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News & Press: AAALetter

AAAL, AILA, and the World of Applied Linguistics

Thursday, December 17, 2015   (0 Comments)
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In many ways, AAAL is actually an international association. This will come as no surprise to the one-third of our members who come from countries other than the US, or to our Canadian colleagues who joined with us to hold last year’s annual conference in Toronto (and the 2006 conference in Montreal and the 2000 conference in Vancouver).

AAAL is also a national affiliate of AILA, the Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée/International Association of Applied Linguistics, an international federation of national and regional associations of Applied Linguistics, founded in France in 1964. AILA holds a triennial World Congress, supports Research Networks, and oversees publication of the AILA Review and the AILA Applied Linguistics Series. As an affiliate of AILA, AAAL helps promote the exchange of scientific knowledge, stimulates international cooperation, and supports applied linguistics in developing countries.

AAAL members receive a digital subscription to the AILA Review, discounted registration to AILA World Congresses, and representation on the AILA International Committee (AAAL members have regularly been elected to the AILA Executive Board as well). AAAL pays annual dues to AILA of around $14,000, about 3.5% of AAAL’s annual budget. (AILA affiliate dues are calculated by association size, adjusted for national GDP category.) In addition, AAAL pays the travel costs for its Secretary-Treasurer and up to two other AAAL members elected to the AILA Executive Board to participate in AILA’s annual EB/IC meetings. About half of AILA’s annual budget goes to administrative, legal, and banking costs, nearly a quarter of the budget pays for AILA publications (mainly the AILA Review). The AILA Executive Board (elected officers) and International Committee (representatives from each affiliate) meet annually, but AILA does not pay travel expenses for these meetings.

The AILA World Congress is held in the summer of every third year and, as befits its name and function, its location moves around the globe. AAAL itself hosted the 2005 World Congress in Madison, Wisconsin. More recently, the World Congress has been held in Essen, Germany (2008), Beijing (2011), and Brisbane, Australia (2014). In 2017, the World Congress will return to the western hemisphere—to Rio de Janeiro—and then on to Sarajevo in 2020.

About six years before each Congress, the AILA Executive Board issues a call for proposals to host the Congress; given the size and complexity of the undertaking, it typically receives only a few viable proposals. The affiliate selected to host a world congress is essentially an independent agent, responsible for all aspects of the congress: its program, its logistics, and its finances. Hosts of World Congresses necessarily make every effort to keep registration costs low. But local circumstances vary. For several unforeseen reasons, the 2014 World Congress had to be held in Brisbane’s Convention Center, which raised the registration fee significantly, although location, facilities, AV support and food provision were accordingly excellent. World Congress registration fees often include buffet lunches (and sometimes dinners), in order to help attendees to get these costs covered by their home institutions.

The leadership of AAAL and AILA have been discussing ways to deepen the relationship between the two associations. At the 2016 AAAL conference, AILA Vice President Daniel Perrin will contribute to a workshop entitled “Increasing the visibility of applied linguistics: Communicating with the media and the general public.” AILA President (and AAAL member) Claire Kramsch will organize colloquia at the 2017 AAAL conference on “Research Cultures in Applied Linguistics.” In addition, AAAL’s Executive Committee has been discussing other ways AAAL can help fellow associations, including sharing our experience of association building and conference management.

As AAAL becomes more international—in its membership and its outlook—it’s exciting to discover how much we can offer and learn from our colleagues around the world.

Jeff Connor-Linton, Georgetown University
Tim McNamara, The University of Melbourne

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