AAALetter - April 2017
Volume 29, Number 1
Table of Contents
- From the Editor - Planting the Seeds to Grow and Nurture Future AAAL Leaders
A recurring theme of this particular edition of our AAALetter is one that relates to leadership and service. As you read through the various contributions you will see that the AAAL leadership is working towards ensuring that we all support the future leaders of AAAL. Many of us, if not all of us, probably agree with the idea that this goal in higher education is important for the work we do with our students at our own universities as we prepare them for their active role in our profession. Read More.
- From the President
I’m writing this message on a glorious sunny autumn (sic) day in Sorrento, a beautiful seaside town south of Melbourne, Australia. The fact that for the first time in its history the President of the Association is based outside North America reflects the international character and reach of our organization: about one-third of our members are based outside the United States. I’m not the first Australian to be President; the very first President, Wilga Rivers, was Australian, though at the time she had a chair at Harvard. It is an honour and a privilege to be in this role for the coming year. Read More.
- From the Past President - Dunking Chairs and Brussel Sprouts
When I agreed to be nominated for the position of AAAL’s Second Vice President, I had some general idea of what I was getting into. I had read the Bylaws and the Standing Rules very carefully, and I had talked to the Nominating Committee. I’d had some previous experience with association leadership, so I felt generally well prepared to take on the position of AAAL’s 2nd VP. In fact, I looked forward to learning more about AAAL, meeting new people, facing new challenges, and possibly even making some new friends. Read More.
- From the 2018 Conference Chair
After a very successful Portland 2017 conference chaired by Tim McNamara, it’s already time to start planning for 2018 in Chicago. Seven years have passed since AAAL last convened in Chicago and we’re excited to be heading back to this perennial favorite. Read More.
- From the New Public Affairs & Engagement Committee (PAEC)
The Public Affairs & Engagement Committee (PAEC) is a new committee that was formed in December 2016 that provides “an important means by which AAAL members can bring their collective expertise to bear on issues of social importance and inform public debate by speaking to issues of social and professional relevance” (AAAL Standing Rules). Read More.
- From The Graduate Student Council Steering Committee: Heading into Year 3
The Steering Committee of the Graduate Student Council (GSC) is entering its third year as an organizational body within AAAL. As I begin my second (and final) year on the committee and my first as the co-chair, I am proud of what we have accomplished thus far and excited to begin working with our new team during the 2017-2018 year of service. In what follows, I share some of our accomplishments from this year and introduce the incoming GSC Steering Committee. Read More.
- AAAL Election
Voting for the future association leadership is now open. Read More.
A recurring theme of this particular edition of our AAALetter is one that relates to leadership and service. As you read through the various contributions you will see that the AAAL leadership is working towards ensuring that we all support the future leaders of AAAL. Many of us, if not all of us, probably agree with the idea that this goal in higher education is important for the work we do with our students at our own universities as we prepare them for their active role in our profession.
Given that ensuring that we help prepare the future leaders of this organization by attending to the needs of our graduate students has been a topic we have discussed in Executive Committee, I thought I would take an opportunity in this introductory piece to share an example of what we can do at our institutions. I would like to share with you an illustration that I strongly believe has been quite successful in supporting the growth and development of graduate students in applied linguistics/TESOL at my own institution: Colorado State University (CSU).
This past April, CSU celebrated the 10th year anniversary of TESL/TEFL Advocacy Week! Each year, students in the M.A. in English (TESL/TEFL concentration) come together to organize themselves in a student organization to plan Advocacy Week. The work CSU students accomplish unfolds over the course of several months, as students have to work towards raising the funds to put together a week of events hosted on campus to help educate the university community about issues that affect the TESOL profession and English language learners. The week of events typically begins or ends with a renowned applied linguist who comes to CSU to deliver a lecture on a topic relevant to our campus community, and/or community at large. This year, CSU welcomed again Eli Hinkel who delivered the following talk: "Teaching and Learning Vocabulary for Academic Writing."
It was timely to have Eli Hinkel address this topic of utmost importance to the CSU community. The reason being is that, for the past five years, CSU has been working to significantly increase efforts in campus internationalization. Eli, as the case of all our previous speakers, is not only an inspiration for our own students, but is key in helping us advocate for the work that needs to happen with English language learners to support their academic success at institutions of higher education, such as CSU.
