AAALetter - June 2015


Volume 27, Number 5

Table of Contents

To read each article in full, please click on the linked title.

1. From the President

Paul Kei Matsuda, who chaired the annual conference in Toronto, began his one-year term as the president. In this article, he reflects on the Toronto conference and highlights a few of the key developments in the recent months.

2. 2015 Graduate Student Award Recipients

The six recipients of the 2015 Graduate Student Awards (GSA), including the Multilingual Matters Award, the Educational Testing Service Award, and the Wilga Rivers Awards, share their thoughts on the award and the annual conference in Toronto.

3. Why FFAL?

The Fund for the Future of Applied Linguistics (FFAL), initiated in 2000, has provided the Graduate Student Awards (GSA) for the last fifteen years. The FFAL Board of Trustees summarizes the results of the recent survey of past award recipients. The board was also able to interview 19 past award recipients during the annual conference in Toronto.

4. Graduate Student Council Being Established!

In May, the membership approved a change to the association’s bylaws to establish a new Graduate Student Council (GSC), which replaced the Ad Hoc Graduate Student Committee founded in 2013. The GSC co-chairs, Daniel Ginsberg and Nicole Pettitt, report GSC activities underway.

5. Plans for the 2016 AAAL Conference: "Applied Linguistics Applied"

The 2016 AAAL Conference chair, Kathleen M. Bailey, discusses some highlights of the conference to be held in Orlando, Florida from April 9 through 12. The conference theme, “Applied Linguistics Applied,” is intended to emphasize the many ways in which our profession and our disciplines address language-related problems in the world today.

6. New members of the leadership team

Members of the Executive and Standing Committees change every spring. The article introduces newly appointed chairs of the Standing Committees. On a related note, please remember to cast your vote for this month’s election!

From the President

Dear AAAL members,

The 2015 AAAL conference in Toronto, held jointly with the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics/L'Association canadienne de linguistique appliquée (ACLA), was a resounding success. The total registration figure was 1,665. The program included nearly 3,000 presenters in 974 sessions, including 6 plenary talks, 7 invited colloquia, 30 colloquia, 704 papers, 87 posters and 140 roundtable presentations. There also were two joint sessions—one with ACLA and the International Language Testing Association (ILTA)—and two graduate student sessions. The number of proposals received was 1,725 for papers and 59 for colloquia, with the overall acceptance rate of 41% (41% for papers only and 49% for colloquia only). The large number of strong proposals seems to suggest that AAAL and the field of applied linguistics are continuing to grow strong.





As the 2015 conference chair, I could not be more pleased with the outcomes. As with any other conference, the success of year’s conference was a result of the collaboration of many individuals. The Organizing Committee members—Youmie Kim, Junghwa Kim and Sarah Snyder—worked tirelessly throughout the year. The AAAL Business Office staff—Sarah Berke, Dawn James and Ellen Shea—provided outstanding support in coordinating various aspects of the conference operation. My predecessors—Aneta Pavlenko and Joan Kelly Hall—also provided much information, insights and moral support throughout the process. I would like to thank them again for all that they have done to make AAAL 2015 a great conference!

At the colloquium on the history of applied linguistics, some of the participants pointed out the need for a definition of applied linguistics. Although AAAL included a description in its mission statement, it had never been formally adopted as the official definition. At the April meeting, the Executive Committee discussed, revised and approved the following as the official definition of applied linguistics by AAAL :

Applied Linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of inquiry that addresses a broad range of language-related issues in order to understand their roles in the lives of individuals and conditions in society. It draws on a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches from various disciplines—from the humanities to the social and natural sciences—as it develops its own knowledge-base about language, its users and uses, and their underlying social and material conditions.

This definition is intentionally broad and inclusive to create a space to facilitate the discussion of various language-related issues as they affect language users and society from various theoretical and methodological perspectives. I hope this definition will help foster a sense of identity among applied linguists and raise the public awareness of who we are and what we do.

