AAAL 2025 Plenary Speakers

Wesley Y. Leonard 

Relational Accountability as a Framework for Language Work ... Indigenous and Beyond

There is a longstanding practice across language sciences of discussing language separately from the personal lives, communicative practices, and embodied experiences of colonial oppression that members of Native American and other Indigenous language communities have (Davis, 2017). Even in applied language sciences, where sociopolitical context tends to receive stronger focus, engaging with language in academic contexts can still privilege dominant language ideologies, categories, and pedagogies, thereby alienating members of Indigenous communities and scholars who are allied with these communities. Not surprisingly, Indigenous people remain underrepresented in Applied Linguistics, and those who do engage the field often report negative experiences, noting that the field does not adequately include, represent, or help us and our communities. But it does not have to be this way.

What changes when Native American and other Indigenous intellectual approaches serve as the baseline from which language, languaging, and other areas of applied linguistics are approached? The purpose of this presentation is to engage this broad question both with the specific goal of improving how applied linguists engage with Indigenous languages and language communities, and also with the more general objective of probing and shifting disciplinary praxis in Applied Linguistics as a whole. To do this, I draw upon ideas from Indigenous Studies, particularly two core values that are foundational in my Miami community and in many other Indigenous communities. One is relationality, operationalized for this presentation as “the worldview that everything is interrelated, and by extension, interdependent” (Venegas and Leonard 2023, 333). Ensuing is the notion of relational accountability, which calls not only for recognizing and honoring relationships to land, community, and intergenerational knowledge, among other areas, but also provides a framework for applied linguists to responsibly support Indigenous communities and their language efforts. Relational frameworks call for disciplinary praxis that firmly recognizes how community language shift results from disruptions to relationships due to colonial oppressions and dispossessions, and that by extension, language reclamation requires accountability to the linguistic sovereignty that Indigenous language communities already have and to fostering new relationships to language that they seek to have

Wesley Y. Leonard (he/him) is a citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and an associate professor of Native American Studies in the Ethnic Studies department at the University of California, Riverside. Drawing from his PhD in Linguistics (University of California, Berkeley, 2007) and experience as an additional language learner and practitioner in myaamia and other community-based language programs, his research aims to build language reclamation capacity in Native American and other Indigenous communities by cultivating language reclamation praxis, which centers community needs, values, and definitions of language, while also changing the norms of language sciences to facilitate such work. As part of this, he co-developed the Natives4Linguistics project, which promotes Native American needs, research and ethical protocols, and intellectual tools as a basis for doing linguistics. His scholarship appears in a variety of outlets such as Gender and Language, Language Documentation and Description, Dædalus, Language, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, and Language Learning.

Trish Morita-Mullaney

The Asianization of Linguicism: Language Policies as Racializing the Asian Diaspora

The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) diaspora is often ascribed as the racial community that has achieved relative success compared to other groups of color, yet this model minority myth is used discursively and materially to reproduce Whiteness and anti-Blackness.The racialized romanticization of this Asian model also maps onto language with English being plotted along a continuum of approaching to attaining proficiency, even among AAPIs who claim English as their only language. Such constructions around linguistic authenticity and attainment are grounded in the European ideals of meritocracy assuming that one’s hard work will ultimately generate full inclusion. Yet linguistic and racial ascriptions of AAPIs are co-naturalized, constructing them as incomplete citizens or foreigners, regardless of generational or language identity. Thus, the specialization or customization of treatment within educational and language policy is less necessary, creating the conditions for relative invisibility and erasure. This concocted matrix of hyper success in comparison to other groups of color, coupled with critiques of their full linguistic attainment/performance unsettles the theory of the racial bourgeoise, returning us to historic and contemporary narratives of suspicion and disposability. Visibility or hypervisibility.
Drawing from racial triangulation theory (Kim, 1999; 2018; 2023), raciolinguistic (Alim et. al, 2016; Flores & Rosa, 2015) and LangCrit perspectives (Crump, 2014), this talk traces the history of the Asianization of linguicism. I examine how racial and linguistic visibility and invisibility are co-naturalized, normalizing the conditions for racial and linguistic subjugation of Asian minds and bodies through humor, scapegoating, and emotional and physical violence. Beginning with the Chinese Exclusion Act and moving forward to the educational reforms of the War on Poverty and the language rights case of Lau v. Nichols (1974) to the present, I map how AAPI ethnolinguistic communities are the maleficiaries within educational and language policy. A matrix is furnished for scholars to expand such work within their distinct ethnolinguistic communities and exploration of their claimed and intersecting racial and linguistic identities..

