British Association for Applied Linguistics

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The British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) is an academic society for professional applied linguists, language teachers and other interested parties, based in the United Kingdom. It organises regular meetings of its 800-plus members at various venues in the UK,[1] publishes conference proceedings, issues a regular newsletter and awards student scholarships.[2]

BAAL's Annual Meeting is held every September in the UK; in 2008, for example, the Association is set to convene at Swansea University.[3] Representatives also attend international conferences, and BAAL is affiliated with the Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquee (International Association of Applied Linguistics, AILA). In the UK, it is a registered charity.[4] Meetings usually have a theme; for example, the 40th conference at the University of Edinburgh focused on 'Technology, Ideology and Practice in Applied Linguistics'.[5]

The Association is regularly consulted over linguistic issues and language teaching in the UK,[6] but has stopped short of active political lobbying; it remains a primarily academic institution, despite occasional forays into campaigning.[7]


The association first convened in the 1960s, as interest increased in the new science of modern linguistics and particularly in its practical application - for example, in language teaching and learning. A group of theoretical linguists, educators and other professionals using language "as a tool" would establish much-need cross-disciplinary contacts; also, deepening European integration at the time meant that there was a need for high-quality language teaching across the continent.[8]

BAAL's creation was the result of a proposal by Peter Strevens, the Chair in Applied Linguistics at the University of Essex. At a preliminary meeting of interested parties at Birkbeck College in July 1965, a narrower remit was discussed than the wider set of issues that the Association would concern itself with; initially, it was suggested that it might focus on language teaching and machine translation, but the first full meeting in 1967 in Reading, Berkshire agreed to broaden the scope. BAAL emerged as the UK affiliate of AILA, with S. Pit Corder its first Chair. Membership was narrowly defined in the early years, as BAAL wished to develop a reputation as a learned society rather than a teachers' meeting; however, a feeling that the Association could afford to widen recruitment was apparent by the early 1970s. In 1985, a requirement for formal qualifications, already flexible, was dropped; and today anyone can join. In 1980, the Association also began to publish a journal, Applied Linguistics.[9][10]


  1. British Association for Applied Linguistics: '[1]'. 11th June 12007.
  2. British Association for Applied Linguistics: 'Funding Opportunities'. 29th April 2007.
  3. British Association for Applied Linguistics: 'Conferences'. 27th November 2006.
  4. British Association for Applied Linguistics: 'About BAAL'. 4th December 2006.
  5. British Association for Applied Linguistics: '40th Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics'. 5th August 2007.
  6. British Association for Applied Linguistics: 'Joining BAAL'. 2nd April 2006.
  7. British Association for Applied Linguistics (1997: 12-14).
  8. Trim (1988: 7-8).
  9. British Association for Applied Linguistics (1997: 4-6).
  10. See Applied Linguistics - About the Journal.


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See also