Associate Professor of Practice of Spanish | Spanish Language Coordinator Modern Languages & Literatures

Kelly Kingsbury Brunetto, Associate Professor of Practice (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2013) researches the intersection of two of her passions, language learning and theatre performance. She received her Bachelors' & Masters' in Spanish in a dual-degree program at the University of Notre Dame. She then taught at Notre Dame as a Visiting Assistant Professional Specialist and she developed the Spanish Theatre Workshop course, which combines the study of language and literature with the production of plays by both classic and modern playwrights. Kelly's research interests focus on exploring the affordances of target language theatre for fostering language acquisition among second- and foreign-language learners. By exposing learners to authentic written input in the form of theatrical texts, fostering intensive processing of those texts through memorization and rehearsal, and contextualizing those texts through interpretation in performance with the help of supporting artifacts such as props costumes and scenery, she believes language instructors can create an environment rich in acquisition opportunities. Development can be further encouraged by incorporating improvisational activities, of the sort frequently used as warm-ups for theatrical rehearsals, that engage learners in spontaneous, collaborative L2 production. In her most recent project, she examines the effect of participation in target-language theatre on undergraduate L2 learners (L1 English) in mixed courses, in which they participate alongside graduate students and native speakers of the target language. She explores the effect of the undergraduates' interactions with their more proficient peers on their experience of language learning in this environment, and she relates current language acquisition theory to her real-world observation of students in theatre-based learning environments. She is particularly interested in the ways that theatre helps to foster the emergence of learning communities among participants, and she explores the forces that promote, and sometimes impede, the development of these communities.

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Committee Involvement in DMLL:

  • Coordinator of Basic Program in Spanish
  • Undergraduate Transfer Credit Evaluator for Spanish
  • Coordinator for assessing proficiency in Spanish as required by the Fulbright Fellowship Program


book cover

  • Kingsbury Brunetto, K. (2015). Performing the Art of Language Learning: Deepening the Language Learning Experience through Theatre and Drama. Blue Mounds, WI: Deep University Press.
  • Kingsbury Brunetto, K. (2015). Benchmark Portfolio for Spanish 202 Curriculum Revision. University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Peer Review of Teaching Project.
  • Kingsbury, K. (2011). Rosaura a las diez en el aula: La gramática a través de la literatura. Hispania, 94(2), 329-347.
  • Kingsbury, K. (2009). Review of Set the Stage: Teaching Italian through Theatre, Nicoletta Marini-Maio & Colleen Ryan-Scheutz, (eds.) Scenario:Journal for Drama and Theatre in Foreign and Second Language Acquisition. III (2), 73-75.

Conference Presentations

  • Kingsbury Brunetto, Kelly C. "Collaboration for Pedagogical Capacity-Building: Evolving Models for Graduate Teaching Assistant Orientations." CARLA (Center for Advanced Research in Language Acquisition) Ninth International Conference on Language Teacher Education: Changes and Challenges in Language Teacher Education. Panel Organizer and Lead Presenter. May 14-16, 2015.
  • Kingsbury Brunetto, Kelly C. “Metaxis in Language Learning: A Key Affordance of Theatre-Based Learning Contexts.” Georgetown University Roundtable on Languages and Linguistics (GURT) 2014, Washington, DC, March 14-16, 2014.
  • Kingsbury Brunetto, Kelly C. “A Phenomenological Investigation of Participation in Target-Language Theatre by Undergraduate Learners in Mixed-Level Courses.” Thinking, Doing, Learning: Usage-Based Approaches to Second Language Learning, Odense, Denmark, April 24-26, 2013.
  • Kingsbury, Kelly C. “Target Language Theatre as Lived Experience: Politics, Phenomenology, and the Toss of a Coin.” Cultures & Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC) Conference, Minneapolis, MN, 9-10 March 2012.
  • Kingsbury, Kelly C. “How to Implement an L2 Theatre Production.” Participant in panel discussion: “From Page to Stage.” Midwest Modern Language Association Conference, St. Louis, MO, 4-7 November 2004.

Academic Grants

  • VILAS TRAVEL GRANT, University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2013.
    • Funding for travel to present at an international conference
  • INSTITUTION FOR SCHOLARSHIP IN THE LIBERAL ARTS, University of Notre Dame. 2004, 2005, 2006.
    • Funding for the Spanish Theatre Workshop production

Honors and Awards

  • OUTSTANDING INSTRUCTOR, Fall 2009. University of Wisconsin Student Resident Halls
  • MELLON-WISCONSIN DISSERTATION BOOT CAMP, University of Wisconsin-Madison, June 2012.
  • STAGNI SERVICE AWARD, University of Notre Dame, Oct. 2010.

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Research Interests

  • Theatre production (rehearsal and performance) for second language development
  • Theatre for understanding literature, culture and history
  • Second Language Acquisition and classroom methods and practices
  • Literature and film for second language development
  • Literature and film as tools to increase cultural and historical awareness
  • Socially-situated interactions in language classes
  • Graduate students’ pedagogical development