AAALetter - December 2017
Volume 29, Number 3
Table of Contents
- From the AAALetter Editor
Another calendar year is almost coming to an end, and with it, we have an opportunity to reflect on past accomplishments and look forward to the exciting opportunities that the future brings! Read More.
From the President
As we move towards the New Year and the forthcoming conference in Chicago, the Executive Committee of the Association has been working on a number of issues. At our recent mid-year meeting in Chicago, arguably the most important item on the agenda was the discussion of the set of sixteen specific issues identified by the Task Force on the Implementation on the Resolution on Diversity, whose members included Manka Varghese, Glenn Martinez, Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala, Peter De Costa, Laura Collins, and Kathi Bailey (Chair). It was extremely helpful to have such a specific set of points to consider. Read More.
From the 1st VP
The AAAL 2018 Conference Team is hard at work finalizing plans for the Chicago conference. We were excited to receive nearly 2200 proposals this year, over 10% more than last year and up about 30% from four years ago. Proposals came in from scholars worldwide, reason to celebrate AAAL’s expanding and increasingly diverse scholarly community. At the same time, this overwhelming response resulted in strong competition for conference program space. For 2018 the overall proposal acceptance rate was under 50%. Within these constraints, we have done our utmost to balance representation across strands striving for proportionate acceptances and time on the program. We have also continued the shared short paper format initiated last year. Looking towards future conferences, the Executive Committee is also discussing other possible changes in presentation formats in light of increasing submissions. Read More.
From the Past President: The Immediate Past President's Role
What exactly does the Immediate Past President of AAAL do? This is a question I wondered about when I first agreed to run for office in AAAL. Fortunately, our Standing Rules provide clear information about several specific roles for all four years of service in the presidential line. The year of being Second Vice President is a period of enculturation and learning. Then the role of the First Vice President is hectic, with all the time-sensitive issues of planning and running the annual AAAL conference. Just when that responsibility is at its most frenetic, the First Vice President must appoint committee members and chairs for the coming year. Then, as President, he/she has numerous predictable duties as well as the responsibility of dealing with all sorts of unexpected issues that arise. Read More.
From a Member-At-Large: Ethics Guidelines Write Up
In September 2016, then President of AAAL, Kathleen Bailey, commissioned a task force that would look into the development of ethics guidelines to protect a vulnerable segment of our membership: emerging scholars. Particular focus was given to this group because emerging scholars are often faced with challenges and constraints in the multiple, and sometimes competing, roles of students, teachers, assistants, and researchers. Read More.
From the Graduate Student Council: A Graduate Student Council Steering Committee Update
The Steering Committee of the Graduate Student Council (GSC) has entered its third year as an officially recognized entity within AAAL. It is our hope to maintain what we have done previously and to improve with our new initiatives as we continue to serve and represent the AAAL graduate student body. In this article, we would like to detail some of the exciting avenues that we are currently pursuing. Read More.
Special Topic—A special interview with Osvaldo Aviles, one of the recipients of the Inaugural Distinguished Public Service Award
This upcoming March, AAAL will have the great opportunity to honor two individuals who have made a significant difference in their public service. On them is the Honorable Ida K. Chen who for over 25 years has devoted herself to advance the rights of individuals whose dominant language is not English. Judge Chen has worked to advocate for the use of qualified interpreters in court proceedings. Her accomplishments are vast and numerous, and we will learn more about them at the upcoming conference! Read More.
From ARAL--An Update
The Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (ARAL) has seen many changes over the past three volumes. In 2015, a new editor and editorial board began their terms, and the journal underwent changes in design and content. A contemporary cover and format were added, and the scope of publications was expanded to include position papers, shorter and longer reviews and original empirical papers. The focus of the 2015 issue, Identity in applied linguistics, was developed in order to correspond to the theme of AAAL's 2015 conference. The 2016 issue focused on Task-based language teaching and learning. That same year, 2016, ARAL also began to publish Blogs and ‘Extra Papers’ to extend the academic content available to AAAL members. Read More.