In addition, the Executive Committee has approved the AAAL Promotion and Tenure Guidelines to support the career advancement of those who have research-oriented tenure-track positions in the United States. This document not only provides a vision for the professional work of applied linguists researchers but also offers insights that can help non-applied linguist colleagues understand our professional values and practices as they evaluate promotion and tenure cases. This thoughtful and well-crafted document was developed by a taskforce led by Aneta Pavlenko. I would like to thank Aneta and the taskforce for their hard work in developing this important document.

Another exciting development is the creation of the Graduate Student Council. For the last few years, a group of graduate students have been working as part of the Ad Hoc Graduate Student Committee to help organize graduate student sessions at AAAL conferences and to mobilize graduate students and their allies in helping the organization better address the needs of graduate students. With the creation of the Graduate Student Council, we now have a more stable structure to support the work and professional development of graduate students. Congratulations, graduate students, and thank you for your contribution to AAAL!

This is an exciting year for me—to be serving AAAL in this important capacity as the organization continues to evolve in response to the voice of the membership. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you in helping this organization thrive! 

Paul Kei Matsuda, Arizona State University

2015 Graduate Student Award Recipients

At our annual conference in Toronto, the following six recipients of the 2015 Graduate Student Awards (GSA) were recognized for their accomplishments. The 2015 GSA were made possible by AAAL members’ contributions to the Fund for the Future of Applied Linguistics (FFAL), as well as the generous support of Multilingual Matters, Educational Testing Service, and the estate of Wilga Rivers. The recipients’ names and affiliations are followed by the titles of their papers and their remarks.


(From left to right in the photo)

Aziz Ullah Khan, The University of Auckland | The Multilingual Matters Award 

“Unpeeling, Slicing, and Stirring the Onion: Ethnography of Language Policy in Rural Primary Schools in Pakistan”

It was a matter of great honour and immense privilege for me to receive the Multilingual Matters Award for the AAAL 2015 conference. The award enabled me to come all the way from New Zealand to present a part of my doctoral research. This being my first attendance, I was overwhelmed by the extensive and stimulating opportunities the conference provided me to not only get constructive feedback on my study but also benefit from some exciting research being carried out in my field of interest. I look forward to attending the future AAAL conferences.

Dorothy L. Worden, Penn State University | The Educational Testing Service Award

“Inventing the Analytic Essay: L2 Writing Teachers’ Pedagogical Genre Knowledge in Development”

My experiences at the 2015 conference strongly reflected its theme of identité(s). This theme was present in the plenaries, colloquia, and other sessions I attended and in the many ongoing discussions about how we define ourselves as researchers and public advocates. Such conversations led me to reflect on the ways AAAL has shaped my own developing identity as an applied linguist since I first attended as a new graduate student in the field. I was honored to have my work recognized by an organization that has been so influential for me over the years. Thank you.

Sara E.N. Kangas, Temple University | The Wilga Rivers Award

“Divorcing Language and Disability: Educating ELs with Special Needs in a Two-Way Bilingual School"

When I received word that I was awarded the 2015 Wilga Rivers Award, I was just days away from submitting my dissertation to my committee. Hearing this good news gave me the much-needed encouragement I needed to push through final revisions. But, receiving this award was not merely a confidence booster; it reinforced for me the significance of my research agenda on ELLs with special needs. I am both honored by this award and thankful that through it the needs of a vulnerable population of language learners received greater attention in AAAL at this year’s conference.

In Chull Jang, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

“When They Cannot Talk with Native Speakers” Authenticity and the Commodification of Language and Culture in English Study-Abroad in Toronto” 

While studying in North America as an international student, I often engage in an ongoing but unanswerable dialogue with inside-me. Between denial and affirmation on my self and my research, the reception of the GSA encourages me to have confidence in where I am heading. I also appreciate inspiring and supportive conversations and feedback in the Toronto conference. The heated intellectual and personal exchanges actually thawed frozen Toronto, so I felt that spring was coming to the North in this unexpected place.