Trish Morita-Mullaney is an Associate Professor in Literacy and Language at Purdue University with a courtesy appointment in Asian American Studies and serves as the Co-Director of the Center for Literacy and Language Education and Research. Her research focuses on the intersections between language, race, national origin, and gender identities and how this informs the identity acts of educators within multilingual communities. Guided by critical and feminist thought, she examines these intersectional identities and how they inform the logics of educational decision making for multilingual individuals and families. As a former ESL and bilingual teacher and administrator, she draws from her experiences and relationships within schools, programs, and communities to understand the assemblages of economic, political, and social capital. Her newly published book with Multilingual Matters, “Lau v. Nichols and Chinese American Language Rights: The Sunrise and Sunset of Bilingual Education” examines the Lau v. Nichols (1974) language rights case as developed, experienced, and implemented by the Chinese American community of San Francisco’s Chinatown. With co-editors Khánh Lê, Zhongfeng Tian, and Alisha Nguyen, she has a forthcoming edited volume entitled, “The long overdue voice: Asian Americans in Bilingualism and Bilingual Education” capturing the narratives of the Asian diaspora within bilingual education. 

Associated colloquia: Chris Montecillo Leider and Kevin Wong

Dr. Hayriye Kayi-Aydar

An Intersectional Look at Critical Applied Linguistics: Current Research, Future Directions, and Some Skeptical Remarks 

Critical applied linguists have been engaged in justice-oriented scholarship for decades although this area of research has grown exponentially and received more attention in recent years. It is through this critical scholarship, in the form of empirical research, theoretical engagement, and advocacy that critical applied linguistics brings together different ways of knowing and responds to global injustices and the growing global inequality. In this talk, by amplifying voices of critical applied linguists and maintaining a critical and sometimes highly skeptical stance towards existing critical scholarship and advocacy efforts, I aim to engage in newer theorizations of intersectionality, discuss invisible and left-out intersectionalities in critical applied linguistics, and discuss ways to increase our collective efforts for intersectional advocacy and justice.  I first begin with a short overview of the major lines of research in critical applied linguistics, especially in relation to global migration and related social changes and crises. This critical engagement is guided by intersectionality, a framework that aims to understand the privilege and oppression through an analysis of the complex interplay of identities and intersecting forms of power. Next, I discuss a future research agenda aimed at re-theorizing intersectionality for critical applied linguistics, by challenging but respecting intersectionality’s primary focus on race and the Global North, as well as re-envisioning education from K-12 to teacher professional learning through an intersectional lens. I conclude with interrogating intersectional advocacy within the field, with the goal of promoting intersectional efforts and practices in and for multiply-marginalized bodies and communities.  

Dr. Hayriye Kayi-Aydar is an associate professor of English Applied Linguistics at the University of Arizona, where she teaches in the MA TESL and Interdisciplinary PhD SLAT programs. Often using narrative inquiry and discourse analysis approaches, her research focuses on the intersectional identities and agency of teachers in multilingual contexts. She has served or is serving on editorial boards for various journals including TESOL Quarterly; Journal of Language, Identity, and Education; ELT Journal; and Linguistics and Education. Dr. Kayi-Aydar is the author of Positioning theory in applied linguistics: Research design and applications (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019) and Critical applied linguistics: An intersectional introduction (Routledge, 2024), as well as the co-editor of five books on language teacher education.  

Associated colloquia: Yasmine Romero

Quentin Williams 

Cultivating Togetherness in Applied Linguistics Research: turbulence, in difference, non-racialism 

Relational accountability hinges on developing good relationships and bringing into permanency relationalities across the lifespan of practitioners and those who document (to put it simply) what goes on where, how and why. The process that follows such accountability concerns the cultivation of togetherness and a shared understanding of the contribution the applied linguistic researcher and research participant brings to such a process. Such a relationality emerges as part of a process and practice that produces togetherness that though initially begins on an uneven footing is found in how each one establishes a common understanding of togetherness. But relationality requires work. It’s hard work. And relational accountability as the cultivation of togetherness, on equal grounds, can never be critically assumed or taken for granted.   

In this talk, I firstly introduce the notions of turbulence, in difference and non-racialism in an attempt to expand the remit of relational accountability in applied linguistics research. I argue, following on from above, that in our collaborative research efforts, we are confronted with cultivating togetherness as a shared practice and substitute connections and implementations to see and hear non-racial human beings in our research process. Yet, how we arrive at such an endeavor emerges out of (1) ‘disruptive happenings’ (tensions, contradictions and creative disagreements), that is, turbulence; (2) an indexing of in difference, that is, the working out in togetherness of the discourse and practices of difference to manage embodied communication and relationalities; and (3) casting relational accountability in the mould of human mutuality as non-racialism and as foundational to relational accountability in applied linguistics research. These are the binds that make the cultivation of togetherness possible. In the second part of the talk, I illustrate these binds by drawing on several applied linguistic studies of turbulence, in difference and the linking of human mutuality to non-racialism. I conclude the talk by offering several directions on the future of togetherness as a methodological framework in applied linguistics research. 

