Language learning and the gendered self

the case of French and masculinity in a US context


  • Kris Aric Knisely University of South Dakota



French, gender, Gendered Language Attitudes, Post-secondary, Second Language Learning, Masculinity, Motivation, United States


In a time of ever-increasing globalisation, the development of diverse linguistic skills has been growing in importance despite a trend of reduced language learning, which is particularly marked in Anglophone countries. Although the need for international interaction is not gender-specific, a growing body of literature has identified gender-related differences in language education. Existing research has demonstrated that different target languages have been gendered by students in different ways. Extending the existing literature, focused primarily on adolescents, a survey was administered to 294 students at four universities in the southeastern US to explore the degree to which young adults perceive languages as gendered and to which taking French is perceived as gender-norm violating. Findings suggest that although there are some similarities in terms of the gendering of languages and language study among adolescent and young adult learners, differences exists in the nature of this gendering.

Author Biography

Kris Aric Knisely, University of South Dakota

Kris Knisely is an assistant professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of South Dakota. He is interested in studying the intersections between second language acquisition, with a focus on French, and learner identity, including the learners’ self-concept, self-efficacy, gender identity and sexual orientation. He holds a PhD in French and educational studies from Emory University, and an MA in language, literature and translation, with a concentration in French and an emphasis on foreign language methodology and pedagogy, from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.


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How to Cite

Knisely, K. A. (2016). Language learning and the gendered self: the case of French and masculinity in a US context. Gender and Language, 10(2), 216–239.