Elizabeth Ann Hepford, Temple University

“Who are the Translations for?: A Case Study of Business Language Policy”

I’d like to thank the GSA Committee and the AAAL organization as a whole for the award I received this year. I think I speak for all graduate students in expressing my gratitude for the support that AAAL provides us in the forms of conferences, the Ad Hoc Graduate Student Committee, online resources and support networks. This year’s conference allowed me to hear the latest work being done in my research area and connect with colleagues from around the world. My congratulations to the planning committee for a well-planned and intellectually stimulating conference!

Staci Defibaugh, University of Illinois

“The ‘Good Diabetic’ and the ‘Competent Provider’: Identity Construction in Medical Encounters”

The 2015 AAAL conference in Toronto was an incredibly rewarding experience. As always, the conference included many excellent plenaries, presentations, and engaging discussions. The range of research topics highlighted at AAAL is one of the reasons I continue to come back. This year was particularly special for me. Receiving the GSA and being acknowledged by such an outstanding and distinguished community of scholars was truly an honor. I would like to thank the GSA Committee for the award as well as the AAAL community of researchers who continue to inspire me. 

The GSA Committee was chaired by Shawn Loewen (Michigan State University) and included Kate Menken (City University of New York), Elena Schmitt (Southern Connecticut State University), Sedef Uzuner Smith (Lamar University) and Shelley Staples (Purdue University). 

For more information about the awards, eligibility and guidelines, visit

We also encourage all members to consider contributing to FFAL, which makes these awards possible. For more information regarding FFAL, please visit


Most AAAL members are familiar with the Fund for the Future of Applied Linguistics (FFAL) from previous AAALetter articles and presentations at annual conferences. The fund was initiated in 2000 as a means of increasing support for persons new in the field of applied linguistics through graduate student travel awards. The original vision was that over time such an award would enhance the profession and increase the number of productive professionals in this growing field. The strategy was to designate groups of promising new scholars each year, give them the opportunity to attend the AAAL annual conference and in doing so give them recognition from winning a competitive award.

The FFAL Board of Trustees is the body charged with overseeing the program. As with any such program, after some years of operation, questions arise about the extent to which the vision is being realized and the strategy is working. For FFAL questions include whether or not graduate students are aware of the program, how easy they find the application process, and especially what the awards have meant to them both initially and subsequently. With such questions in mind, the FFAL Board decided to conduct a survey of past recipients of these awards. A check of AAAL records determined that 85 persons had received awards. Of these, the AAAL Business Office was able to locate 70 with current addresses. A short questionnaire was sent to all 70 in late 2014, and 36 were returned completed. Along with the survey, respondents were invited to be interviewed at the 2015 AAAL annual conference in Toronto if they planned to attend and 19 agreed to do so. They represented a range of award years.

This article summarizes the responses to the survey and reports a sample of some of the comments made by those who were interviewed. A significant finding from the survey was that although all 36 respondents were students at the time they received their award, 25 now hold the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor or an equivalent position. Another four are PhD candidates and seven hold a variety of other positions such as research assistant, editor, director of testing or accreditation coordinator. In almost all cases they have maintained their memberships in AAAL and, except when funding has prevented it, many have continued to attend AAAL conferences, frequently presenting. The survey responses also indicated that the awards were “incredibly” or “extremely” valuable to respondents, in both the funding and the prestige.

The interviews which were held in March in Toronto yielded even more helpful information supporting the value of the FFAL program. All interviewed reported that the award represented a great honor to them because of the recognition by the association. Typical comments were the following:

“Receiving this prestigious award was personally and professionally invaluable because of the recognition that came with it.”

“It is one of the most prestigious graduate student awards in applied linguistics, gave recognition of my research and was extremely valuable for my future career.”

A secondary but no doubt equally important benefit cited was the role the award played in applying for academic positions. Such comments were:

“I was able to highlight this award in my application for positions and was told that it contributed to my selection for interviews.”

“Being able to list this award from a well-respected organization in my field did add value to my CV in relation to future employment as well as other award/grant applications.”