AAAL Resolution Procedures
The resolution process is an important means by which AAAL members can make their voices heard on issues internal to AAAL’s governance and operations. The Resolutions Committee is charged with the responsibility for processing all resolutions proposed by the membership before they are acted upon by the general business meeting of AAAL, including those calling for amendment to the Bylaws as outlined in Article XII: Amendments. The Resolutions Committee may also originate courtesy resolutions. Read More.
Another calendar year is almost coming to an end, and with it, we have an opportunity to reflect on past accomplishments and look forward to the exciting opportunities that the future brings!
As you will see in this last issue of the AAALetter for this year, much work has continued to unfold under the leadership of our President, Tim McNamara, and the work of the Executive Committee (EC). The Graduate Student Council, as we have acknowledged in our regular meetings throughout this past year, has been instrumental to the work of the EC. Their contribution to this issue highlights the vast array of work they do in support of graduate students wishing to stay connected and involved with AAAL!
Speaking of involvement, the contribution of our Past President, Kathi Bailey is perfectly timed as we work towards addressing questions from the membership in the area of diverse representation and recruitment of AAAL leaders! Members of the EC continue to work steadily at addressing concerns around the topic of diversity within AAAL in the various areas, including representation in leadership roles, participation in conferences, and related matters.
As readers may anticipate, arduous work has been unfolding under the leadership of 1st VP and Conference Chair, Linda Harklau who, in this issue, gives us a quick summary of the exciting sessions and plenaries we will enjoy in Chicago! The interest in participation continues to grow and the interest in becoming involved is certainly evident!
This issue of the AAALetter also points at some excellent resources available to you. Peter Da Costa, member-at-large, kindly contributed a piece on ethics guidelines available on our webpage. Please, help us disseminate these guidelines that address the work we need to consider in the three areas that matter as we socialize future applied linguists and develop future scholars: research, teaching and service.
I also invite you to read a special contribution by Mr. Osvaldo Aviles who is one of the recipients of the Inaugural Public Service Award. I promise you will find this interview both insightful and inspirational. It also underscores the work of applied linguists and contributions to society in preparing new generation of applied linguists.
Finally, I am very excited to also bring to you a contribution from the ARAL team! Alison Mackey, Kendall King and Lara Bryfonski offer an update on ARAL that you will not want to miss!
Happy reading and best wishes for 2018!
As we move towards the New Year and the forthcoming conference in Chicago, the Executive Committee of the Association has been working on a number of issues. At our recent mid-year meeting in Chicago, arguably the most important item on the agenda was the discussion of the set of sixteen specific issues identified by the Task Force on the Implementation on the Resolution on Diversity, whose members included Manka Varghese, Glenn Martinez, Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala, Peter De Costa, Laura Collins, and Kathi Bailey (Chair). It was extremely helpful to have such a specific set of points to consider.
I’m pleased to report that the discussion on the Executive was extensive and very constructive. The main outcome was a decision to create an Ad Hoc Committee, permitted under the Standing Rules of the Association, to advise the Executive Committee on the implementation of the Diversity Resolution. I have asked Peter De Costa to chair this committee. Its membership includes Suresh Canagarajah, Manka Varghese, Glenn Martinez, Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala, Liz Miller and Andrea Revesz, and two graduate student members from Peter’s institution, Dan Isbell and Christina Ponzio. Matters to be addressed by the Ad Hoc Committee include but are not limited to the following:
preparing questions on the implementation of the Diversity Resolution to be included in the bi-annual membership survey, specifically on how well AAAL has been addressing the issues in the 2013 Resolution and how best to address these issues
looking at mentoring models of other professional associations used in the mentoring of diverse doctoral candidates and early career scholars, with a view to introducing a similar program
looking at the conference programs from 2013-2017 (i.e., across five conferences) to see how and to what extent diverse topics have been discussed in AAAL presentations, including not only ethnic and linguistic diversity but also questions of sexual orientation, disability and so on
The Committee will report to forthcoming meetings of the Executive Committee, by Skype in January, and in person immediately before the conference in Chicago. In addition, the Executive Committee passed a resolution altering the Standing Rules of the Association in relation to the conference, to the effect that the organization of the conference, including the appointment of Strand Coordinators and Reviewers, should be informed by the Resolution on Diversity. Other changes involving the conference are that Conference Chairs will consider allowing submission and presentation in languages other than English; and that the Immediate Past President and a representative of the Graduate Student Council may serve in a consulting role to the Conference Chair.
