Applied Linguistics Association of Australia

Scholarships & Prizes

M.A.K. Halliday Scholarship

The M.A.K. Scholarship is offered annually and awards recipient $1000 towards a research project in Applied Linguistics. Applicants must be members of ALAA and have current student status or have recently completed postgraduate studies. The application will be judged on the quality of the research project. Requests for support to attend conferences or to buy major pieces of equipment will not normally be funded through this scholarship.

Applicants need to submit:

  • A two-page research proposal, including a statement of how the funds will be spent
  • A curriculum vitae (no more than 2 pages)
  • Two brief referees' reports/letters of support

The due date is two months before the annual conference, and the recipient will be announced at the AGM.

Please address the application to M.A.K. Halliday Scholarship Committee and submit via:

Dr Michelle Kohler (Secretary, ALAA) at

Michael Clyne Prize for research thesis on immigrant bilingualism and language contact

The annual Michael Clyne Prize has been established for the best postgraduate research thesis in the area of immigrant bilingualism and language contact. The Prize up to $1500 is jointly administered by ALAA and ALS (Australian Linguistic Society).  

  • Prize to be awarded to an MA (research) or PhD thesis examined (or passed by examiners) in the previous year that focuses on some aspect of immigrant bilingualism and language contact. The thesis should have been submitted at an Australian university
  • The award is a $1000 plus contribution of up to $500 to cover costs (e.g. travel, accommodation, conference registration) for the recipient to attend either ALS or ALAA (their choice) to present a paper on their research
  • The recipient will have a guaranteed slot in the conference of their choosing (i.e. either ALS or ALAA in the year of the award)
  • Award to be announced at the AGMs of each society.

Details of the Prize, including eligibility requirements, timeline and submission process, are here: Michael Clyne Prize 

ALAA Travel Scholarships

ALAA is pleased to announce that 5 travel scholarships (up to $800 each) are available for research students who are ALAA members and who plan to present at the forthcoming annual conference. The scholarships are to be used for travel, accommodation and registration expenses.

Applications will be judged against the following criteria:

  • the research project’s potential contribution to knowledge (is it innovative/cutting edge/relevant?)
  • the clarity and precision of the description of the research
  • the extent of progress in the research
  • the degree of support expressed in the referee’s letter

Preference will be given to doctoral candidates, but research students at Honours and Masters levels are also encouraged to apply. Successful applicants will be notified by in due course. For more information on this year’s submission requirements, please download the ALAA Postgraduate Travel Scholarship application form (PDF) (160 KB). For further information, please email Dr Michelle Kohler (Secretary, ALAA) at

Penny Mckay Memorial Fund

Penny McKay (1948 – 2009)--- Penny McKay Photo

As a teacher, consultant, researcher, keynote speaker and professional activist, Penny McKay was a leader in language education in Australia and internationally. Working collaboratively with educators and researchers in schools, she pioneered an approach to assessing learners' development in English as an additional language.

Penny was committed to four fundamental principles.

First, assessment frameworks should be tied to empirical, classroom-based observations of English language learners of different ages and backgrounds.

Second, those frameworks should respect and respond to classroom teachers' understandings of and insights into their learners.

Third, assessment frameworks must be informed by theory as it continually develops.

Finally, assessment frameworks must be designed to support learners' language development and to inform teachers in their teaching.

Penny died prematurely in 2009 from ovarian cancer. She is greatly mourned by Australian and overseas language educators.

Overview: The Award and Fund

The Penny McKay Memorial Award honours Penny’s contribution to research and development in second/additional language education.

The Award is for an outstanding doctoral thesis which benefits the teaching and learning of second/additional languages in Australian schools and pre-schools, including Indigenous languages, community languages, foreign languages, Standard Australian English as an additional language or variety, and English as a foreign language.

The Award is jointly offered by the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA), the Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA) and the Association for Language Testing and Assessment of Australia and New Zealand (ALTAANZ). Finances related to the Award are administered by ALAA.

The 2015 Award consists of $500, a certificate and free conference registration at the 2015 combined ALAA/ALANZ/ALTAANZ Conference in Adelaide (Monday 30th November - Wednesday 2nd December). The winner will be offered a slot to present a paper on an aspect of their research at that conference.

The winner will be formally announced at the AGM of each Association and the 2015 Award will be presented at the 2015 ALAA-ALANZ conference. The winner’s name and a 300 word summary of their thesis will be published in each Association’s journal (ALAA – The Australian Review of Applied Linguistics; ACTA - TESOL in Context; ALTAANZ - Language Assessment Matters). The names of winners in every year will be shown on the website of each Association.

Donating to the Award

The Award was established and is maintained from donations from individuals, professional associations and other institutions in Australia and overseas, and from the sale of Penny’s extensive professional library. These funds are invested securely as agreed by ALAA, ACTA and ALTAANZ according to the normal procedures governing such funds.

Your help is needed to maintain this Award which carries forward Penny’s lifelong commitment to language education that is grounded in both research and the insights of practising teachers.

To donate to the maintenance of this Award, please go to Make a Donation for further details. 

If you are registering for the 2015 ALAA-ALANZ-ALTAANZ Conference, the Registration page also includes an option to donate to the fund. See the Conference Registration page for details.

Further Information

The closing date for 2015 applications is 13th September.

If you are interested in applying for this Award, please make sure you read all these documents carefully.

For further details about the Award: OVERVIEW AND GENERAL INFORMATION

For Application details: APPLICATION DETAILS

For an Application form: APPLICATION FORM

To see how applications will be evaluated: EVALUATION CRITERIA

More about Penny McKay

Penny’s approach to teaching:

All of us approach teaching in different ways. For me, teaching has been, from the beginning, an iterative activity – working with students, teachers and researchers to search for, try out and disseminate effective teaching practices. I’ve always sought to observe, ask questions, and find patterns in how English and other languages are learned and taught. My life as a language consultant and researcher has been a stimulating journey of workshops, drafts and feedback seminars with students and colleagues. My colleagues’ questions about what is happening and being trialled in their classrooms has been an invaluable contribution to my work. We have become successful as language educators by working collaboratively and sharing our knowledge and skills like this.
Penny McKay, 15th February 2009

A co-researcher describing Penny’s approach to classroom research (interview with Helen Moore, 30 January 1997):

Penny was wonderful. ... We’d get into the classroom and we’d say, ‘And then this should happen and this should happen’. But she’d keep asking us, ‘What does happen?’ ‘What is happening there?’ ‘What is development?’

To read more about Penny McKay:

Dooley, Karen and Moore, Helen. 'Penny Mckay 1948-2009: A Leader in English Language Education', TESOL in Context, Vol. 19 Issue 2 (Dec 2009) 50-66.

--- Chris Davison Penny McKay Plenary 2014

2014 Award Winners

In 2014, the first year of the Award, the Panel decided that they could not distinguish between two outstanding theses. Consequently, we congratulate:

Susan Creagh for her thesis "A Foucauldian and Quantitative Analysis of NAPLaN, the category 'Language Background Other Than English' and English as a Second Language Level" (presented at the University of Queensland).


Julia Rothwell for her thesis "Let's eat the captain! Thinking, feeling, doing: Intercultural language learning through process drama" (presented at the Queensland University of Technology).

The recipients received their awards at the 2014 ACTA International TESOL Conference in Melbourne on 1 October 2014, at the beginning of the Penny McKay Memorial Plenary Lecture, given by Professor Chris Davison.

--- Helen Moore ACTA 2014

Helen Moore announcing the 2014 winners, 1 October 2014

Contact us: For further information about ALAA, please email