All added how much the award meant to them in terms of recognition within the association and by the professional community:

“After being announced as a winner of the award at the conference a number of scholars who I had only known from the literature came up to meet me and to discuss my work.”

“When I spoke to some of the publishers at the conference that year about possible outlets for my work they said that they knew who I was because of seeing me listed as an award winner.”

In discussing FFAL in general with these award winners from over the years, they were unanimous in saying that the application process is not burdensome and that they now regularly encourage graduate students to apply. Because there had been some discussion within the FFAL Board about the level and number of awards, these questions were raised during the interviews as well. Most years the award has carried an $800 stipend and provided free registration to the conference. There have been no more than six awards in a year. All responded that even today the $800 award is generous and that if increasing that amount meant reducing the number of awards they would see that as a negative development both for graduate students and for AAAL.

Board members took the occasion of the interviews to also seek from these winners some ideas for creating more visibility for the FFAL program and for fund raising. The awardees provided a number of suggestions which can be explored as we move into the coming year and beyond. In terms of increasing contributions to FFAL, they indicated that they are happy to now be in a position to contribute and pledged to do whatever they could to encourage greater contributions from the membership as a whole.

Overall, this exercise proved to be very valuable by validating FFAL as an important feature of AAAL. The responses obtained from previous awardees indicate that the FFAL is fulfilling its role as a means of recognizing and supporting graduate students and as the title indicates supporting the future of applied linguistics.

— Paul Angelis, Southern Illinois University
— Carol A. Chapelle, Iowa State University
— Donna Christian, Center for Applied Linguistics

Graduate Student Council Being Established!

Last month, a new AAAL Graduate Student Council (GSC) was established when the membership approved a change to the association’s bylaws. The new GSC now becomes a standing part of the organization, replacing the Ad Hoc Graduate Student Committee, which was founded in 2013. The GSC will continue to work closely with the Executive Committee, and our new status will allow us to set more long-term goals related to the professional needs expressed by AAAL graduate student members.

The GSC Steering Committee: (left to right) Elena Shvidko, Daniel Ginsberg (co-chair), Nicole Pettitt (co-chair), Abram Jones (secretary). Not pictured: Emily Hellmich

In line with what we’ve heard from you, our graduate student constituency, the top priority for the 2015-16 academic year is to create more service and leadership opportunities for grad students within AAAL. We will continue to offer multiple professionalization workshops at the 2016 conference, and to connect with you through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and our blog — but this year, we are also using these projects as a way to invite more members to work with the GSC and gain valuable professional leadership experience. A survey recently went out for graduate student members who, at the 2015 annual conference, expressed an interest in volunteering during the upcoming year. As we have capacity, we’ll be inviting respondents to join new committees for conference planning and communications.

Service opportunities will also be available on new projects. Thanks to the efforts of 2016 conference chair, Kathi Bailey, and previous Executive Committee leaders, a few student volunteers will have the opportunity to interview the plenary speakers and the DSSA winner at the 2016 conference, which will provide not only a lasting record of the conference itself, but also a unique opportunity for students to get to know senior scholars in the field. The GSC will also connect the Executive Committee to graduate students so that our voice can be represented in Executive Committee initiatives, continuing work that we have begun by participating on task forces on pre-conference workshops and online communities.

To support this expanded role, the GSC is also beginning a strategic planning process in order to articulate a list of program priorities and a vision for graduate student engagement in AAAL. We mean for this process to help us create an institutional identity for the GSC, which will drive our work within AAAL, and thereby support AAAL’s commitment to the future of the discipline.

All of these opportunities have been made possible through the untiring work of many AAAL leaders. We’d like to acknowledge Sara Kangas and Matt Jadlocki, the former co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Grad Student Committee, for their untiring work toward establishing permanent graduate student leadership within AAAL. Of course, the support and vision of the Executive Committee was vital in establishing graduate student leadership at the outset, as well as during the by-laws process; for this we are especially indebted to Aneta Pavlenko and Joan Kelly Hall. Additionally, we’d like to thank Lucy Pickering, who plays a pivotal role as the liaison between the GSC and Executive Committee, and Sarah Berke, our association manager, for her valuable insights and her efforts on our behalf.

