Applied linguistics

For the journal, see Applied Linguistics (journal).

Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of linguistics that identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to language-related real-life problems. Some of the academic fields related to applied linguistics are education, psychology, communication research, anthropology, and sociology.


Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of linguistics. Major branches of applied linguistics include bilingualism and multilingualism, conversation analysis, contrastive linguistics, sign linguistics, language assessment, literacies, discourse analysis, language pedagogy, second language acquisition, language planning and policy, interlinguistics, stylistics, pragmatics, forensic linguistics and translation.


Major journals of the field include Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, International Review of Applied Linguistics, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, European Journal of Applied Linguistics, Issues in Applied Linguistics, Language Learning, Language and Education and Linguistics and Education.


The tradition of applied linguistics established itself in part as a response to the narrowing of focus in linguistics with the advent in the late 1950s of generative linguistics, and has always maintained a socially-accountable role, demonstrated by its central interest in language problems.[1]

Although the field of applied linguistics started from Europe and the United States, the field rapidly flourished in the international context.

Applied linguistics first concerned itself with principles and practices on the basis of linguistics. In the early days, applied linguistics was thought as “linguistics-applied” at least from the outside of the field. In the 1960s, however, applied linguistics was expanded to include language assessment, language policy, and second language acquisition. As early as the 1970s, applied linguistics became a problem-driven field rather than theoretical linguistics, including the solution of language-related problems in the real world. By the 1990s, applied linguistics had broadened including critical studies and multilingualism. Research in applied linguistics was shifted to "the theoretical and empirical investigation of real world problems in which language is a central issue."[2]

In the United States, applied linguistics also began narrowly as the application of insights from structural linguistics—first to the teaching of English in schools and subsequently to second and foreign language teaching. The linguistics applied approach to language teaching was promulgated most strenuously by Leonard Bloomfield, who developed the foundation for the Army Specialized Training Program, and by Charles C. Fries, who established the English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Michigan in 1941. In 1948, the Research Club at Michigan established Language Learning: A Journal of Applied Linguistics, the first journal to bear the term applied linguistics. In the late 1960s, applied linguistics began to establish its own identity as an interdisciplinary field of linguistics concerned with real-world language issues. The new identity was solidified by the creation of the American Association for Applied Linguistics in 1977.[3]


The International Association of Applied Linguistics was founded in France in 1964, where it is better known as Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée, or AILA. AILA has affiliates in more than thirty countries, some of which are listed below.

United Kingdom The British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) was established in 1967. Its mission is "the advancement of education by fostering and promoting, by any lawful charitable means, the study of language use, language acquisition and language teaching and the fostering of interdisciplinary collaboration in this study [...]".[4]

Australia Australian applied linguistics took as its target the applied linguistics of mother tongue teaching and teaching English to immigrants. The Australia tradition shows a strong influence of continental Europe and of the USA, rather than of Britain.[5] Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA) was established at a national congress of applied linguists held in August 1976.[6] ALAA holds a joint annual conference in collaboration with the Association for Applied Linguistics in New Zealand (ALANZ).

United States The American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) was founded in 1977. AAAL holds an annual conference, usually in March or April, in the United States or Canada.

Japan In 1982, the Japan Association of Applied Linguistics (JAAL) was established in the Japan Association of College English Teachers (JACET) in order to engage in activities on a more international scale. In 1984, JAAL became an affiliate of the International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA).


  1. Alan Davies & Catherine Elder.(Eds.). 2004. Handbook of Applied Linguistics. 1
  2. Christopher Brumfit. How applied linguistics is the same as any other science, "International Journal of Applied Linguistics", 7(1), 86-94.
  3. Margie Berns and Paul Kei Matsuda. 2006. Applied linguistics: Overview and history. In K. Brown (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of language and linguistics (2nd ed.), 398-401.
  4. "British Association for Applied Linguistics constitution" (PDF). Public Documents. British Association for Applied Linguistics. September 2011. Paragraph 3: "Objects". Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  5. Alan Davies & Catherine Elder.(Eds.). 2004. Handbook of Applied Linguistics. 6
  6. "Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (home page)". Applied Linguistics Association of Australia. September 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2012.

Further reading

External links

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