2019 DSSA Lecture


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.


From my experiences researching language and variously as author, reviewer, Editor, and General Editor of Language Learning, I reflect on the concepts of ‘learning’, ‘language’, and ‘cognition’ and how they have changed over the history of Applied Linguistics, on our ever-expanding deployment of sophisticated methodologies, and on the fast-changing landscape of sharing, appraising, and publishing our science. Recognizing increasing “VUCA” (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) has important implications for the nature of our field and our research practices, for publishing and the changing nature of knowledge dissemination, for the valuing of knowledge, scholarship, and career progress, and for graduate training and mentoring. Recognizing similarly that what got me here won’t get you there, I am by no means sure what all the answers are, but I do know we should be considering these issues.