Finally, we’d like to thank the entire AAAL membership for voting to establish a permanent graduate student leadership presence within AAAL -- and to the current AAAL leadership, especially Paul Kei Matsuda and Kathi Bailey, for welcoming the GSC so warmly. We’re looking forward to some exciting work together!

As always, we would love to hear from you, the graduate student membership. Any questions or comments that you have about the GSC, serving on the GSC, or the work we do are welcome. You can email us at or send us a private message on our Facebook page:

— Daniel Ginsberg, Georgetown University
— Nicole Pettitt, Georgia State University

Plans for the 2016 AAAL Conference: "Applied Linguistics Applied"

It is my great honor to be the chairperson for the 2016 AAAL Conference, which will take place in Orlando, Florida from April 9 through 12. The conference theme, “Applied Linguistics Applied,” is intended to emphasize the many ways in which our profession and our disciplines address language-related problems in the world today.

I’m very excited about the team that has agreed to serve as the Conference Program Committee. In addition to John Hedgcock, Tim Marquette (right in the photo), and Thor Sawin (left in the photo) (my colleagues here at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey), David Chiesa, a doctoral candidate at Georgia State University is helping with the planning. I chose these people because of their areas of expertise, but also because they represent a cross-section of the demographics of AAAL: senior professors (John), junior professors (Thor), doctoral students (Dave), and MA candidates (Tim).

The 2016 AAAL Conference will feature six plenary speakers. Following on feedback from attendees at previous conferences, we have included three international speakers. Dr. Claudia V. Angelelli (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland) will talk about “Minding the Gaps: Applied Linguistics and Translation & Interpreting Studies.” Dr. Michael “Mitch” Legutke (Justus Leibig University of Giessen, Germany) has chosen as his topic “Teachers Matter: Revisiting the Territory and Charting the Future of Foreign Language Teacher Education.” Dr. Joseph LoBianco (University of Melbourne, Australia) will discuss “Ethnic Separatism, Social Conflict and Violence: The Role of Deliberative Language Planning in Conflict Zones.” Professor John R. Rickford (Stanford University) has chosen the title of “Two Bills: Pursuing Basic and Applied Research, Scholarship and Service.” And Dr. Cristina Sanz (Georgetown University) will talk about “SLA in Study Abroad Contexts: A Researcher-practitioner’s Perspective.”

There will also be ten invited colloquia, including those that are being organized with three sister organizations:

1. Netta Avineri (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey) and Jonathan D. Rosa (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) are co-organizing a panel entitled “Applied Linguistics, Linguistic Anthropology, and Social Justice: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Linguistic and Social Change.” This colloquium is co-sponsored by the Society for Linguistic Anthropology of AAA, the American Association of Anthropology.

2. A colloquium entitled “Blind Spots and Theory Building: How Can the Study of Language Learners Marginalized in the Field Help Us Grow?” is being organized by Martha Bigelow (University of Minnesota).

3. Peter De Costa (Michigan State University) has organized a colloquium on “Global Englishes and SLA: Establishing a Dialogue and Common Research Agenda.” We are very grateful to Language Learning for sponsoring this colloquium through a Language Learning Roundtable grant. Support from Language Learning has helped to make international participation in this colloquium possible.

4. Once again, the AAAL conference will host a colloquium with TESOL. Keith Folse (University of Central Florida) will lead a team in discussing “Issues in Creating Practical Corpus-Based Lexical Lists.”

5. The annual Wilga Rivers Pedagogy Colloquium is being organized by Lynn Goldstein (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey). The panelists will discuss “Developing Pragmatic Competence across Foreign Languages: Key Pedagogical Approaches.”

