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Phyllis Ngai

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Phyllis Ngai

Adjunct Associate Professor
LA237 - 406-721-4691
Office Hours:

1 - 2 PM Tuesday

1 - 2 PM Thursday every other week

And by appointment.

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.


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


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.

Current Couses

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



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.

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.

Graphics, Design, & Layout by Spectral Fusion Designs, 2013.