02 Dec 2009

International award recognises OU's outstanding work in linguistics and second-language learning

The Modern Language Association of America has announced it is awarding its twenty-ninth annual Kenneth W. Mildenberger Prize to Lynne Cameron, Professor of Applied Linguistics at The Open University, and Diane Larsen-Freeman, of the University of Michigan, for their book Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics, published by Oxford University Press. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding work in the fields of language, culture, literacy, or literature with strong application to the teaching of languages other than English.

The Kenneth W. Mildenberger Prize is one of eighteen awards that will be presented on 28 December 2009 during the association's annual convention, to be held this year in Philadelphia.

The selection committee's citation for the winning book reads: “Using research from science and mathematics as their point of departure, Diane Larsen-Freeman and Lynne Cameron's Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics presents a comprehensive, surprisingly accessible overview of chaos theory and complex systems as they relate to second-language learning and applied linguistics. Whether one agrees with the theories and interpretations presented by the authors, the thinking behind the work is innovative, and the scholarship is impressive.”

Lynne Cameron received her MA from the University of York and her PhD from the University of London. She is the author of Teaching Languages to Young Learners and Metaphor in Educational Discourse and co-editor of Researching and Applying Metaphor and Explorations in Spatiality. She is co-editor of the forthcoming Metaphor Analysis: Research Practice in Applied Linguistics, Social Sciences, and the Humanities and co-author of the forthcoming Bringing Creative Teaching into the Young Learner Classroom.

Speaking of the award, Lynne said: “We are delighted with this acknowledgement of our collaborative work that began 10 years ago. Complex systems theory offers exciting ideas for our field, and we hope the book will stimulate new debates.”

Diane Larsen-Freeman is a professor of education, a professor of linguistics, and a research scientist at the English Language Institute at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a distinguished senior faculty fellow at the Graduate SIT Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont.


About the Prize
The Kenneth W. Mildenberger Prize was established by the MLA Executive Council in 1979. First presented in 1980, the prize is awarded under the auspices of the MLA's Committee on Honors and Awards. From 1998 to 2002, the prize was awarded in alternate years to an outstanding book and an outstanding article in the field. From 2004 to 2007, the Kenneth W. Mildenberger Prize was selected by a committee that also reviewed work for the Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize, which is awarded for an outstanding work in the fields of language, culture, literacy, or literature with strong application to the teaching of English.

Kenneth W. Mildenberger (1921-79) devoted his distinguished career to the advancement of the study of foreign languages. He received his PhD in 1951 from New York University and an honorary doctorate of laws from Middlebury College in 1963. He joined the staff of the MLA in 1952 and served as associate secretary and director of the association's Foreign Language Program until 1958. He then moved to Washington, DC, where he served first as assistant chief of the Language Development Section in the United States Office of Education and then as chief until 1961. From 1962 to 1965 he served as director of the Division of College and University Assistance of the United States Office of Education. After his government service, Mildenberger returned to the MLA as deputy executive secretary and treasurer. During his career at the MLA he was instrumental in the establishment of the Center for Applied Linguistics, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and the first ERIC Clearinghouse on Foreign Languages. He also directed numerous research projects; edited special publications, and was the founding editor of Foreign Language Annals.

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