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News & Press: AAALetter

From the President

Thursday, December 17, 2015   (0 Comments)
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Our organization, the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL), embodies the globalization of knowledge. Despite its name, AAAL has the look and feel of an international organization; the scope of our intellectual activities and the membership profile reflect contributions from around the world. As of September 2015, 690 of the 1,978 members (35%) were international members who live and work outside the United States. This figure does not include many of the US-based members who are international students and scholars as well as recent immigrants to the United States. Some of the recent leaders of the organization have ties to Australia, Germany, Japan, Russia and Sri Lanka. Even our founding president, Wilga Rivers, was from Australia.

While AAAL has been benefiting from contributions by applied linguists from various parts of the world, it has been rather passive when it comes to engaging with applied linguistic organizations from other countries and regions. This is partly due to AAAL’s role as a national affiliate of the International Association of Applied Linguistics, or Association Internationale de la Linguistique Appliquée. Founded in 1964, AILA is an international association of national applied linguistic organizations representing various countries and regions around the world (read the article by Jeff Connor-Linton and Tim McNamara for further detail about the relationship between AAAL and AILA).

AAAL’s role as an affiliate of AILA and its relation to other AILA member organizations have created a unique challenge for our organization: How do we serve our international membership and leverage our resources in addressing global language issues in ways that are consistent with its role as an AILA affiliate and sensitive to other national applied linguistic organizations? As a step toward answering this question, representatives from AAAL and AILA Executive Committees (ECs) met at AAAL 2015 in Toronto to discuss the possibility of AAAL forging relationships with organizations from other countries, and concluded that it not only appropriate but desirable for AAAL to form relationships with other organizations.

The next question, then, is how. AAAL does not currently have a protocol for establishing relationships with other organizations. In order to explore ways of establishing mutually beneficial relationships, the AAAL EC will be holding a meeting—or a series of meetings—at AAAL 2016 in Orlando with representatives from several organizations that have recently expressed interest in working with AAAL. I hope these conversations will help us move toward productive collaborations that will benefit our members while allowing us to share our resources with the rest of the world. 

Paul Kei Matsuda, Arizona State University

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