von Jun.-Prof. Antje Wilton, AILA-Europe Coordinator 2011-2015
It is one of the key events in European applied linguistics: the AILA-Europe Junior Researchers Meeting. AILA, the International Association of Applied Linguistics and parent organisation of national affiliates of AL, is actively promoting regional activities in several parts of the globe. European regionalisation has been a success now for almost 10 years, having taken shape in the form of AILA-Europe, a regional subdivision of AILA International coordinating activities of their member organisations from North to South and East to West – Europe has applied linguists in all its corners.
One of the aims of AILA is to increase cultural and linguistic diversity within the research community. And as with every good parent, the efforts start with the young. Every year, AILA-Europe invites young researchers from all over Europe to get together and share their research, their work in progress, their MA or PhD projects with peers as well as with more experienced researchers. Participants from different European countries with various language backgrounds meet for the AILA-Europe Junior Researchers Meeting (JRM), presenting research that reflects the variety of the field of applied linguistics.
AILA-Europe is keen to provide a platform for young researchers that is both affordable and stimulating. This seems an attractive task, as we were never short of offers from affiliates to host the JRM. We have thus been able to visit many beautiful and busy places in Europe, such as Groningen, Netherlands, Münster, Germany, Jyväskylä, Finland, Dublin, Ireland and this year – Winterthur, Switzerland.
Having been AILA-Europe Coordinator for the past four years, I have seen and enjoyed the JRM establishing itself as a valuable, stimulating and above all – fun event in the European academic landscape. Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Winterthur took on the challenging task of providing such an affordable yet attractive location – in Switzerland, which is not generally known for its low costs! However, the hosts excelled themselves with offering an all-inclusive package with accommodation, lunches and a great conference dinner all in one. The academic programme was highly inspiring: not only were many areas of Applied Linguistics covered by the collection of participants’ papers, the keynote speakers provided valuable insights into their biographies as applied linguists and practitioners as well as offering their advice in a workshop on ‘Planning your research career’.
It was very refreshing to experience how open and interested the young researchers were: determined to make the most of this opportunity, they were not too shy to introduce themselves and ask their burning questions – after lectures as well as in coffee breaks and at dinner tables. It turned out that the JRM attracts not only European young researchers: there were participants from Canada, Pakistan and even Japan.
As always, it was worthwhile coming to Winterthur and to the JRM!