Winner of Penny McKay Memorial Award 2022


The Penny McKay Memorial Award is jointly offered by the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA), the Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA) and the Association for Language Testing and  Assessment of Australia and New Zealand (ALTAANZ). This award honours Penny’s contribution to research and development in second/additional language education. We are delighted to announce that we have Dr Denise Angelo be declared the winner (details below).  

Many congratulations to Denise and her supervisor (Professor Jane Simpson, Australian National University) on this outstanding record of achievement.

Winner of Penny McKay Memorial Award 2022

Denise Angelo, awarded her PhD by the Australian National University in 2021 

Thesis Title: 

Countering misrecognition of Indigenous contact languages and their ecologies.


Professor Jane Simpson


This interdisciplinary thesis by publication centres on the phenomenon of misrecognition of contact languages in Australia and its real world ramifications such as the invisibility of First Nations students with these language backgrounds in the classroom. Students’ languages are pivotal to their ability to engage and achieve in classroom learning, so the potential effects of misrecognition are manifold here. At a system level, misrecognition of contact languages means teachers are not supported with relevant advice and students’ language strengths and additional language learning needs are not acknowledged. Despite the considerable presence of the contact language type in the Indigenous language landscape, this thesis shows that across the board there is little that responds to contact languages in systematic or constructive ways. This thesis shows us that we can respond and should do so. The wicked problem of contact language misrecognition is explored through a suite of interdisciplinary studies, harnessing multiple methodologies. The studies deal with policy analysis, language description, socio-linguistics, historical research, classroom education and community co-design. Each study contributes different perspectives on misrecognition and is suggestive of different paths to countering it. Motivating and guiding this research are grounded experiences with First Nations communities’ contact languages ecologies. These encompass a variety of classroom language puzzles, blockages and successes. On the flip side, this thesis finds that recognition of contact languages and their speakers can be fostered in just as many ways as misrecognition occurs. Examples developed and illustrated in this thesis include the Indigenous Language Ecology framework for policy makers and professional services deliverers such as educators. Another tool is the Community Vernacular Language Posters which focuses on fostering community and classroom language awareness. These have also proven a rich source of language and historical data for describing hitherto unrecognised contact languages.

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