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Faculty Image Phyllis Ngai
Office: LA237
Phone: 406-721-4691
Curriculum Vita: View/Download CV


Current Position:

Adjunct Associate Professor


Phyllis Ngai’s research and teaching interests lie at the crossroads of language, culture, communication, development studies, and public education.  Dr. Ngai is the author of Crossing Mountains: Native American Language Education in Public Schools in the Contemporary Native Communities Series published by AltaMira Press and author or co-author of 26 journal articles, book chapters, and monographs.  Currently, Phyllis teaches courses in intercultural communication and international development communication.  She has taught both in Asia and in the United States, and conducted research and delivered guest lectures at universities in countries on four continents, including Cambodia, India, Norway, China, and Ethiopia.  To contribute to the local community, Phyllis volunteers to support implementation of Indian Education For All in Missoula public schools.  In 2014-2015, she is co-directing a professional-development institute for high-school teachers from around the country.  The institute, funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars and Institutes Grant, will engage Indigenous Literary Perspectives in Global Conversation. While actively involved in grant projects, scholarship, teaching, and community service,  Phyllis still finds time to enjoy the beautiful Montana outdoors with her family.  Her favorite pastimes include kayaking, cross-country skiing, jazz piano, and reading by lakeshores with the view of the mountains.

Office Hours:

1 - 2 PM Tuesday

1 - 2 PM Thursday every other week

And by appointment.

Field Of Study:

Intercultural Communication

Development Communication

Multicultural Education

English-language Teaching (TESL)

Indigenous Education

Research Interests:

Dr. Phyllis Ngai’s recent research explores (1) a local Cambodian NGO's participatory approach to rural development and its discourse of sustainable development (2) transcultural pragmatics/intercultural communication training with teachers of English as a second language; (3) the impacts of social media on internationalizaton of higher education; (4) communication differences in Native/non-Native educational partnerships; and (5) the impacts of different Indian-education approaches on Native and non-Native students' learning outcomes in public middle schools.


COMX 202S Nonverbal Communication (blended)                                                                                                                   

COMX 204X International and Development Communication (online and on-campus)

COMX 415 Intercultural Communication (online and on-campus)

COMX 412 Communication and Conflict (blended)

LSCI 491 Global Leadership Initiative Capstone Project


Ed.D., The University of Montana-Missoula, 2004
M.A., The University of Montana-Missoula, 1996
B.A., The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1994

Teaching Experience:

Dr. Ngai has taught courses in communication studies, multicultural education, integrating Indigenous education, and English as a second/foreign langauge in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Addis Ababa, and Missoula since 1995.

International Experience:

Phyllis Ngai grew up in Hong Kong and has lived in Missoula for 20 years.  Dr. Ngai has conducted research and lectured at universities in various countries on four continents, including Camboida, India, China, Ethiopia, and Norway.  Two years ago, as volunteers, she and her family helped build houses for the needy in Guatemala.

Selected Publications:


Crossing Mountains: Native American Language Education in Public Schools, Contemporary Native American Communities Series.  Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2012, 298 pages.

Other Peer-reviewed Publications:

  • Indigenous Education in the Norwegian and U.S. Contexts.  In “Mapping” Indigenous Presence: Sami and Native American Studies Perspectives, co-edited by Kathryn Shanley and Bjorg Evjen.  Tucson: University of Arizona Press.  Lead author. 2014.
  • Meeting Diversity the Midst of Adversity: An Intercultural-communication Training Framework for Refugee Assistance Crisis Management. In Handbook of Crisis and Emergency Management (2nd ed.), edited by Ali Farazmand. NY: Francis & Taylor, pp. 13-30. Lead author. 2014.
  • Managing Refugee-assistance Crises in the Twenty-first Century: The Intercultural-communication Factor. In Handbook of Crisis and Emergency Management (2nd ed.), edited by Ali Farazmand.  New York: Taylor & Francis, pp.285 - 311.  Co-author.  2014.
  • Multicultural Teaching Competence for Glocal Education: A Professional Development Model. International Journal of Education for Diversities, 2013, v2, pp. 76 -90.
  • Partnership for Knowledge-based Development in Asia.  Box in The SAGE Handbook of International Higher Education edited by Darla K. Deardorff, Hans de Wit, John Heyl, and Tony Adams.  Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2012.
  • Indigenous Education for Critical Democracy: Teacher Approaches and Learning Outcomes in a K-5 Indian-Education-For-All Program.  Equity & Excellence in Education, 2011, v44, #2, pp. 249-269.  Lead author.
  • Growth with Sustainable Development? Impressions of Addis Ababa at the Start of 2011. Afrikan Sarvi, Horn of Africa Journal, 2011, v.1, #1, online. Co-author.
  • Implementing Montana’s Indian-Education-For-All in a K-5 Public School: Implications for Classroom Teaching, Education Policy, and Native Communities.  Journal of American Indian Education, 2010, v49, #1 & 2, pp. 44-62.  Lead author.    
  • Indigenous Studies and Intercultural Education: The Impact of a Place-based Primary-school Program.  Intercultural Education, 2010, v.21, #6, pp. 597-606. Lead author. 
  • An Emerging Indian-language Education Framework for Reservation Public Schools with Mixed Populations.  Journal of American Indian Education, 2008, v.47, #2, pp. 22-50.
  • Bilingual Education in Rural Schools with Native and non-Native Students: Indigenous-Language Program Elements for an Inclusive Model.  Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 2007, v.10, #6, pp. 723-751.