Quentin Williams is Director of the Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research (CMDR) and an Associate Professor of Sociolinguistics in the Linguistics Department at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). He was the Ghent Visiting Professor (Leerstoel Houer) at the Centre for Afrikaans and the study of South Africa at Ghent University (Belgium) in 2022. He is Co-Editor of the journal Multilingual Margins: a journal of Multilingualism from the periphery, and co-founder of the Heal the Hood Hip Hop Lecture Series, a forum for the African Hip Hop Indaba. His research interests include multilingualism, linguistic citizenship, popular culture (and specifically Hip Hop language and culture), youth multilingualism, marginal multilingual practices in markets, Afrikaaps (also known as Kaaps), language activism, Afrikaaps gospel music. He has published in sociolinguistic and applied linguistic journals, including the journals of Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Reviews and Sociolinguistic Studies. His most recent book is Global Hiphopography, with Jaspal Singh (Palgrave, 2023). Previously, he authored Remix Multilingualism (Bloomsbury Press, 2017), and co-edited Neva Again: Hip Hop Art, Activism and Education in post-apartheid South Africa (HSRC Press, 2019, with Adam Haupt, H Samy Alim and Emile YX?), Making Sense of People and Place in Linguistic Landscapes (Bloomsbury, 2018, with Amiena Peck and Christopher Stroud) and Struggles for Multilingualism and Linguistic Citizenship with Tommaso Milani and Ana Deumert (Multilingual Matters, 2022). He leads the Trilingual Dictionary of Kaaps (TWK) project that will develop the first dictionary of Afrikaaps (see here:    

Associated colloquia: Jaspal Singh

Dr. L. J. Randolph Jr. 

Toward an Anticolonial World Language Curriculum

In recent years, antiracist, anticolonial, and justice-centered approaches to the teaching and learning of world languages have gained much momentum and visibility. However, we are at a crossroads. Just as researchers and educators have embraced these pedagogies, the pushback against such ideologies and associated pedagogies has also gained momentum. This pushback has attempted to limit classroom and societal discourse relating even to broad concepts such as race, diversity, and inclusion. In particular, recent reactions from institutions have shown that the consequences for anticolonial solidarity and activism have been severe. So where do we go from here? In this presentation, I turn our attention to the curriculum as a site of activism, as it is a space that reflects the content, voices, perspectives, competencies, and skills that we value and deem worthy of instruction. Although national, state, and local language curriculums often broadly allude to concepts of diversity, cultures, and communities as integral components of a language education, the framing of and focus on proficiencies and competencies reflect a coloniality that is steeped in capitalist pursuits and marketplace ideologies. I argue that an anticolonial, abolitionist perspective enables us to reimagine what the purpose of a language education is, who a language education is for, and what successful language learning entails.

The World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (The National Standards Collaborative Board, 2015) is the most ubiquitous curricular framework for teaching languages in US contexts, and it also provides the theoretical foundation for state curriculums and textbook content. As such, I use these standards as a starting point for exploring how we got to where we are and how we can move forward. I begin by exploring common ways that the field has conceptualized such notions as proficiency, competency, culture, and community. I then present a framework for an anticolonial language curriculum that 1) recognizes how anticoloniality intersects with other justice-centered frameworks such as racial and linguistic justice, and 2) incorporates the language and ideologies associated with broader social movements for justice and abolition. In line with the conference theme of “relational accountability,” I draw upon Indigenous research and knowledges to guide us as we imagine the possibilities of an anticolonial curricular framework for world language education.

Dr. L. J. Randolph Jr. is an Assistant Professor of World Language Education and affiliate faculty in Second Language Acquisition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Randolph’s teaching career has spanned over 20 years, including a decade as a Spanish and ESL teacher at the secondary level. His research and teaching focus on various critical issues in language education, including teaching Spanish as a heritage, home, or community language; incorporating justice-centered, anti-racist, and anti-colonial pedagogies; and centering Blackness and Indigenousness. He is a co-editor of the book How We Take Action: Social Justice in PK-16 Classrooms (Information Age Publishing). An advocate for abolitionist, liberationist, and transformative language education, Dr. Randolph is the 2024 president of ACTFL and a former president of FLANC and AATSP-NC.

Associated colloquia: Aris Clemons and Tasha Austin

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