Prior to Eli visiting CSU, who has been here before to participate in this event, the graduate students in TESL/TEFL have welcomed many others. The very first speaker who was instrumental in putting this idea in to action was Dana Ferris. The success of the first Advocacy Week inspired many others to maintain this effort in years to come. Since Dana, CSU has hosted the following, including: Paul Kei Matsuda, Andrew Cohen, Lyle Backman, Rebecca Field Freeman, Maureen Snow Andrade, Fredricka Stoller, Diane Larsen-Freeman, and Lourdes Ortega. All of these colleagues have left us with the imprint of the work and contributions to applied linguistics that have helped us educate our own communities. Therefore, one can only agree with what our own President in this issue of the AAALetter stated: “AAAL is a wonderful, collegial association,” and it is this spirit that has supported Advocacy Week at CSU for the course of 10 years now!
Again, the seed for TESL/TEFL advocacy week was planted 10 years in the graduate methods course I was teaching at the time. I had just joined the graduate faculty at CSU, and during that first semester, I shared the successes another group had already put into motion at my previous institution, Illinois State University (ISU). It was a group comprised of undergraduate students in bilingual / bicultural education who started this concept as they were strongly advocating for issues affecting their profession and learners in the State of Illinois. When CSU graduate students learned about this example, they thought they would certainly want to replicate what undergraduate students had accomplished already, as they saw much value in that effort. So I want to certainly also credit the bilingual / bicultural education majors at ISU for starting something others would want to replicate and continue to embrace!
I hope this example inspires many of you to have conversations with your own students at the undergraduate and / or graduate levels. When students join CSU they quickly understand that their time on campus is to develop some essential skills they will find valuable in their future career. As we all know, the life of new successful faculty members often requires that they put into practice their ability to write grants, collaborate across disciplines/campus, educate the campus community, serve in leadership roles, in addition to conducting research and demonstrating effectiveness in teaching. Example of efforts as the one I have described here offer a platform to introducing our students to the importance of developing multiple skills and putting all of it together! Faculty can serve their programs by inspiring their students to engage in these efforts. Established leaders can, as we have experienced here, contribute to their success by their willingness to support these events. Many of us on campus who have moved to serve our universities into other roles can continue to support these efforts as well. It is a worthy endeavor that will bring much satisfaction both at the personal and professional level.
I hope you will consider sharing these stories with your students too! Last but not least, I invite you to read about the AAAL Grad Student Association in this issue of the AAAL, and ensure your students know about this great way to connect with AAAL! We are here for them, and the future of AAAL depends on them.
I’m writing this message on a glorious sunny autumn (sic) day in Sorrento, a beautiful seaside town south of Melbourne, Australia. The fact that for the first time in its history the President of the Association is based outside North America reflects the international character and reach of our organization: about one-third of our members are based outside the United States. I’m not the first Australian to be President; the very first President, Wilga Rivers, was Australian, though at the time she had a chair at Harvard. It is an honour and a privilege to be in this role for the coming year.
It’s the Easter break here, welcome after the excitement (and exhaustion) of the AAAL conference in Portland. The conference maintained the attendance figures of recent years, although with a record number of registrations. There were somewhat more no-shows this year than in the past, resulting in a final on-site attendance of 1568. The plenary speakers and several of the colloquia presentations addressed or reflected the theme of Transdisciplinarity; three of the plenary speakers were from disciplines outside applied linguistics (philosophy, rhetoric and robotic engineering) and each made strong links to work in our field. The invited AILA@AAAL colloquium focused on the theme of transdisciplinarity specifically. A number of other colloquia were jointly sponsored with different associations, including LSA, AAA, TESOL and ILTA. Diversity and equity were strong themes of the conference: there were invited colloquia on refugee and asylum seeker issues in a variety of national contexts, on sexuality, and on indigenous language education; three colloquia focused all or in part on deafness and sign language issues; and other colloquia explored marginality, immigrant youth education and the environmental crisis, among many other socially relevant themes.
