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News & Press: AAALetter

From the President

Monday, June 22, 2015  
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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

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