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Professor Anne Burns

Photo Professor Anne BurnsThe work of Professor Anne Burns, a Professor of Linguistics in the Faculty of Human Sciences, has received further recognition with two new international appointments.

A Member of the Standing Committee for Research for TESOL International, USA, for the past three years, Professor Burns has now been made Chair. TESOL International is the largest professional association in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in the world, with affiliates in every continent.

The Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliqué (AILA) has also appointed Professor Burns a Member of its Executive Board, and Chair of its Honorary Membership Committee. AILA is the premier international organisation for applied linguistics and has more than 8,000 members worldwide.

Professor Burns, the Director of Macquarie’s Applied Linguistics and Language in Education (ALLE) Research Centre, is the co-editor with Professor Jack C Richards of the recent Cambridge Guide for Second Language Teacher Education (Cambridge University Press, 2009). A second single authored publication, Doing Action Research for English Language Teachers (Routledge) is about to be released.

“Applied Linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of research and practice which investigates practical problems of language and communication. Language is almost invisible to most people – it’s like the air they breathe – but it is at the heart of human interaction,” said Professor Burns.

“It’s critically important in the community and in professions: in medicine between doctors and patients, and between doctors and other health professionals; in legal circles; in educational practices; translating and interpreting; psychology and the media.”

Professor Burns’ own research focus has been on educational linguistics, including language learning and adult migration, second language literacy development and spoken discourse analysis. Illustrating the scope of her work are also her links with Macquarie’s Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism: first as Academic Director and now as an Honorary Fellow.

“English has become an international language over the past two decades but it is no longer a question of just the standard forms of British or American English. There are world varieties of ‘Englishes’ and there are challenging issues here in how English should be taught – not only in the major English-speaking countries but in other multi-lingual nations such as India, South Africa and Singapore. The idea of teaching people to speak English like a native speaker has become irrelevant in a plurilingual world where we need to communicate effectively and be comprehensible to each other,” said Professor Burns.

While working in a Macquarie project with the Open University in the UK from 1999 to 2001, Professor Burns co-edited the book, Analyzing English in the Global Context. Chapters include demographic and economic projections of the pre-eminence of English and discussions on whether English will remain the predominant language in a context of China’s growing international influence and the increase in the use of Spanish worldwide.