The conference was held under the shadow of the Presidential Executive Order on Travel, which meant that 6 people who had had proposals accepted were unable to get the required visas: four of these were PhD students in other countries (students from Yemen and Iran in New Zealand, from Libya in the UK, and from Iran in Canada). The Order triggered an international campaign for a boycott of academic conferences in the US. The Executive of the Association responded by issuing a statement affirming its opposition to the order and asserting the right of all members of the profession to be free to present their research to their professional colleagues. The Standing Rules, which require presenters to present in person, were amended to allow the individuals affected by the Order to give pre-recorded presentations, or in the case of a poster presenter, to have a colleague present the poster. Conference attendees were encouraged to show their support by attend the sessions affected by the ban. Terry Wiley, the outgoing President of CAL, was invited to convene a special colloquium at lunchtime on the first day of the conference (so that it did not conflict with any other academic sessions) on the impact of exclusionary discourses and the professional responsibility of applied linguists in the changed international political circumstances. In addition, on the second day of the conference, a lunchtime meeting of the newly created Public Affairs and Engagement Committee (PAEC) was held to provide further opportunities for collective action. The Association is grateful to Terry and to the speakers in his panel, and to Netta Avineri, the Chair of PAEC, for their role in allowing conference delegates to discuss the issues raised by the Executive Order and other related developments.
Affirming the right of our international members to be able to present at our conference will be a priority in the lead-up to the 2018 conference in Chicago. Other aspects of the international character of the Association will be a focus: for example, how the Graduate Student Council might serve the interests of graduate students who are not based in the US. The Executive Committee has recently come to the end of a five-year strategic planning cycle, and we will evaluate what has been achieved, and the need for and potential timing of a further planning cycle. The Association’s conferences are a victim of their own success. We received a record number of proposals this year, almost 2000, and given that for the next three years we are locked into contracts with hotels with about the same amount of space for presentations as in previous conferences, the pressure on acceptances will grow even greater. We need to think of strategic ways in which this pressure may be relieved. For example, the shared shorter paper format, trialled this year, proved successful, and allows for three papers to be presented in a time slot in which only two normal papers would be presented. We also need to consider the challenges and opportunities that technology presents in the delivery of conferences.
AAAL is a wonderful, collegial association, and I look forward to working with the other members of the Executive and with members more generally to strengthen and extend its creative reach and its support for excellent research in our field.
When I agreed to be nominated for the position of AAAL’s Second Vice President, I had some general idea of what I was getting into. I had read the Bylaws and the Standing Rules very carefully, and I had talked to the Nominating Committee. I’d had some previous experience with association leadership, so I felt generally well prepared to take on the position of AAAL’s 2nd VP. In fact, I looked forward to learning more about AAAL, meeting new people, facing new challenges, and possibly even making some new friends.
The part that came as a surprise to me (okay, let’s be honest – as a bit of a shock) was the intensity of being the AAAL 1st VP the following year. The 1st VP is the person in charge of planning and running the annual conference. While the experience proved to be rewarding in the long run, there were several bumps in the road along the way. For instance, I was stunned by the number of (in my opinion) unprofessional responses to proposal rejections. I was also very surprised by how many people requested special treatment of some kind, often in spite of publically stated AAAL policies. Eventually, it all worked out, although some people were unhappy with the results.
So in April of 2016, having survived the intense year and a half leading up to the 2016 AAAL conference in Orlando, I looked ahead to (which is not the same as “looking forward to”) the precedential year. Would it be as demanding? Would as many people be upset with me? Would as many unexpected and serious issues arise?
The image that occurred to me was that of the drowning tests, sometimes using the “dunking chair” in witchcraft trials of the 1700’s and 1800’s. Apparently if a woman was convicted of practicing witchcraft, she would either be weighted down with stones and thrown into a pond or river, or strapped to a chair attached to long poles and suspended over a pond. While tied to the chair, she would be dunked and held under water for several minutes. When the chair was finally raised, the woman’s fate was determined: If she had drowned, it meant she was innocent of being a witch. If she had survived the lengthy dunking, however, it meant she had used evil magic to stay alive and was therefore a witch. At that point, she would be condemned to be burned at the stake.
I wondered: If being the AAAL 1st VP could be equated to trial by drowning in the dunking chair, did it follow that being the AAAL President would be like being burned alive? I hoped not!!
