Gender diversity and L2 pedagogy: Adapting classroom practice for inclusivity and intercultural competence development

Kris Knisely, University of Arizona
2:00-5:00 pm, Friday, March 1, 2019

254 Van Hise Hall

Abstract: In response to shifting sociocultural constructions of gender and the emerging visibility of non-binary subject positions (Kramsch, 2009), grammatically binary linguistic systems, such as French, are presently being challenged, subverted, and adapted by speakers. Simultaneously, with rising US trans visibility, the connections between language and gender are increasingly relevant to today’s learners. In turn, this development of gender-inclusive linguistic forms and practices offers unique pedagogical opportunities for linguistic and intercultural competence development in second-language classrooms wherein students performatively (re)construct (Butler, 1990) second language selves (Dornyei, 2014). Such an opportunity coincides with increased attention to intercultural competence (IC) in the field of language teaching as is evidenced by new Can-Do statements for IC and a growing number of academic positions in IC.

In this workshop, Dr. Kris Knisely (University of Arizona) will discuss gender diversity as it relates to inclusive language teaching practices. He will first provide a broad introduction to working with students of diverse gender identities in the language classroom. Then, he will use examples from the linguistic practices of non-binary individuals in France in order to outline how all language classroom discourses and activities can be adapted to be more inclusive. He will focus particularly on how, as pedagogues, we are to address binary grammatical gender with students who have non-binary gender identities. A number of strategies for increasing inclusiveness and supporting diversity in all second language classrooms will be presented and discussed, along with the theorized value for all students of teaching non-binary linguistic forms for fostering tolerance of ambiguity, and the development of linguistic and intercultural competencies. As students learn non-binary language forms, they learn about components of intercultural communication such as inclusivity, co-cultures, language attitudes, and power. This workshop will feature hands-on practice with inclusive materials selection and adaptation as well as with inclusive course and curricular design.

Bio: Kris Knisely earned his PhD in French and Educational Studies at Emory University in 2015, which was followed by three years as Assistant Professor and French and Francophone Studies Program Director at the University of South Dakota. He is now Assistant Professor of French and Intercultural Competence at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on identity as it relates to the teaching and learning of French as a second language, with a particular focus on gender and sexuality. His work has appeared in The French ReviewContemporary French CivilizationGender and LanguageThe Journal of Applied MeasurementPensamiento Educativo, and The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association.