Christopher N. Candlin Memorial Lecture 23 November, 2020 - Registration open!

Presented by ALAA Distinguished Scholar and Service Award recipient

Professor Emeritus Joe Lo Bianco

This lecture will be scheduled in two parts:

  1. Pre-recorded lecture, available one week prior to the online forum
  2. Online Q&A forum, 23 November, 4.30-5.30pm (AEDT)

What kind of political activity is applied linguistics? 

What kind of political community are applied linguists?

What are the language problems we aim to solve?


Click on the following Eventbrite link to register:


Following your registration, and closer to the date, links to the pre-recorded lecture and online forum will be sent to registrants.


Please note that the online forum will be followed by the ALAA AGM, 5.30-6.00pm (AEDT). Participants are welcome to remain or leave at this point.

This is a free event and we encourage you to distribute this information to interested colleagues and post-graduate students.

Contact: Michelle.Kohler@unisa.edu.au



In the Christopher N. Candlin Memorial Lecture for 2020 I want to interrogate an advanced version of an old idea about the relation of knowledge and power.  I will probe who are we, as applied linguists, what is our claim to influence language teaching, language testing, or language policy, and what are the problems we aim to solve.  What power and status do we expect what we know, our technical expertise, to have in the polity of which we are part, the community of public life?  What are the language problems we are trying to understand and, dare I say it, solve?  Whether in political practice or political theory, just like in academic research and teaching, we encounter the dilemma of describing the world and wanting to intervene to change it. For applied linguists, in common with other academics, wanting to apply the knowledge we generate to social improvement raises the question of what kind of a 'political community' we are, and what claim we make for the knowledge we produce

In 1988 I was asked by Chris Candlin and Tim McNamara to contribute a chapter to a Festschrift they were editing in honour of the career of Terry Quinn, who had recently retired due to ill health.  My chapter was entitled Science or Values: the Role of Professionals in Language Policymaking, and appeared in their book titled Language, Learning and Community, (NCELTR, Macquarie University, 1989).  In the chapter I explored a concept some policy analysts identified as the 'technical-political' dichotomy, in which they imagined that the contours and content of knowledge were shaped by its ultimate destination aligned along a continuum from political purposes at one extreme and technical scholarly purposes at another.  I want to re-inform and re-frame key arguments of this understanding of knowledge focused more on who applied linguists are, and what the knowledge of applied linguistics is and does.  In doing this I will reactivate the dormant but critically important, issue of what is a language problem. 

The distinction between action and knowledge, power and information, is as old as antique philosophy.  This distinction isn’t an abstract rumination as posed by political philosopher Hannah Arendt in her 1958 meditation on the human condition.  In the wake of the horrors of war and hatred, she asked intellectuals to strive for a vita activa in preference to the socially disengaged vita contemplativa.  In each generation we frame the challenge of knowledge and action, and the problems these are directed towards understanding, in a new way, but always carrying similar elements. The dichotomy may be forced, or even extreme, but can we deny there is tension between the functions of knowledge for and in policy and politics, on the one hand, and in academic, scholarly or educational settings, on the other?   In language planning research and theory this issue, like the related but even more problematic idea of language problems, is a sleeper.  Scholars might deny the utility, robustness or validity, or even the very existence of 'language problems', but in policy and political settings some notion of language problems motivates most of the activity and the justification for paying any attention to language at all

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ALAA Three-minute thesis 2020 finals

Click here to register: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/alaa-3-minute-thesis-competition-tickets-124354681199

When: Thursday 15th October at 4pm (AEDT)

Where: Online via Zoom - details to be provided after registration

Finalists' preview videos now available online



Please note: This event is open to members and non-members. Feel free to forward this invitation to your colleagues and students.  


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Vale Prof. Farzad Sharifian

It is with great sadness that we share the news that Professor Farzad Sharifian has passed away. Farzad was familiar to the ALAA community personally, as President (2014-2016) and as a pioneer in the field of Cultural Linguistics. His loss will be deeply felt. We include below a tribute to Farzad provided by Kate Burridge.


Farzad is considered internationally as the founder of the field of Cultural Linguistics. His publications have had an outstanding impact in the field with significant implications for many discipline areas including English language teaching, World Englishes, and intercultural communication.


International recognition of Farzad’s authority in the field is reflected in, for example, the fact that he was the Founding Editor of the International Journal of Language and Culture (John Benjamins Publishing, Amsterdam/Philadelphia); the Editor of The Routledge Handbook of Language and Culture (Taylor and Francis); the Editor of the book series Cognitive Linguistic Studies in Cultural Contexts(John Benjamins Publishing, Amsterdam/Philadelphia); Series Editor of the Cultural Linguistics book series (Springer); the Series Editor of Routledge Advances in Teaching English as an International Language (New York London).