In truth, when I look back on the year as 1st VP, being responsible for the 2016 AAAL Conference was an incredibly rewarding experience, one I will treasure for the rest of my life. And subsequently, serving as AAAL President was equally rewarding: challenging, yes, and demanding in terms of the time commitment. But my colleagues on the Executive Committee and our wonderful professional staff (Sarah Berke, Jessica Atkinson, Ellen Shea, and Michele Doyle) formed a terrific team – collegial and efficient. Together we faced some interesting challenges, but we also made a great deal of progress, in terms of the development of AAAL.
So I’ve changed my grim witchcraft analogy to a much more positive visual metaphor. But to share that new image, I have to tell you a story.
In 1984, I had my first opportunity to work for the US State Department as an Academic Specialist. The job included living in dormitories at Adam Mickiewicz. University in Poznan, Poland, with college seniors for three weeks. Those students were about to undertake their practicum assignments to prepare for careers as English teachers.
At the time, Poland was still under Soviet domination. Consumer goods and food products were scarce. Lunch in the cafeteria was a dismal affair, and the students seemed miserable. The professors weren’t happy either, but we chose to be polite and thankful for the food. The first meal consisted of watery mashed potatoes, salty mashed carrots, and salty cabbage that had been boiled down to the consistency of sludge. The portions were slapped onto our plates by hostile kitchen staff who yelled at the students, but merely scowled at the professors. Still, food is food and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, so I took my tray and proceeded in the cafeteria line to the beverage area. However, I had to draw the line at drinking the beverage that was served: a cup of liquid and what looked like two disintegrating brussel sprouts, apparently rotting in a cup of water. The sight of them almost made me gag. But after eating the sticky, salty meal, I was parched. I really wanted a drink of something. Cautiously, I sipped the liquid, distracted by the floating sherds of brussel sprouts.
But wait! Not brussel sprouts. Plums. Golden green summer plums, in a compote that was both tangy and sweet. It was incredibly refreshing. What an amazing surprise!
Since that summer in Poland, I have often thought about that delightful surprise, especially at times when something I expected to be awful has turned out to be wonderful.
And that’s how I feel about having been AAAL President. Yes, there were challenges, particularly in terms of time management, and there were some difficult decisions to be made. But the camaraderie and professionalism of the Executive Committee and our wonderful staff members turned every interaction into a developmental experience, and for that series of opportunities, I am very grateful. I look forward to serving my final year on the Executive Committee as the Immediate Past President of AAAL.
PS: By the way, there are now many new AAAL initiatives under way that will need volunteer support. If you are interested in serving AAAL on a committee or task force, please be sure to indicate that interest the next time you renew your membership.
After a very successful Portland 2017 conference chaired by Tim McNamara, it’s already time to start planning for 2018 in Chicago. Seven years have passed since AAAL last convened in Chicago and we’re excited to be heading back to this perennial favorite.
AAAL will once again be held March 24-27, 2018 at the Sheraton Grand (formerly the Sheraton Towers). The hotel is located right on the Chicago river just a few blocks away from the Magnificent Mile and the lakefront. The Art Institute of Chicago, Grant Park, and the Field Museum of Natural History are all less than a mile away, and restaurants for every taste and budget are within walking distance.
For the first time in several years, AAAL will meet back-to-back in the same city as TESOL, which will take place March 27-30.
In recent years AAAL has focused on developing more conference events for our growing graduate student membership. For 2018 we will continue this tradition, working closely with the AAAL Graduate Student Council to plan events including graduate student professional development sessions, newcomer sessions, focus groups, and a graduate student social on the evening of Friday, March 27th. This year we are pleased to introduce a new mentoring session between faculty and students. You may have participated in such sessions in other conferences, and we feel it will be a great addition to the AAAL conference. If you are interested in signing up as a faculty mentor or student mentee please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also have an exciting roster of conference plenaries and invited colloquia lined up for the 2018 conference that reflect the wide-ranging research interests of our membership. Our scheduled plenary speakers, Ellen Bialystok, Jan Blommaert, Eric Friginal, Susan Goldin-Meadow, Kim Potowski, and Steven Thorne, will share their expertise with us on topics including the effects of multilingualism on the brain; the inter-relation of language and social structure; the structure and meaning of talk in the professions; the role of gesture in language and learning; the place of dual immersion education in U.S. schools; and design experiments in digital language learning. Invited colloquia organized by leading scholars will also provide state-of-the-art discussions of timely topics including refugee education; global hip hop, language, and identity; eye-tracking research; the role of context in study abroad language learning; and new trends in vocabulary research. In 2018 AAAL will also host three colloquia jointly organized with other professional associations: the North American Systemic Functional Linguistics Association (NASFLA), the International Language Testing Association (ILTA), and the International Pragmatics Association (IPrA).