It was noted that the existing plentiful opportunities for individuals of diverse backgrounds to be involved in the activities of AAAL are not being adequately communicated to the membership. We hope that this edition of the Newsletter will demonstrate the roles members may play in determining the direction of the Association. I hope you will agree that these outcomes represent a creative and appropriate response to the letter from the members. I am grateful to the signatories of the original letter for taking the initiative in raising their legitimate concerns with the Executive, an example of the way in which we believe that processes in the Association facilitate the voicing of the concerns of members, and acting upon them.
The AAAL 2018 Conference Team is hard at work finalizing plans for the Chicago conference. We were excited to receive nearly 2200 proposals this year, over 10% more than last year and up about 30% from four years ago. Proposals came in from scholars worldwide, reason to celebrate AAAL’s expanding and increasingly diverse scholarly community. At the same time, this overwhelming response resulted in strong competition for conference program space. For 2018 the overall proposal acceptance rate was under 50%. Within these constraints, we have done our utmost to balance representation across strands striving for proportionate acceptances and time on the program. We have also continued the shared short paper format initiated last year. Looking towards future conferences, the Executive Committee is also discussing other possible changes in presentation formats in light of increasing submissions.
We look forward to the wide-ranging field of plenaries and invited colloquia to be featured at this year’s conference. Our plenary speakers will include Ellen Bialystok speaking on the consequences of bilingualism for mind and brain; Eric Friginal on corpus-based approaches to analyzing cross-cultural professional communication; Susan Goldin-Meadow on the role of gesture in language use and thinking; Kim Potowski on language learning in dual immersion programs, and Steven L. Thorne on digital environments for language learning.
Colloquia will likewise cover a broad scope of topics including global hip-hop, eye-tracking research, current trends in vocabulary research, research and instructional approaches for refugee background language learners, the connection between language policy and assessment, systemic functional linguistic research in classrooms, and globalization and pragmatics.
Other featured events at the conference will include an address by the first recipient of AAAL’s new Distinguished Public Service Award, and a special screening of Talking Black in America, a new documentary funded by the National Science Foundation and produced by Walt Wolfram and colleagues.
The 2018 conference will also feature several events for students. Friday night will feature an informal meet and greet where students can drop by the lobby and bar area to network and socialize. A “Conference Connections” activity will link graduate students and faculty mentors. Another session, led by Luke Plonsky and colleagues, will provide master’s students and interested faculty advisors with information and tips about applying to doctoral programs in applied linguistics. The Graduate Student Council is also initiating a contest this fall to design a AAAL T-shirt. The winning design will be featured on T-shirts available at the conference. Look for them at the registration desk when you check in; proceeds will benefit Graduate Student Council activities.
The conference venue this year is the Sheraton Grand Chicago, located downtown within walking distance of world-class restaurants, cultural attractions including the Art Institute and other museums, the Lake Michigan waterfront, and shops. Chicago is also well known for its architectural walking tours and live music venues, especially jazz and blues. TESOL will be holding its annual convention in Chicago immediately following our conference.
As of this writing, registration has just opened. Two pre-conference workshop offerings are available. Dr. Trena Paulus will be leading a workshop exploring digital tools for qualitative research, and Dr. Eunice Eunhee Jang will lead an exploration of mixed methods research design typologies and analytic approaches. Look for these when you register and sign up early—space is limited and likely to fill quickly.
