During the last meeting of the European Affiliates in Applied Linguistics, Gregory Miras was elected as coordinator of AILA Europe following the work that had been done by Aleksandra Gnach for many years. This transition comes at a time when we are about to celebrate AILA's 20th Congress and AILA's 60th Anniversary, as the association was founded in Europe in 1964. Its creation was an international marker for the institutionalisation of Applied Linguistics with a focus on real world problems. Nowadays, the COVID crisis has taught us - and is still teaching us - that we can implement faster, more effective and more sustainable scientific links. We will take advantage of these tools to build a new way of working together and to promote the AILA Europe Junior Researcher Meeting in order to help PhD students to develop research in Applied Linguistics on burning issues by participating in an international network.
AILA2021--the 19th World Congress of Applied Linguistics--took place virtually from August 15 to August 20, 2021. It was organized under the auspices of ANéLA, the Dutch applied linguistics affiliation, by a team of Groningen applied linguists, each with their respecitve roles: Prof. Em. Marjolijn Verspoor (Chair); Prof. Dr. Marije Michel (co-chair); Prof. Dr. Wander Lowie (Scientific Chair), Prof. Em. Kees de Bot (Plenary programming); Prof. Dr. Merel de Keijzer (Volunteers); Dr. Sake Jager assisted by May Wu (ICT); Dr. Rasmus Steinkrauss (Finances) and Dr. Audrey Rousse-Malpat (Social Program).
Originally the conference was to be held in 2020 as a live event, but because of the pandemic it was postponed to 2021. Early in 2021 it became apparent that a live or even a hybrid event was not feasible, and the decision was made to go all virtual, with only the Groningen team and volunteers present on site. However, several videos were made to welcome the delegates to virtual Groningen and the conference. Several of these can be seen on the AILA 2021 website www.aila2021.nl (e.g., under the tab ‘Groningen’).
Despite (or because of) the fact that the conference was virtual, the number of attendees exceeded our expectation. There were 2180 registered attendees, signed up from 80 different countries and all continents: Europe 1180, Asia 396, North America 320, Oceania 64, and Africa 19. Most attendees indicated that their interests lay in investigating the learning and teaching of second, foreign or multiple languages. In addition, attendees were interested in psycholinguistics and social issues in languages, including the role of English in the world.
The AILA World Congress had traditionally consisted of mostly separate presentations, but to create more coherence, the Groningen team proposed to organize the congress in symposia in which ca. 250 organizers were responsible for their Call for Papers, vetting, programming and chairing. As the evaluations showed, the new symposia format was appreciated very much.
The change of the conference to a virtual environment was a great deal of work. All data had to be transferred to the Dryfta system, which needed to be adapted based on our needs and wishes. With 25 parallel symposia in the morning and afternoon for five days, it was difficult to keep it simple and make sure there were no time conflicts. The social program including yoga, a pubquiz and a virtual citywalk was, with support by Groningen University, hosted in Gathertown.
In organizing this large event, professional help was essential. Because of the pandemic, Groninger Congress Bureau experienced difficult times financially and almost went bankrupt. Fortunately, GCB was taken over by a similar organization, Conference by Design, and until the end we had wonderful support.
The conference was evaluated thoroughly with a high response rate (570). On the whole the conference was evaluated very positively, including the choice of plenary speakers (watch the recordings of their talks here), the symposium format, the virtual environment, and the ability to interact through this medium. However, when asked what the preference would be for future AILA conferences, the overwhelming majority wants to attend live in a fully intertwined hybrid event. Moreover, the vast majority said they would actually attend the AILA 2023 conference in Lyon.
The AILA2021 team wants to thank its sponsors (including the CLCG), our amazing volunteers (most of which students and phd candidates at our faculty) and especially the Faculty of Arts, who supported the Groningen team as much as they could.
The Ibero-American Association of Applied Linguistics (AIALA, by its abbreviations in both Spanish– Asociación Iberoamericana de Lingüística Aplicada – and Portuguese: Associação Ibero-Americana de Linguística Aplicada) was created in 2020 to better reflect the global linguistic diversity within the International Association of Applied Linguists (AILA). Recent sociopolitical events have demonstrated the critical importance for regional/global collaboration and multilingual perspectives in all areas of science, including applied linguistics, and making sure that this science is available and accessible to all. In creating AIALA, we have reconceptualized AILA “regional” membership beyond physical residence/ geographical location, focusing instead on linguistic bonds to promote regional languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, and affiliated minoritized language(s) spoken and researched by applied linguists worldwide. Currently, AIALA is a collaboration between AAAL (United States), AMLA (Mexico), ALAB (Brazil), and AESLA (Spain), with additional opportunity for membership by AILA members-at-large where there are no national affiliates (yet). Thus, members of AAAL, AMLA, ALAB, and AESLA are automatically members of AIALA.
After initial presentations introducing AIALA at AAAL 2021, ALAB 2021, and the 2021 AILA World Congress, this upcoming year will be focused on engaging directly with applied linguists who speak and/or research the affiliated languages. Additionally, we are in active recruitment of facilitating the formation of AILA affiliates where the languages celebrated by AIALA are present, including Chile, Paraguay, Colombia, and Argentina as well as with applied linguists in Peru, Portugal, and outside the geographical boundaries of Ibero-America in Goa, India, Malaysia, Mozambique, and Angola.
AIALA will be present at all the national meetings of the AIALA founding members (AAAL, AESLA, AMLA, and ALAB) and our organizing questions for these meetings will include: (1) How do we provide more visibility to the existing and ongoing research of the AIALA membership, especially the research produced in minoritized languages or that of colleagues of historically underrepresented and marginalized and/or racialized backgrounds?; (2) How do we facilitate connections between AIALA researchers across the globe to learn from and work with each other?; (3) How do we conduct collaborative research that has impact beyond academia?; and (4) How do we do this taking particular care to ensure that all of AIALA’s actions demonstrate our commitment to DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and access)? Before our in-person meetings in 2022, the founding national members will determine the organizing governance of AIALA.
We invite you to join the conversation at https://aila.info/about/regionalization/aila-ibero-america/ or by emailing one of the co-organizers.
Kyria y Laura
Laura Gurzynski-Weiss, Indiana University, Estados Unidos (email@example.com) &
Kyria Finardi, Universidad Federal de Espírito Santo, Brasil (firstname.lastname@example.org)