The Call for Proposals is already live and the site will open for proposal submissions on June 1. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at 5pm (US Eastern Daylight Time). We look forward to receiving your proposal submissions. If you have any questions, please contact us at email@example.com. See you in Chicago!
Visions and Prospects
The Public Affairs & Engagement Committee (PAEC) is a new committee that was formed in December 2016 that provides “an important means by which AAAL members can bring their collective expertise to bear on issues of social importance and inform public debate by speaking to issues of social and professional relevance” (AAAL Standing Rules). The PAEC is charged with engaging AAAL in the public domain. This is done by preparing and proposing position statements, processing Position Statements submitted by the general membership, recommending for endorsement position statements/resolutions issued by other organizations, organizing an annual public affairs event, and other outreach activities (e.g., interviews, op-ed pieces, blog posts, social media outreach, other means of communicating with the public) (AAAL Standing Rules). The PAEC plans to provide a set of interdisciplinary applied linguistics perspectives on issues of public concern. We envision a collaborative approach to initiatives moving forward, seeking to facilitate projects that are critical to AAAL members and tackle relevant social issues of the day. We also hope to be a resource for consultation as AAAL members conceptualize which issues to address, why, and how.
The PAEC Members are:
Netta Avineri (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, PAEC Committee Chair)
Kathleen Bailey (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, ex officio, AAAL Past President)
Meg Malone (ACTFL, Georgetown University, ex officio, JNCL-NCLIS liaison)
Adam Schwartz (Oregon State University)
Terrence Wiley (CAL, ex officio, CAL President)
**Paul Kei Matsuda served in the AAAL Past President role from December 2016 – March 2017. **
At AAAL 2017, the PAEC held its first open meeting, with 50 participants. We first shared the PAEC purpose with all the attendees. Position statement processes as well as issues of position statement genre, audience, and purpose were discussed. The meeting was then opened up to provide a forum in which the participants could offer and discuss their ideas for possible outreach activities, initiatives, and projects. There was consideration of both outward engagement (e.g., with media, community members, public officials) as well inward engagement (among AAAL members and applied linguists themselves). Relationships with other organizations (e.g., AAA, ACTFL, CAL, LSJ) were raised as critical to the PAEC’s collaborative approach moving forward, including endorsements of those organizations’ public statements. We also discussed the importance of both proactive initiatives (e.g., statements about language learning, language development, immigration, diversity) and responsive initiatives (e.g., statements about executive orders, world events). Specific possible actions included press releases, media engagement, workshops, teaching resources, lobbying, and conference sessions), as well as disseminating actions from JNCL to AAAL’s U.S.-based members.
One specific example of an initiative that has already moved forward is a position statement generated by 10 AAAL members about the January 27 Executive Order/travel ban. The statement was approved by the PAEC and AAAL Executive Committee, was available for AAAL member commentary that was reviewed by the PAEC, and was available for AAAL member vote until April 27. In the future, it is hoped that position statements will be generated on other relevant issues that applied linguists have unique perspectives to contribute, in addition to AAAL endorsing statements created by other professional organizations.
We encourage AAAL members to join the AAAL & Social Justice Listserv, an online collaborative space for sharing ideas, resources, publication, and initiatives focused on applied linguistics and social justice.
We also hope that AAAL members will get in touch with ideas for projects and initiatives of social concern. Feel free to contact Netta Avineri (firstname.lastname@example.org). We look forward to hearing from you!
The Steering Committee of the Graduate Student Council (GSC) is entering its third year as an organizational body within AAAL. As I begin my second (and final) year on the committee and my first as the co-chair, I am proud of what we have accomplished thus far and excited to begin working with our new team during the 2017-2018 year of service. In what follows, I share some of our accomplishments from this year and introduce the incoming GSC Steering Committee.