Given the uncertain status of the U.S. government’s proposed travel visa restriction policies, we are making contingency plans to help presenters who may be affected (from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Venezuela) to present by alternate means. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
A reminder that individuals or groups who wish to use rooms at the conference venue for meetings outside the conference program can make requests via AAAL’s Meeting Request Formand send it to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Finally, I’d also like to recognize the very talented and hard-working members of this year’s Conference Committee: Lei Jiang, Rhia Moreno Kilpatrick (Assistant Conference Chair), Nicole Siffrinn, and Jason Mizell.
We look forward to seeing you in Chicago at #AAAL2018
What exactly does the Immediate Past President of AAAL do? This is a question I wondered about when I first agreed to run for office in AAAL. Fortunately, our Standing Rules provide clear information about several specific roles for all four years of service in the presidential line. The year of being Second Vice President is a period of enculturation and learning. Then the role of the First Vice President is hectic, with all the time-sensitive issues of planning and running the annual AAAL conference. Just when that responsibility is at its most frenetic, the First Vice President must appoint committee members and chairs for the coming year. Then, as President, he/she has numerous predictable duties as well as the responsibility of dealing with all sorts of unexpected issues that arise.
So is the Immediate Past President like a senior statesperson, who can relax and rest on his or her laurels? Hardly. Here are some of the duties of the Immediate Past President.
First, according to the AAAL Standing Rules, the Immediate Past President serves on the Executive Committee and supports the President in any number of roles. In the absence of the President and first Vice President, the Immediate Past President presides over Executive Committee meetings.
The Immediate Past President is also a member of the Budget Committee, along with the President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, and the Director of the Business Office. This important committee convenes before every meeting of the Executive Committee. In addition, he/she also helps the Secretary-Treasurer and the AAAL staff members to select a future conference site.
The Immediate Past President is a nonvoting member of the Nominating Committee and the Distinguished Scholarship and Service Award Committee. With regard to the Nominating Committee, the Immediate Past President helps the other committee members see the big picture of leadership within AAAL He/she serves as a liaison to the Executive Committee and oversees changes to the Nominating Committee Procedures Manual.
In addition, the Immediate Past President serves as an ex officio member of the new Public Affairs and Engagement Committee. This group works to identify non-AAAL members who raise public awareness of language-related issues.
In each of these roles, the Immediate Past President provides guidance and some institutional memory. I want to acknowledge the support and guidance given to me by Aneta Pavlenko and Paul Matsuda, the two Immediate Past Presidents with whom I have worked most closely over these past few years.
As I approach my last four months in this position, I must acknowledge what a wonderful experience it has been to serve AAAL in the presidential line. I want to encourage AAAL members who are interested in leadership opportunities (and have sufficient time to dedicate to AAAL) to consider expressing an interest in serving on the Executive Committee or in some other leadership capacity. Doing so leads to amazing opportunities for growth and networking.
In September 2016, then President of AAAL, Kathleen Bailey, commissioned a task force that would look into the development of ethics guidelines to protect a vulnerable segment of our membership: emerging scholars. Particular focus was given to this group because emerging scholars are often faced with challenges and constraints in the multiple, and sometimes competing, roles of students, teachers, assistants, and researchers.
The task force was made up of the following AAAL members:
Peter De Costa, Chair
Michigan State University
Georgia State University
University of British Columbia
Michigan State University
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
University of Arizona
University of New South Wales
To ensure that a diverse set of perspectives would be represented in the design of the guidelines, a deliberate attempt was made to recruit task force members from different countries. The task force also comprised of members who were at various stages of their careers, ranging from graduate students to senior scholars in the field.
Following the constitution of the task force, the team created ethics guidelines in relation to three broad areas: research, teaching and service. Through an iterative process, drafts of these guidelines were presented to and discussed by the AAAL Executive Committee. An advanced draft of the guidelines was subsequently made available to all AAAL members in April 2017, and feedback was elicited through an online survey. The survey feedback turned out to be highly insightful, generating input from a wide band of members including colleagues who worked in adjunct positions and who hailed from different corners of the world. Their helpful comments were subsequently incorporated into a revised version of the guidelines that was approved by the AAAL Executive Committee in September 2017.
