Associate Professor of Spanish
Modern Languages and Classics
Dr. Lisa Kuriscak focuses her research on the acquisition of Spanish, especially pertaining to second language writing, pragmatics, and study abroad. She completed her B.A. at Canisius College, did research on a Fulbright grant in Galicia, Spain for two years, studied Mapuche in Chile for a year, and then did her M.A. in General Linguistics at SUNY Buffalo and her PhD in Hispanic Linguistics at Indiana University. She is the “go-to person” for BSU Spanish study abroad and has taught in summer study abroad programs in Spain since 2008. At BSU, she typically teaches courses in linguistics, composition, and conversation.
She describes herself as the proud daughter of an immigrant and a silver-lining seeker, a lover of languages, and an educator who believes in the power of gratitude and empathy to change the world. Her love affair with Spanish began in high school, and that flame was fanned by her upbringing in a Slovak-English household. When asked about her experiences with languages and how that has affected her teaching, she replied: Although English is my first language, I was raised in a bilingual environment and have a deep appreciation for how being bilingual can enrich one’s life, shape our identity, and open parts of us that our first language doesn’t have access to. I am grateful for my background because I can identify with students who learned Spanish in school (because that’s how I started). I can also identify with those who learned Spanish naturalistically (because I learned Gallego from living in Galicia, not from formal instruction) as well as from family and cultural exposure (because I, too, am a heritage language learner, having heard a lot and spoken some Slovak growing up). I get that the struggle and the joy of language learning is multifaceted, and I practice what I preach.
She primarily uses Communicative methods in her teaching; research shows that languages are best acquired via communication in the target language about real-life situations with ample opportunities to negotiate meaning with others. She strives to understand students’ backgrounds and learning styles to enhance the methods and uses a variety of media. Her students’ intercultural competence is also very important, and whenever possible she includes material on politeness, directness, and cultural nuances. She reminds students to turn down the volume of their self-critic, to cultivate positive thoughts and words because of their power to change reality, and to be agents of their own learning in class and beyond.
Click here for the list of DR. KURISCAK'S PUBLICATIONS