Awards Information and Schedule

DSSA DPSA Dissertation Award Graduate Student Award First Book Award
Research Article Award


The AAAL Distinguished Scholarship and Service Award (DSSA) recognizes and honors a distinguished scholar for her/his scholarship and service to the profession in general and to the American Association for Applied Linguistics in particular. The recipient of the 2019 DSSA is Nick Ellis.

Nick Ellis is Professor of Psychology, Professor of Linguistics, and Research Scientist in the English Language Institute at the University of Michigan. His research interests include first and second language acquisition, cognition, emergentism, corpus linguistics, cognitive linguistics, applied linguistics, reading and spelling acquisition, and psycholinguistics. Relevant books include: Usage-based Approaches to Language Acquisition and Processing: Cognitive and Corpus Investigations of Construction Grammar (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016, with Römer and O’Donnell), Agendas for Language Learning Research (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, with Ortega and Cumming), Language as a Complex Adaptive System (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, with Larsen-Freeman), Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition (Routledge, 2008, with Robinson), and Implicit and explicit learning of languages (Academic Press, 1994). He serves as  General Editor of Language Learning.

The award will be presented by Linda Harklau, President, AAAL, on Monday, March 11 at 4:00 pm in Georgia 13. Nick Ellis’ presentation, Understanding Language and Learning: Theoretical, Methodological, and Cultural Developments in Applied Linguistics will follow. For more information on his topic, please see page 37.


The American Association for Applied Linguistics created a new award in 2018, the AAAL Award for Distinguished Public Service. In bestowing this award, the association recognizes individuals outside of the field of applied linguistics – writers, journalists, politicians, lawyers, etc. – whose work (1) raises public awareness of important social issues connected to language and (2) makes exceptional contributions to promotion of multilingualism, linguistic social justice, and language-related human rights. The Award will be given annually and is not to be confused with the AAAL Distinguished Scholarship and Service Award, which is given to members of AAAL. 

Criteria for eligibility for this award include but are not limited to the following:

  • Significance of language issues addressed by the nominee’s work;
  • Demonstrability of the public impact of nominee’s work and community engagement (e.g., impact on language policies in education and other institutional settings);
  • Attention to vulnerable and minoritized populations, such as immigrant children and indigenous language speakers; and
  • Equitable engagement with communities outside academia, grassroots language activism, championing the voices of community partners, and cultivating leadership among stakeholders.

The recipient of the 2019 DPSA is Carmen Fariña.

Carmen Fariña is the Former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, the largest school district in the United States, serving 1.1 million students in over 1,800 schools. Over the past 50 years, she has worked in virtually every capacity, from teacher and principal to district superintendent and deputy chancellor, distinguishing herself as an innovative educator committed to helping students, teachers, and principals excel.

A daughter of Spanish immigrants, Fariña was the first person in her family to graduate from college. As a bilingual citizen, Fariña has emphacized the importance of bicultural education and has expanded dual language programs throughout NYC. 

She holds a Bachelor of Science from New York University and three master’s degrees from Brooklyn College (Bilingual Education), Fordham University (Gifted/Arts Education), and Pace University (Administration and Supervision). Fariña is co-author, with Laura Kotch, of A School Leader’s Guide to Excellence: Collaborating Our Way to Better Schools (Heinemann, 2008). She is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Sloan Public Service Award (1989), presented annually to exemplary civil servants.

As Chancellor—a role she held from January 2014 to March 2018—Fariña worked collaboratively with parents, educators, and other stakeholders to ensure that all students graduated from high school prepared for college, careers, and futures as productive, critically-thinking adults.

Her vision for the City’s public schools is embedded in her Four Pillars: to improve student achievement by providing high-quality instruction aligned to the Common Core State Standards; to restore dignity and respect to the craft of teaching and school leadership; to engage parents and families in every aspect of school life; and to create new collaborative and innovative models. Her priorities included expanding access to high-quality, full-day early childhood education, arts instruction, and after-school programs for middle school students, and strengthening classroom instruction by giving educators opportunities to learn from one another.

The mother of two adult daughters and proud grandmother of three young boys, she still lives in Brooklyn with her husband of nearly 50 years.

The award will be presented by Nelson Flores, on Sunday, March 10 at 10:10 am in Georgia 13. Carmen Fariña’s presentation, “Responsibility of Educators towards a Multilingual and Multicultural System: NYC approach” will follow. For more information on her topic, please see page 35.

Dissertation Award

The AAAL Dissertation Award acknowledges a dissertation that demonstrates research excellence, transcends narrow disciplinary fields and has a broad impact on and implications for the field of Applied Linguistics as a whole.

The 2019 AAAL Dissertation Award winner is Emily Kyung Jin Suh of Texas State University. Suh’s dissertation title is “Off from Lost: Generation 1 learners’ transition from adult ESL to developmental education”.

Finalists: Bal Krishna Sharma, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Bimali Indrarathne, Language Education at University of York, UK

The award will be presented by Diane Belcher on Sunday, March 10 at 11:20 am in the Capitol Ballroom.

Graduate Student Awards

The Graduate Student Awards (GSA) are given to graduate students who show academic accomplishment and promise and who are involved in and committed to the field of applied linguistics. The awards are made possible by the generous support of AAAL’s Fund for the Future of Applied Linguistics, Multilingual Matters, Educational Testing Service and the estate of Wilga Rivers.

The 2019 Graduate Student Award winners are:

  • Sara Potkonjak, York University, Multilingual Matters Award
  • Ji-young Shin, Purdue University, ETS Award
  • Mark Visoná, Georgetown University
  • Jongbong Lee, Michigan State University
  • Drew Colcher, Wichita State University
  • Yiran Xu, Georgetown University
  • Elif Burhan-Horasanli, University of Arizona
  • Carly Henderson, Indiana University

The award will be presented by Geoff Pinchbeck, Graduate Student Award Committee Member, on Saturday, March 9, at 4:30 pm in the Capitol Ballroom.

First Book Award

The First Book Award is AAAL’s way to honor a high-quality text that makes an exceptional contribution to applied linguistics as a whole or to a specific area of specialization.

The winner of the 2019 First Book award is: Racialized Identities in Second Language Learning: Speaking Blackness in Brazil by Uju Anya and published by Routledge/Taylor and Francis

The award will be presented by Steve Thorne on Monday, March 11 at 11:20 am in the Capitol Ballroom.

Research Article Award

The AAAL Research Article award is bestowed annually upon the author or authors of a published refereed journal article which is recognized by leaders in the field to be of outstanding quality and to hold the broadest potential impact on the advancement of applied linguistic knowledge.

The winner of this year’s award is: “From Early Starters to Late Finishers? A Longitudinal Study of Early Foreign Language Learning in School” by Nils Jaekel, Michael Schurig, Merle Florian, and Markus Ritter as published in the journal Language Learning (Vol 67, pp. 631-664).

The award will be presented by Andrea Révész on Sunday, March 10 at 5:30 pm in the Capitol Ballroom.