To view the guidelines, go to: http://www.aaal.org/page/EthicsGuidelines
The task force would like to thank AAAL members and the Executive Committee for their invaluable input. We hope that the guidelines created by AAAL members for AAAL members will provide guidance on ethical practice toward and among emerging applied linguists as they prepare for professional and academic careers.
The Steering Committee of the Graduate Student Council (GSC) has entered its third year as an officially recognized entity within AAAL. It is our hope to maintain what we have done previously and to improve with our new initiatives as we continue to serve and represent the AAAL graduate student body. In this article, we would like to detail some of the exciting avenues that we are currently pursuing.
Connecting and providing professional development opportunities outside of the AAAL conference continues to be one of our top priorities. As such, this year we have developed the AAAL GSC website that provides information about our organization, events and useful resources for graduate students. The website is very close to completion and we aim to complete the website construction in December. If you have any feedback regarding on our website, please contact us and let us know.
Another communication initiative we have launched this year is a webinar series for graduate students. We will host webinars on a variety of topics to help graduate students navigate their academic lives, to provide professional development, and to engage students in topical discussions related to applied linguistics. The first GSC webinar will take place on Monday, November 13th, 2:20PM to 4:00 PM (US Eastern Time). For this webinar, we have invited two scholars and one doctoral student to share their experiences and insight in writing effective grant proposals. All AAAL members are welcome to register and participate in this webinar. You may find additional information regarding this webinar event in this flyer.
The GSC will host webinar events like this throughout the following year. The next webinar “Meet an AAAL Scholar” is currently being planned and will be hosted in January 2018. This webinar will provide an opportunity for graduate students to meet an applied linguistics scholar and to engage in discussions on critical topics in the field. If you would like to suggest topics and panelists for our upcoming webinars, please email us at email@example.com.
This November, we will publish our third edition of AAALgrads, our student-run newsletter which is published bi-annually, one edition in the Fall and the other in the Spring. As with previous editions, the current co-editors, Rayoung Song (University of Massachusetts-Amherst) and Jessica Lian (Georgia State University) have been working with graduate students from various institutions to craft content articles discussing a range of topics related to graduate student experiences. This fall, we received more submissions than we could accommodate, and are excited to see the newsletter continue to expand and to engage with topics that are relevant and important to graduate students.
Graduate Student Conference Events at AAAL 2018
At AAAL 2018 in Chicago there will be several events for graduate students. One event is designed to create a space for M.A. students. This session will be organized and chaired by Dr. Luke Plonsky (Georgetown University) and will focus on identifying, applying for, and getting accepted to doctoral programs in applied linguistics. Dr. Plonsky will be working with two Ph.D. students, Dan Isbell (Michigan State University) and Aysenur Sagdic (Georgetown University), in preparing this event. In addition, the GSC will organize and lead three events designed by and for graduate student. The first event will be a “Grad Students Meet and Greet,” which will be held on Friday night at the conference hotel and will be a chance for graduate students to get to know other grads with similar professional interests. The next event – held on Saturday, March 24 – will be a workshop to present the newly endorsed AAAL Ethics Guidelines. Organized by Peter De Costa (Michigan State University), Michael Amory (The Pennsylvania State University), David Chiesa (Georgia State University), and Wendy Li (Michigan State University), this session will provide a space for graduate students to engage with the guidelines created by the AAAL Ethics Taskforce, as they "provide..."as they “provide guidance on ethical practice toward and among graduate students” in three areas: research, teaching, and service. Our final event – held Sunday, March 25 – will be a roundtable session geared toward graduate students at all stages. Organized by Ai-Chu Ding (Indiana University-Bloomington), Laura Hamman (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and Rayoung Song (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), this session will provide opportunities for graduate students to interact in small groups with invited panelists, who will address crucial topics that arise during the doctoral journey, such as: publications, grant proposal writing, the job search, and strategies for leading a more effective and productive doctoral student life.
