him a love for Arabic literature. Currently, Ernest is a writer for a number of Arabic periodicals, an author of book series and an editor of a California-based magazine.

Ernest loves to teach and seeks to bestow the beauty of Arabic to all his students.


Spanish Instructor

Sandra was born in Mexico City but grew up in Houston Texas. She went back to Mexico City for high school and university, where she studied Classical Studies at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, French and Photography. She taught English for seven years before moving back to Houston; she was a supervisor and instructor for TOEFL examinations, created level exams as well as mid-terms and finals and also evaluated and interviewed potential teaching candidates. Sandra worked with Mexico City´s TURIBUS, instructing and perfecting their tour guides in the English language and Mexican culture.

Sandra imparts her classes adjusting to her student´s needs and is more than happy to share her knowledge on Mexican history and culture.


Spanish Instructor

Giannella Da Fieno is a native Spanish speaker from Lima, Peru. She studied architecture at Universidad Nacional Federico Villarreal, where she also taught design subjects as an assistant teacher. As a result of practicing in Peru and USA, she is qualified to teach the language to A&E professionals as well.

She has studied in the USA to become a Spanish as a second language teacher and has experience teaching adults using authentic materials and meaningful communication based on the needs of the student and considering his/her learning styles. This contributes to a relaxing classroom atmosphere, where her students can benefit from real life dialogues and conversation while learning relevant language content.

She has taught at Be Bilingual since 2013.  She has incorporated her vast experience to Be Bilingual’s  conversational method.

She enjoys sharing this beautiful language and the Hispanic culture by relating to the student from her journey as a second language learner herself (English and Italian), knowing firsthand the effort involved and steps needed to acquire the ability to communicate in meaningful and appropriate ways in a second language.

Vera Pereira

Portuguese Instructor

Vera was born in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro and has been living in the U.S. since January 2001 in the city of Houston.  She came with her two daughters Viviane (Bilingual Teacher) and Gabriela (She got a 100% scholarship to HBU, a talented runner).  Vera’s extended family has lived in Houston for many years.

Vera is a Psychologist who has a Specialization in Human Resources and Education.  She is a certified professional who took an Alternative Certification Program in 2006 (Texas Teachers).  She took Intensive English Classes at HCC for 4 years.

Vera has been teaching Portuguese classes since 2001 to individuals and groups.

Vera develops materials and teaching strategies to make sure that all students are achieving their goals of learning the language. She prepares, arranges and modifies the lessons as needed for her students. She also develops materials for Portuguese Immersion Classes.

Vera has successfully organized and involved in the “Houston Expat Brazilian and Portuguese Speaking Meetup” since November 2004. Today the group has more than 1200 members that meet several times in the month at various Brazilian events and restaurants. The philosophy of this group is to join people that want to improve their Portuguese by practicing it, learning a little about the Brazilian culture, and also to give Brazilians a chance to meet with people who speak their language, Portuguese.


English Instructor

Patty is a veteran teacher whose experience spans nine years of teaching domestically, in Boston and Houston, and internationally, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Eastern Europe.

Patty teaches all levels of English, including Business English and Conversational English. She specializes in guiding the student to construct a functional, personalized vocabulary and, working alongside the student, instills confidence when working in English. She offers activities designed to boost vocabulary acquisition and clarify pronunciation. Each lesson is grounded in grammar and fresh, relevant materials. Focus is placed on the student’s goals.

Professional membership includes the TESOL International Association. Degrees include Social Work, Commercial Art and Advertising and recent graduate work in Conflict Transformation. Reading newly-released mysteries and painting occupy her free time.


Spanish Instructor

Manuela is a native Spanish speaker, born in Valencia, Venezuela. She is a lawyer with a post-grade degree in Constitutional Law and Human Rights from the University Castilla-La Mancha in Toledo, Spain, and an MBA in Sports Management from the European University of Madrid. Beside practicing law, she fell in love with teaching. She has experience teaching students in a variety of ages, from basic and elementary school (English, social studies, and sports), as part of a community project that she developed in Venezuela, as a requirement for her to graduate from college. She also worked as a college professor for three years at University of Carabobo teaching Legal Sociology and Civil Law, until she moved to the United States with her husband for a brand new start.

Rebecca Pistiner

Spanish Instructor

Born in Cuba and raised in New York City, Rebecca is a cosmopolitan mix of academic qualifications and life experiences – she studied piano at New York University, completed her undergraduate work in Microbiology at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette and earned an MBA in Business Management at the University of Houston, Bauer College of Business.  Fluent in English and Spanish, Rebecca has thrilled audiences at Carnegie Hall and held positions in Biochemistry and Virology at clinical and research laboratories. She has taught Negotiations and Conflict Resolution at the University of Houston and owned several small businesses and has lived and taught English in Cape Town, South Africa and Villahermosa, Mexico. Rebecca has provided English and Spanish language services to the international community since 2011, training, teaching and coaching adults and children from South and Central America, Asia, India, Africa and naturalized citizens living in the United States.

Languages are coded sounds which, by social agreement, develop into a system for communication. Rebecca’s experience in a multi-lingual community and her training in music/voice, provides her with unique abilities. The proper use of grammar and the expansion of vocabulary allows her students to express themselves accurately and with intent. Her students are also trained in the use of breath, pitch, tone, projection and the proper use of musculature and oral structure to produce the appropriate sounds for articulation, clarity and intelligibility.

Houston has been “home” for the past 30 years where she enjoys the diversity in art, culture and landscapes that lend vibrancy to the city. The single thread which has remained consistent throughout her life is her love for international communication in all forms.

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