Christopher Jacobs

Assistant Professor of French, Italian, Spanish & Linguistics

Office: THMH 205a   |    Phone: (308) 865-8536   |    Email:

Christopher Jacobs


Ph.D. in Spanish (Applied Linguistics), Temple University, Philadelphia, PA (2020)

M.A. in French (Linguistics and Pedagogy), Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT (2018)

M.A. in Spanish (Linguistics and Literature), Temple University, Philadelphia, PA (2017)

Master of International Affairs, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA (2014)

Research Interests

Second and additional language acquisition (SLA)

Enjoyment, anxiety, and flow in learning

Motivation and investment

Task-based language teaching (TBLT)

Project-based learning

Authenticity in teaching and assessment

Individual differences

Language for specific purposes (LSP)


A native of Pennsylvania, Chris (aka C.J.) is currently an Assistant Professor of French, Italian, Spanish & Linguistics at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK). Since 2011, he has taught Spanish, French, Italian, ESL, and linguistics in many contexts ranging from primary school to university. Chris has studied Spanish, French, Italian, German, Catalan, Portuguese, and Mandarin Chinese, and in doing so, he has discovered that one must connect with the language and practice it in real-world ways to develop proficiency. In his experience, this is most likely to occur through authentic interactions with, and in, the target language.

At UNK, Chris teaches a variety of language, linguistics, and pedagogy courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In his teaching—no matter the language, level, or content area—Chris seeks to create meaningful, student-centered learning experiences that bridge disciplines and make connections to students’ non-academic lives. He describes his approach as task- and project-based. In pedagogy classes, Chris aims to help teachers and teachers-to-be to develop their own personal styles, to apply theory to practice, and to model effective teaching strategies. He also leads immersive summer study abroad programs to Lyon, France, and Milan, Italy.

Chris’s research, which is in direct dialogue with his teaching, seeks to determine how to render learning experiences more relevant and engaging in both face-to-face and online contexts. He is currently working on projects exploring the optimization of learning through flow, a state of deep focus on an enjoyable activity that is at once challenging and accessible; improving motivation in distance learning through task design; and increasing motivation (and learning) through contact with target-language speakers.

Additionally, he is collaborating with his colleague, Dr. Janet Eckerson, on a project that explores how the recognition of existing language skills, including those acquired in both academic and non-academic contexts, can be used as a recruitment tool. Within this multifaceted project, he is particularly interested in strategies to increase enrollments in languages other than Spanish.

Outside the classroom yet still on campus, Chris coordinates weekly non-English conversation tables in 10+ language, as well as French and Italian conversation partner programs. He is the faculty advisor to the French Club, and with the help of the Office of International Education, he organizes a variety of language and cultural events, including World Languages Week and the International Food and Cultural Festival. Chris is also active in the state language teacher organization, NILA; its French teacher subsidiary, NATF; and the Alliance Française of Omaha.