Finally, the GSC will lead a new initiative to raise more funds for graduate students. With the support of the Executive Committee, this year the AAAL GSC Steering Committee is organizing a t-shirt fundraiser. These t-shirts will be sold at AAAL 2018 and proceeds from the sale will be used to provide more funding for graduate student awards. The GSC will soon release a call to graduate students for the design competition. We hope you will consider submitting a t-shirt design!
Stay Connected with the GSC
Serving on the GSC Steering Committee has been a rewarding and enjoyable experience for both of us. We are both honored to be able to serve not only within our own respective home institutions, but also in the broader AAAL community. The GSC Steering Committee will continue to advocate for graduate students. To that end, we would love to hear from you regarding additional initiatives that you would like to see us undertake. If you have any questions and/or feedback for the GSC Steering Committee, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about our events and to stay up-to-date with what the GSC is planning, we encourage you to follow us on our social media outlets: Twitter, Instagram, and AAALgrads Facebook page.
Michael Amory is currently a PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics at The Pennsylvania State University. Michael serves as the secretary for the GSC Steering Committee. His responsibilities include: taking and maintaining meeting minutes, distributing minutes after each meeting with actionable items, managing the GSC Steering Committee database, and collaborating in the planning of conference events for graduate students.
Ai-Chu (Elisha) Ding is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University-Bloomington with dual major in Literacy, Culture and Language Education and Instructional Systems Technology. Her responsibilities in the GSC Steering Committee include: overseeing all aspects of the GSC’s social media, recruiting and leading a team of student volunteers to grow GSC social media presence, developing and managing the GSC website, and organizing and assisting in GSC conference events.
This upcoming March, AAAL will have the great opportunity to honor two individuals who have made a significant difference in their public service.
On them is the Honorable Ida K. Chen who for over 25 years has devoted herself to advance the rights of individuals whose dominant language is not English. Judge Chen has worked to advocate for the use of qualified interpreters in court proceedings. Her accomplishments are vast and numerous, and we will learn more about them at the upcoming conference!
The other individual who will be recognized with this award, and who has worked closely with the Hon. Ida K. Chen, is Mr. Osvaldo Aviles, Interpreter Program Administrator. In order to help us understand the work they have accomplished together and with others, Mr. Aviles has graciously agreed to an e-interview with me, and responded to some questions that the AAAL readership will no doubt find both insightful and inspirational. As you will see below, Mr. Aviles helps us develop a keen understanding for the role of applied linguists in society.
- Can you tell us a little about your work? What is your typical workday like?
As the Pennsylvania Interpreter Certification Program Administrator, my main responsibility is managing the credentialing of interpreters for the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania and maintaining a roster of qualified interpreters. The job consists of planning, scheduling, and implementing the annual calendar of events entailing the credentialing process which consists of registering with the program, attending a two-day orientation, passing a written exam, and an oral examination according to the regulations. The program also provides assistance to the judicial districts in locating interpreters for languages not available in the roster. It maintains a bank of resources that is made available to the courts whenever there are no resources in the roster for a particular language. We also advise judicial districts on interpreter matters including the proper role, use, appointment, and management of resources. And we mediate when conflicts occur between users and providers and enforce the regulations. The program also provides regular training for the judiciary, court administrators, judicial and district staff, interpreters, attorneys, community organizations and other stakeholders about all matters pertaining to interpreters and language access issues. In addition, the Pennsylvania courts are currently in the midst of implementing a statewide Language Access Plan (LAP). As the interpreter program administrator, I am part of the staff serving in the Monitoring and Evaluation Team (MET) tasked with implementing the plan. Besides my overall advisory role in the group and to the Court Access Coordinator, who is directly in charge of the implementation process, I am in charge of the translation sub-group whose task consists of establishing a system for identifying and prioritizing the translation of vital forms for the entire Unified Judicial System. I also represent Pennsylvania in the Council of Language Access Coordinators (CLAC), a nationwide group of program managers and language coordinators affiliated with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), which serves as an advisory group to the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) and the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) of the United States in matters of language access.
