My name is Kris Aric Knisely, and I am at present an Assistant Professor of French and the Program Director for French and Francophone Studies at the University of South Dakota.
My research interests lie in the fields of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and Foreign Language Methodology and Pedagogy. My primary line of research considers gender identity and sexual orientation in SLA. In a secondary line of research I explore educational technology and teacher education as they relate to language education.
I am presently working on my second major project, for which I am investigating the linguistic practices of gender non-binary speakers of French using mixed-methods (questionnaires and interviews). The primary objective of this project is to describe how non-binary gender identities can be expressed in a grammatically binary language in order to develop a set of best practices for supporting non-binary students of French as a second language.
In my dissertation, Language Learning and the Gendered Self: Learner Identities and French Language Study in a US Context, I addressed the intersection of three domains: 1) motivation to learn a second language, 2) gender identity and sexuality, and 3) language attitudes. My research expands the existing literature by examining these domains simultaneously in a post-secondary context, by adding qualitative methods, and by employing an interdisciplinary theoretical framework that draws from existing theories in anthropology, social psychology, gender and sexuality studies, and language learning. I use mixed-methods (questionnaires, focus groups, and interviews) to consider how language-learning motivation relates to perceptions of language varieties as masculine or feminine and students’ gender and sexual identities among 18-21 year old American university students. Giving voice to my participants allows for the exploration of new strategies for motivating young adults to learn a second language. On a larger scale, I argue that understanding language learning motivation is foundational to promoting the linguistic diversity that is essential for productive, non-oppressive international interaction in today’s increasingly globalized world.
Underlying all of my work is a strong belief in the reciprocal nature of teaching and research. As a researcher I focus on how identities, affect, and motivational variables influence learning. As an instructor, I am particularly attentive to individual identities in the classroom as well as to the creation of an inclusive community of learners. I strive to foster motivation in and create opportunities for success for each and every student. Through the process of teaching I also learn from my students as they share their thoughts and experiences with me, which in turn fuels my thinking as a researcher and my self-reflective practice as an instructor.
Last updated: August 2017