He has authored / edited eight books and published well over 70 journal articles and chapters. His monograph entitled Cultural Conceptualisations and Language (John Benjamins, 2011) was described by Professor Frank (Iowa University) as a book that “develops an exciting and highly innovative theoretical model that is long overdue” and “a pioneering work in many senses”. His most recent (2017) book Cultural Linguistics, (John Benjamins) was described by Kim Ebensgaard (University of Copenhagen) as “incredibly relevant to any researcher, teacher, or student with an interest in language and culture”. Farzad’s books on Cultural Linguistics have been translated into a number of languages, including Persian, Russian and Vietnamese.

Farzad was the recipient of multiple awards for his research and leadership including: President, Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA) (2014-2016); Board of Directors, International Association for World Englishes (2013-2015); Supervisor of the Year (Dean’s Award for Excellence in Higher Degree by Research Supervision), Faculty of Arts, Monash University (2013); Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany (2012); Dean’s Award for Excellence in Early Career Research, Faculty of Arts, Monash University (2008); Award for Excellence in Early Career Research, Faculty of Arts, Monash University (Special Commendation; 2007); Australian Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Australian Research Council (2003); Dean’s Prize for Outstanding Research, Edith Cowan University, and also the Edith Cowan University’s Research Medal (2003).

Finally, Farzad’s contribution to the academic life of HDR students has not just been limited to outstanding quality of supervision. Farzad established the Michael Clyne Prize for Outstanding HDR Research in the area of Language and Society within LCL, by securing funding from several sources. And as a remarkable gesture of generosity and care for HDR students, Farzad set up The Farzad Sharifian Scholarship through a gift to Monash. A piece written for the Monash news and events website captured his dedication to students: 

"Arriving in Australia in 1998 with just $2000 in his pocket – the proceeds of selling his car in Iran – Professor Farzad Sharifian, Director of the Language and Society Centre knows first-hand the trials and tribulations that face our international students. He also understands the life-changing impact that a PhD scholarship can make."





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The Applied Linguistics Conference 2020 (Postponed)

RMIT University, Melbourne
‚Äč23rd-25th November TBA
(Pre-conference workshops 22nd November)

Turbulent times: positioning, doing, and the future of applied linguistics

Applied linguistics is concerned with the application of language study to many areas (workplace, education, policy, mental & physical health, communication, international relations, media, criminal justice) for the betterment of the individual and collective good in diverse social and historical contexts. As such, applied linguistics is never politically and ethically neutral. Given the current turbulent times we live in (i.e. deepening of social unrest globally, rise of illiberal democracies, growing ecological disasters), the theme of the conference seeks to explore how as applied linguists we position/ought to position ourselves as a professional cohort and contribute to societal change.

Confirmed keynote speakers

Professor Meredith Marra, School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, University of Wellington, New Zealand
Professor David Block, Departament d'Humanitats, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
Dr Bentley James, Centre for Australian Studies, Universität zu Köln, Germany
The 2020 Christopher N Candlin Memorial Lecture will be given by Professor Joseph Lo Bianco, Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education

In the meantime, for any queries, please contact the conference convenors Kerry Mullan kerry.mullan@rmit.edu.au and Chantal Crozet chantal.crozet@rmit.edu.au

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The Applied Linguistics Conference 2019

The 2019 biannual combined Applied Linguistics Association of Australia and the Applied Linguistic Association of New Zealand conference was successfully held at Curtin University in Perth, Australia in November 2019.

Researchers, language professionals, and interested community members participated the three days conference in Curtin University. The theme of the conference ‘Applied Linguistics and Language teaching: Making connections” provides an opportunity for discussion about how links can be made between the two areas within Australia and internationally.

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[UPDATE] The Applied Linguistics Conference 2019

One month till our biannual conference in Perth! Make sure to visit our conference page for more information:


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Executive members have made significant contributions to public debate and inquiries relevant to our field. Recent submissions include:

  • The Senate Inquiry into the Status of the Teaching Profession
  • Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
  • The ARC Review of FoR Codes
  • The Review of the Melbourne Declaration on the National Goals of Schooling
Should you wish to obtain a copy of any of these submission, please contact the ALAA Secretary: elke.stracke@canberra.edu.au.


Keep up to date with ALAA for the development of teaching, learning and research in applied linguistic.