On a typical day, I handle inquiries from the judicial districts about matters ranging from locating interpreter resources for an uncommon language, inquiries on whether to appoint an interpreter in a particular situation, who should pay for the interpreter, and complaints about interpreter billing or alleged unethical behavior. I also deal with issues related to the scheduling or administration of exams and other program events. I may also spend time contracting with raters for the oral examinations or with trainers for our orientations and skill-building workshops. I will also reply to inquiries from potential candidates interested in becoming credentialed through the program and requests for approval of continuing education credits for interpreters renewing their certification. Lately I spend a fair amount of time working with members of the MET and staff on matters pertaining to the implementation of the statewide LAP.
- What made you so passionate about language access in the judicial system?
While working as a paralegal at Community Legal Services (CLS), an organization which represents low- and middle-income residents in Philadelphia, I was often asked to interpret for not only my own clients, but for all of the other attorneys whose clients were limited English proficient (LEP) in a variety of matters ranging from unemployment compensation to social security benefits hearings. It quickly became apparent that there was a lack of access and regard for the due process rights of LEP persons. It inspired me to become a certified interpreter and later take a position as a full-time staff interpreter with the Philadelphia courts. It was at that staff interpreter position where for fourteen years I had a first-hand opportunity to learn about the limitations that LEP persons face when trying to obtain services and stand for their rights. As a result of these experiences I became convinced of the need to improve language access in the justice system. I decided then to make a career out of placing LEP persons on a level playing field and giving them an opportunity to be heard in order to secure their rights by providing adequate language access services.
- What are your proudest accomplishments to date and how do they compare to what is happening in other states?
The successful establishment of the Pennsylvania Interpreter Certification Program has been my proudest accomplishment to date. Starting from scratch, and following a model established by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), we have been able to develop a roster of certified and qualified interpreters to serve our sixty judicial districts. Currently there are around 200 interpreters representing 35 languages in the roster. Considering we started this endeavor much later than many other states, we have been able to catch-up relatively quickly to the point that we are able to routinely satisfy the need for interpreters in the majority of the top ten languages most often needed by the courts. And our program has in turn become a model for others to follow. It also gives me a great deal of satisfaction to have been able to raise the awareness of judges, court administrators, attorneys and other community stakeholders about the proper role and use of interpreters. The educational component of our program has been very important not only for users of interpreter services but for the interpreters themselves. When we started the program, there were no educational opportunities or training available for aspiring interpreter candidates in the state. And there was a big misconception about the role of interpreters in our judicial system. Our program has been able to encourage local colleges and professional organizations to start offering skill-building workshops and training for interpreters. And continuing education requirements for renewal of credentials has reinforced the need for on-going training. All this contributed to changing the perception about the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities required of professional interpreters. It has helped to redefine the understanding of what it means to be a professional interpreter in our state.
- What in your view still remains to be done and what are some of the bigger challenges you face?
Probably the biggest challenge we still face is developing interpreter resources in some of the languages of more common diffusion in our state. And in this we have good company as most of the other state members of CLAC face the same issues. Languages like Arabic, Korean and Vietnamese have low passing rates in our qualification exams. Despite the number of test takers, on average only 10 percent of candidates in these languages pass the tests and successfully complete all requirements. This in spite concerted efforts to offer training. Both NCSC and CLAC continue to work together to develop alternatives to improve these statistics. To this we can add the rapidly growing language diversity in our country. Keeping up with demand for languages like Nepali, Mixteco, Farsi, or Karen is an almost daily challenge.
Another challenge is trying to overcome certain deeply ingrained beliefs and perceptions about foreign language speakers. Mostly that they somehow refuse to learn and speak English for selfish reasons or try to hide behind the language in order to avoid legal consequences. We have to constantly remind our audiences at trainings that due process is guaranteed by the Constitution to all without regard to the language they speak. And that regardless of the language a person speaks, everyone is entitled to be present, effectively participate, and to understand what is happening in their case in court.
- How can applied linguists contribute to greater equity in language access?
