BAAL Book Prize 2009
The British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) announced at its annual conference on 4th September in Newcastle that this year’s BAAL Book Prize is awarded to The Blackwell Guide to Research Methods in Bilingualism and Multilingualism (2008), edited by Li Wei, Professor of Applied Linguistics at Birkbeck, and Melissa Moyer, Professor of English at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain, who was a Birkbeck Institute of Humanities Fellow between March and June this year.
Bilingualism and Multilingualism is a fast growing, interdisciplinary field of research addressing questions ranging from how the human brain processes information in different languages and how children learn multiple languages simultaneously, to why some communities abandon their tradition language in favour of another language and whether some writing systems may give its readers certain cognitive advantage.
The Blackwell Guide was written as a response to the need for a “know-how” book that enables students and researchers alike to design and carry out research projects by guiding them through issues such as the criteria for classifying bilingual speech data, what variables to consider in designing an experiment or case study and what are workable or unworkable topics for a research project.
The volume cover a wide variety of research procedures, methods and tools, from doing ethnography and narrative analysis to computer modelling and brain imaging technologies.
Dr Loraine Obler, Professor of Neurolinguistics of the City University of New York, describes the prize winning book as “an intellectually rich, comprehensive, lucid introduction to conceptualizing, developing, conducting, and dispersing the results of research on bilingual individuals and populations”.
The BAAL Book Prize is awarded annually to “an outstanding book in the field of Applied Linguistics” which includes language teaching, learning and assessment, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, clinical linguistics, child language, discourse and communication studies, forensic linguistics, language planning and policy, lexicography, and translation.
Commenting on the award, Professor Li Wei says, “I am particularly pleased that this book has won the BAAL Book Prize, because it was written specifically for the students who requested a book that links theory to method and to data. I am very grateful for the contributions by my colleagues Dr Penelope Gardner-Chloros and Dr Zhu Hua who wrote two chapters for the volume. The prize is a recognition for the excellent research our Department has done on bilingualism and multilingualism over the years, and for the theoretical and methodological contributions we have made.”
As a result of the success of this volume, the publisher, Wiley-Blackwell has asked Professor Li Wei to edit a new book series The Blackwell Guides to Research Methods in Language and Linguistics. Volumes on Child Language, Second Language Acquisition and Clinical Linguistics are already in preparation.