One of our top priorities this year was to find new ways to engage with the AAAL graduate student community outside of the annual conference. In response, we launched AAALgrads, a student-run newsletter published twice annually that features articles written by and for graduate students (see below for links to the fall and spring editions). Our pre-conference newsletter, released this March, featured articles that addressed the following topics: tips for successfully navigating a conference (Elnaz Kia, Northern Arizona University), an interview with 2016 Dissertation Award winner Dr. Katie Bernstein (Laura Hamman, University of Wisconsin-Madison), advice for working collaboratively in higher education (Shakina Rajendram, Mimi Mason, & Elizabeth Jean Larson, University of Toronto), building support systems in graduate school (Lisa Gonzalves, University of California-Davis), writing for publication (Meng Zhang, The Ohio State University), finding balance between teaching and being a grad student (Olivia Rines, Arizona State University), and effective note-taking strategies (Anna Mendoza, University of Hawaii-Manoa). We had many more article submissions than we could accommodate for the spring edition, and we are thrilled that the newsletter has been so well received by graduate students and the greater AAAL community. For the upcoming term of service (2017-2018), Rayoung Song (University of Massachusetts-Amherst) and Jessica Lian (Georgia State University) will be moving into the role of co-editors. They will announce the call for submissions for the fall newsletter in the coming months. If you are a graduate student, please consider submitting a piece!
As in previous years, we organized and led two graduate student events at the 2017 AAAL conference. The afternoon event, “Making a transition: From graduate student to faculty member” featured a panel of early career faculty who shared their experiences on navigating the job market and their first years as assistant professors. In the post-event survey, grads reported that they enjoyed hearing from individuals in a variety of positions and appreciated the candid sharing of experiences. Our evening event, “Publishing 101: Graduate students’ forum on writing for publication,” included presentations from graduate students who have had experience publishing for academic audiences. After the presentations, students had the opportunity to meet with presenters in break-out groups to ask questions and get to know one another better. Survey data revealed that students enjoyed the practical tips, range of experiences, and delicious food!
We have continued to grow our social media presence. This year, the AAALgrads Facebook account (AAAL Graduate Students) reached over 1,100 followers and has become our primary means for engaging with graduate students. We have used Facebook to share important dates and deadlines, announce newsletter publications, recruit volunteers, advertise jobs, and provide pre- and during-conference information, among other things. We also tweet (@AAALGrad), post on Instagram (aaalgrads), and engage in grad-focused forums on the AAAL website (aaal.org). If you haven’t already, connect with us on social media!
Incoming graduate student leadership team
I am excited to present the incoming AAAL GSC Steering Committee: Laura Hamman, University of Wisconsin-Madison (co-chair); Mengying Liu, University of Minnesota (co-chair), Michael Amory, The Pennsylvania State University (secretary), Rayoung Song, University of Massachusetts-Amherst (member-at-large), and Ai-Chu Ding, University of Indiana-Bloomington (member-at-large). We held our first leadership meeting at the 2017 AAAL conference to begin planning strategic priorities for the upcoming year and will continue to meet virtually each month as we work to serve and represent the AAAL graduate student community.
We have begun to identify goals for the upcoming year. Some are internal: as the GSC Steering Committee grows and evolves, we plan to continuing to improve our organizational systems, including streamlining task management, cleaning up archives, and building a more efficient volunteer database. Additionally, we will extend our external reach by continuing to find new ways to engage with graduate students during the year and by increasing our collaboration with other grad leaders, such as this year’s AAAL conference planning team at the University of Georgia (Rhia Moreno Kilpatrick, Nicole Siffrin, and Lei Jiang). We will also continue to organize graduate student events for the annual AAAL conference, choosing topics and session formats that align with grad interests based on survey feedback from this year’s conference. Finally, we will continue to represent graduate student interests on the Executive Committee and AAAL task forces, ensuring that grad perspectives and needs are heard. We look forward to a productive and engaging year!
Have a question or feedback for the GSC Steering Committee? We love hearing from you! Contact us at: email@example.com.
Voting closed on July 1, 2017 at 11:59 PM Eastern.