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The foundation of AILA was agreed upon at the International Colloquium of Applied Linguistics at the University of Nancy, France (hence AILA's French name), 1964. This decision was a result of two years preparatory work and discussion, with the financial support of the Council of Europe. At that time, the clientele to be served by this new international association was restricted mainly to linguists and language teachers in Europe. The first president of AILA was Bernard Pottier, supported in organizational and administrative matters by Max Gorosch. The founding congress of AILA in Nancy was almost exclusively run in French, and the main strands into which the contributions were organized were automatic translation, language teaching and research cooperation in Europe.

Bernhard Pottier had no direct successor until 1969, when at the Second International Congress of Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge (in fact the first one with this title) AILA was virtually refounded and Pit Corder was elected President and Bertil Malmberg became Secretary General. It was from then on that AILA got a constant organizational structure and that AILA Congresses were held on a triennial basis. Also from then on, English became the de facto lingua franca in AILA, although the Association was officially French / English bilingual from its beginning and still is today. This congress also became prototypical for all following AILA Congresses in that its strands represented the key issues in Applied Linguistics of the respective time - in that case, the psychology of second language learning, sociolinguistics, and contrastive linguistics.

Originally a European initiative, AILA has become truly global over the past 40 years, including now affiliates from Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America.



AILA is the acronym for Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée or International Association of Applied Linguistics. AILA (originally founded in 1964 in France) is an international federation of national and regional associations of Applied Linguistics. AILA has a membership of more than 8.000 individuals worldwide who as researchers, policy makers or practitioners are active in the field of Applied Linguistics.

Applied Linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of research and practice dealing with practical problems of language and communication that can be identified, analysed or solved by applying available theories, methods and results of Linguistics or by developing new theoretical and methodological frameworks in Linguistics to work on these problems. Applied Linguistics differs from Linguistics in general mainly with respect to its explicit orientation towards practical, everyday problems related to language and communication. The problems Applied Linguistics deals with range from aspects of the linguistic and communicative competence of the individual such as first or second language acquisition, literacy, language disorders, etc. to language and communication related problems in and between societies such as e.g. language variation and linguistic discrimination, multilingualism, language conflict, language policy and language planning.


AILA pursues the following objectives:

  • Actively contributing to the development of all subject areas of applied linguistics
  • Promoting the exchange of scientific knowledge and practical experience
  • Stimulating international cooperation
  • Fostering language pluralism
  • Supporting applied linguistics in developing countries

AILA pursues these objectives by means of the following:

  • Hold a triennial world congress
  • Establish and support Research Networks (ReNs)
  • Promote the dissemination of scientific information by a variety of  publications: a scholarly journal, a book series and a newsletter.
  • Collaborate with other organizations with related objectives and goals
  • Making available Solidarity Awards to support the attendance of academics from developing countries at the World Congress