Applied linguists can help to better explain the relationship among national origin, culture and language. By defining and explaining this interrelationship linguists can help judicial systems in this country to understand the importance of language access.
Linguists can work with the courts to help create effective documents using plain English. They could also work with translators to produce accurate and effective translations of the same documents into the most common languages in each jurisdiction. This would help both native and non-native speakers of English to understand legal documents and help them to better navigate the court system. They can also help train judicial personnel to communicate more effectively with the public by using more plain language to provide information.
By providing expert testimony or forensic analysis about foreign language usage, structure, grammar and vocabulary that are difficult to replicate and express in English, applied linguists can help judges to better understand why a foreign language speaker may have difficulty expressing, explaining or understanding certain concepts common in this country but which may not exist in their native culture; or how a foreign language speaker’s attitudes and beliefs may be dictated by culture, language or national origin.
Linguists can also help interpreters to improve their skills and prepare for assignments in certain specialized fields like law and medicine by providing insights and linguistic knowledge about proper translation of specialized vocabulary and developing training to familiarize interpreters with them. They can also assist interpreters to reconcile the terminology of foreign legal systems versus the American legal system in order to establish better and more effective translation of those terms.
Applied linguists can help the court develop more effective and practical language policies by helping the court understand the language needs of specific populations and language groups.
The Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (ARAL) has seen many changes over the past three volumes. In 2015, a new editor and editorial board began their terms, and the journal underwent changes in design and content. A contemporary cover and format were added, and the scope of publications was expanded to include position papers, shorter and longer reviews and original empirical papers. The focus of the 2015 issue, Identity in applied linguistics, was developed in order to correspond to the theme of AAAL's 2015 conference. The 2016 issue focused on Task-based language teaching and learning. That same year, 2016, ARAL also began to publish Blogs and ‘Extra Papers’ to extend the academic content available to AAAL members.
Volume 37 (2017) on Younger Second Language Learners is currently available, and explores the theme of child second language acquisition from a wide range of disciplinary and context perspectives. AAAL members can read papers by: Nelson Flores, Ofelia García, Judit Kormos, Asta Cekaite, Rhonda Oliver, Agurtzane Azkarai, Eva Alcón-Soler, Gigliana Melzi, Adina R. Schick, Kelly Escobar, María del Pilar Garcâ Mayo, Udane Loidi Labandibar, Casey Lew-Williams, Johanne Paradis, Brian Rusk, Tamar Sorenson Duncan, Krithika Govindarajan, Camen Muñoz, Kate Menken, Sharon Avni, Virginia P. Collier, Wayne P. Thomas, Jeff MacSwan, Marilyn S. Thompson, Kellie Rolstad, Kara McAlister, Gerda Lobo, Alison L. Bailey, Tara W. Fortune, and Zhongkui Ju (listed here in order of appearance). All AAAL members have online access to the journal as part of their membership. Furthermore, a list of all topics covered by ARAL in previous years of its history can be found on the website.
ARAL’s theme for 2018 will be International language learning. For this issue, the term broadly construed and taken up to mean language learning through intensive short-term, long-term or permanent immersion in a new national context. The issue will include research carried out in a wide range of settings, including the various study abroad contexts for secondary and tertiary education students; home environments (including international adoptions and family reunification); work on policy and theory as it relates to international language learning and teaching, including immigration and migrant research, as well as meta-analytic and synthesis work on international educational findings and outcomes.
We are pleased to report that this year the journal’s impact factor rose substantially. ARAL is now ranked 12th of 180 linguistics journals (up from 80th). Additionally, authors are now asked to upload their materials to IRIS (Instrument Repository for Research into Second Languages), and we are doing the necessary preparation work so that ARAL 2018 can adopt the open materials badge (via disclosure), and also comply with the Center for Open Science initiative’s TOP (Transparency and Openness Promotion) Guidelines, self-described as “a community-driven effort to align scientific ideals with actual practices.” These exciting new updates to ARAL can be expected in the 2018 issue.