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Ellen Knell

Assistant Professor (Professional)
Center for Language Studies

3094 JFSB
Provo, UT 84602


I've been a teacher for almost 20 years. I began my teaching career as a learning disabilities specialist. As a result, I'm very interested in literacy acquisition and bilingualism. I've spent more than 10 years in Asia, and I'm a Chinese (Mandarin) speaker. After teaching in many international schools in Hong Kong and consulting for English immersion in Xi'an, China, I attended graduate school at Hong Kong University and then the University of Utah—I went from English immersion in China to Chinese immersion in Utah! Following the completion of my PhD, I worked for the Utah State Board of Education and BYU Chinese Flagship, supervising Chinese language programs. Recently I was hired as an Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Center for Language Studies at BYU. I supervise more than 50 teachers of less commonly taught languages (LCTL). I am also the dual language immersion (DLI) Minor/Endorsement Coordinator for BYU.
Recently I have become interested in the neuroscience of multilingualism and doing research with eye-tracking, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), and electroencephalography (EEG).

Research Interests

Early language immersion (one-way and two-way))
English and Chinese language curriculum design and instruction
Second language literacy acquisition
L2 (second language)/ FL (foreign language) Teacher education and training
Cognitive language processes in bilingual language learners
Using eye-tracking, EEG, and fNIRS to examine cognitive language processing
Brain imaging of language process
Developmental L2 language acquisition processes
L2 Program evaluation
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL)
Cross-cultural influences in reading disabilities
Pre-literate adult education
Pre-literate adult curriculum

Teaching Interests

Dual language immersion Pedagogy
Dual language immersion research
L2/FL methodology
L2/FL literacy/writing pedagogy
Teacher pre-service and in-service training
Teacher attitudes and perspectives
Applied Linguistics/Psycholinguistics
Literacy cross-cultural research
Pre-literate and low-literate adult education

Courses Taught