  • A Process Guide for Realizing Indian Education for All: Lessons Learned from Lewis & Clark Elementary School, 75 pp.  2000 copies printed and distributed by Office of Public Instruction, Helena, Montana, 2007.  Lead author.

Other Publications:

Peer-Reviewed Publications

•Community-based Indigenous Education for Global Competence.  The International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations, 2007, v.7, #2.

•Citizenship Education for an Age of Population Mobility and Glocally Interconnected Destinies.Finnish Journal of Ethnicity and Migration, 2006, v.1, #1, pp. 26-33. Co-author.
•Indian Education For All in an Urban Public School.  Phi Delta Kappan, 2006 November, p. 211. Lead author.
•Grassroots Suggestions for Linking Native-Language Learning, Native American Studies, and Mainstream Education in Reservation Schools with Mixed Indian and White Student Populations.  Language, Culture and Curriculum, 2006, v. 19, #2, pp. 220-236.
•Organizational Communication and Globally Displaced Perimeter Populations: A Neglected Challenge for Intercultural-communication Training.  In International and Multicultural Organizational Communication, co-edited by George Cheney and George Barnett.  Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2005, pp. 225-267. Lead author.
•A Reinforcing Curriculum- and Program-reform Proposal for 21st Century Teacher Education: Vital First Steps for Advancing K-12 Multicultural Education.  Equity and Excellence in Education, 2004, v. 37, #4, pp. 321-331.
•Linking Distance and International Education: An Educational Strategy for Developing Multicultural Competence Among Distance Learners. Journal of Studies in International Education, 2003, v.7, #2, pp. 157-177.
•Bilingual Education for All: A Benefits Model for Small Towns.  Bilingual Research Journal, 2002, v.26, #2, pp. 269-294.
•Organizational Communication in Refugee Camp Situations.  New Issues in Refugee Research. Working Paper No. 71, December 2002.  Monograph published by UNHCR, The United Nations Refugee Agency, Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit.  Lead author.
•Nonverbal Communication Behavior in Intercultural Negotiations: Insights and Applications Based on Findings from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Hong Kong, and the China Mainland.  World Communication, 2001, v.29, #4, pp. 3-35.
•Preparing for Diversity in the Midst of Adversity: An Intercultural-communication Training Program for Refugee Assistance Crisis Management. In Handbook of Crisis and Emergency Management, edited by Ali Farazmand. NY: Marcel Dekker, 2001, pp. 23-38. Lead author.
•Managing Refugee-assistance Crises in the Twenty-first Century: The Intercultural-communication Factor. In Handbook of Crisis and Emergency Management edited by Ali Farazmand.  New York: Marcel Dekker, 2001, pp. 737-765.  Co-author.
•Cross-cultural Management: The Pitfalls of Unspoken Signals.  World Executive's Digest –  English edition, 1998 January, pp. 49-50.  Lead author.
•Nonverbal Hints for Successful Intercultural Negotiation.  World Executive's Digest --Chinese edition, 1997 November, pp. 58-60.  Lead author.


•Beyond Reversion: Hong Kong in the Year of Transition. The Montanan, 1998, Spring, v.15, #3, pp. 22-23.  Lead author.

Languages Known:

  • Chinese - native/bilingual proficiency
  • English - native/bilingual proficiency