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Karen Leonard

College of Arts and Sciences

Modern Languages


Ph.D. (Second Language Acquisition), 2015, University of Iowa
M.A. (Spanish), 2010, Loyola University Chicago
B.A. (Spanish and Sociology), 2008, Northwestern College (Iowa)

Dr. Leonard joined Olivet’s full-time faculty in 2015, teaching a wide variety of courses in the department. Her research interests focus on language learning during study abroad, particularly on the development of speaking proficiency.

Prior to her work at Olivet, she taught Spanish courses at Loyola University Chicago and the University of Iowa, where she also served as the coordinator for first-year Spanish courses.

Dr. Leonard is the recipient of a presidential graduate fellowship and a research grant from the University of Iowa. She conducted her dissertation research in Argentina. 

Her most recent professional presentations include “Fluency development during study abroad: What exactly, if anything, changes?” for 2014 Second Language Research Forum in Columbia, South Carolina; and “Study abroad and oral proficiency: What difference does it make?” for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) conference in Philadelphia. She is a member of ACTFL.

A native of Minnesota, Dr. Leonard enjoys visiting her parents, sister and brother-in-law there. Outside of the classroom, she relaxes by reading, hiking or playing the piano and guitar. Traveling is one of her favorite leisure activities.

Ecclesiastes

7:12

For wisdom is a safeguard, as money is a safeguard, but the excellency of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to them that have it.