6. Francis Hult (Lund University, Sweden) has organized a colloquium entitled “Linguistic Landscape Analysis and the Representation of Visual Data.”

7. A colloquium on “Applied Linguistics in the Courtroom” is being co-organized by Aneta Pavlenko (Temple University) and Diana Eades (University of New England, Australia).

8. Maricel Santos (San Francisco State University) has organized a panel to discuss “Clinics, Classrooms, and Communities: Contexts for Researching Health Literacy as Social Practice in Applied Linguistics.”

9. In conjunction with ILTA (the International Language Testing Association), Sara Cushing Weigle (Georgia State University) has organized a panel to discuss “Connecting Corpus Linguistics and Language Assessment”.

10. A panel on “Researching Written Task Complexity in Diverse Contexts” is being organized by Lawrence Zhang (University of Auckland, New Zealand).

Of course, there will also be other colloquia selected in the abstract reviewing process as well.

The Conference Program Committee is very excited about a new feature being offered for the first time in the 2016 conference. On Friday, April 8, the day before the conference begins, there will be two full-day pre-conference workshops. Dr. Stefan Gries (University of California, Santa Barbara) will offer a workshop on “Basic Statistics for Applied Linguists with R.” Dr. Johannes Wagner (University of Southern Denmark) will lead a workshop on “Analyzing Second Language Conversations in the Wild: An Introductory Workshop on Conversation Analysis.” The number of participants in these workshops is limited, and participation will involve an additional fee beyond the conference registration.

The call for proposals is available at
The proposal submission site is now live and will close at 11:59 PM EDT on August 19, 2015. This year there are two additional strands: Research Methods (REM) and Translation and Interpretation (TRI).

For more information, please check the AAAL website. In addition, you can follow us on Twitter and visit the AAAL Facebook page.

— Kathleen M. Bailey, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

New Members of the Leadership Team

At the annual conference in Toronto, Joan Kelly Hall (Past President) and Laura Collins (Member at Large) completed their term as members of the Executive Committee. Under Joan’s leadership, the Executive Committee developed strategic plans, which are the basis of a number of exciting new initiatives. Laura also provided energy and insights that facilitated the development of these initiatives. The Executive Committee thanked the two for their tremendous contributions, and in turn welcomed Tim McNamara (Second Vice President) and Agnes He (Member at Large) as its new members.

The full list of current leadership team is available on the AAAL website, but we would like to note that the following members have been appointed as the new chairs of the Standing Committees:

Keiko Koda (Carnegie Mellon University), a member of the last year’s Nominating Committee, will chair this year’s Nominating Committee. She will be joined by four members to be elected this summer and Aneta Pavlenko (ex officio, Immediate Past President).


Wayne Wright (Purdue University) is the new chair of the Resolutions Committee.


Carol Chapelle (Iowa State University) is the new chair of the FFAL Board of Trustees.


Joan Kelly Hall (Penn State University) is the new chair of the Distinguished Scholarship and Service Award (DSSA) committee.


Kate Menken (City University of New York) is the new chair of the Graduate Student Awards (GSA) Committee.


As announced in the 2014 July issue, the inaugural Best Book Award Committee and Best Dissertation Award Committee are chaired by Francis Hult (Lund University) and Jamie Schissel (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) respectively.

In addition, Diane Belcher (Georgia State University) has been appointed as the chair of the Best Research Article Award Committee, responsible for shaping this new award. Two new members of the committee will be elected this summer.


The success of the association depends on members who serve on the Executive and Standing Committees. If you are interested in serving on these committees and/or would like to recommend candidates, please communicate your ideas through the membership survey and/or by sending an email to

This month’s election determines future members of the leadership team, including Second Vice-President, Member at Large, and members of the Nominating Committee, Best Book Award Committee, Best Dissertation Award Committee, and Best Article Committee. If you have not yet cast your vote, please do so by 11:59 PM Eastern on July 1, 2015.

The September issue of the newsletter will feature newly elected members.

— Junko Mori, University of Wisconsin-Madison