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Review of  The Concise Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics

Reviewer: Camille Meritan
Book Title: The Concise Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics
Book Author: Carol A. Chapelle
Publisher: Wiley
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Issue Number: 31.2187

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This “Concise Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics” is a condensed version of the “Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics” edited by Carol A. Chappelle and published in 2012. 180 of the most online accessed entries from the “Encyclopedia” were updated to create the concise version. This “Concise Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics” edited by Carol A. Chapelle aims at introducing readers new to Applied Linguistics with an overview of the field.

This aim is thoroughly achieved by organizing the 180 entries alphabetically and dividing them into thirteen thematic units. There is a total of 215 contributors from more than 30 countries. The Encyclopedia also provides readers with a concise definition of applied linguistics and explains how the field of applied linguistics touches on “a wide range of issues, each of which may be shared by another discipline” (p. xxvi). The “Concise Encyclopedia” provides readers with an extensive survey of terminology and constructs, some “emphasiz[ing] the problems applied linguists investigate and others target[ing] research methods used in applied linguistics” (p. xxvii).

The list of entries and subjects at the beginning facilitate navigation around the book and make it easy to identify and locate topics. The title of the thematic units appears in bold in pages vii to xi; then the entries are listed alphabetically. This Encyclopedia can also be used as a dictionary as most entries begin with a short definition of the term/topic/subject in question.

The thirteen thematic units are: Analysis of context of language use (with entries related to heritage languages, language identity, and language ideology among others), Analysis of language use (with entries related to conversation analysis, corpus analysis, and discourse among others), Language assessment and testing (with entries related to assessment of skills, rating, validation, and washback among others), Language learning and teaching, (with entries related to classroom research, second language instruction, and study abroad among others), Language policy and planning (with entries related to the African Union, Francophonie and russification among others), Language for specific purposes (with entries related to academic, business, and occupational purposes among others), Linguistic analysis for applied problems (with entries related to formulaic language, grammar, lexicon, pragmatics, and pronunciation among others), Multilingualism (with entries related to bilingual and multilingual education among others), Research methods (with entries related to quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods among others), Second language development (with entries related to critical period, interlanguage, third language acquisition, beliefs and motivation among others), Technology and language (with entries related to computer and mobile assisted language learning among others), Translation and interpreting (with issues related to history of translation, and different approaches to translation among others), and finally World Englishes (with entries related to English as a Lingua Franca among others). The topics are not limited to one sub-field such as Second Language Acquisition or Language Policy but cover a wide array of problems and issues, as well as research methods one might encounter in Applied Linguistics.

All entry end with “see also” key words and phrases discussed throughout the volume and a reference list. Most provide a “suggested readings” list as well to complement the reference list.


This concise Encyclopedia clearly and comprehensively surveys Applied Linguistics terminology. The international specialists contributing to this Encyclopedia offer articles that are not overwhelmingly discussing their own innovations. When it is the case, it is done subtly. As stated in the introduction, this offers readers valuable content, and gives novice readers the opportunity to acquire knowledge from the best in the field.

Indeed, the Encyclopedia draws from all subfields of Applied Linguistics. From language ideology, and language and identity to World Englishes, it covers a very wide array of topics. Under Analysis of Language use, one can find articles about conversation analysis in a variety of contexts, such as Classroom interaction or Computer-mediated interactions; but also, about corpus analysis or Discourse analysis, thus rendering this unit especially useful for researchers wishing to expand their knowledge of and about language analysis. The language assessment unit brilliantly covers assessment in the classroom in general, including a very well written article on the role of assessment in the classroom combining social constructivism and educational assessment literature, as well as more specific topics such as assessment of listening, pragmatics, reading, speaking, vocabulary, and writing – everything a novice researcher in language testing and assessment could wish for.

A researcher looking to expand their knowledge about language policy and planning will find contributions concerning the African Union, the Council of Europe, English-only movement, but also language planning and history on the first emperor of unified Chin, as well as an article on the International Organization of Francophonie, its history and current policies, an article on Linguistic human rights, and the history of russification in the post-soviet era. This unit is thus extremely well-rounded and well-thought out, covering a variety of linguistic background as well as historical details.

The unit on Language for specific purposes is another interesting unit especially considering Generation Z’s enthusiasm for a more pragmatic, and relevant education (Seemiller & Grace, 2019). However, it would have been particularly relevant to include articles concerning other languages than English as many learners wish to use French or Spanish for business to travel and/or work abroad. Furthermore, considering this current Generation which composes the majority of our classrooms right now, and knowing that many Gen Z learners are multilingual, an article on Spanish/French/Chinese for specific purposes would have been a nice addition.

The Linguistic Analysis for Applied Problems is a formidable unit encompassing many topics from grammar to pragmatics, lexical borrowings and pronunciation assessment. It is particularly useful for researchers starting to learn about Applied Linguistics but also for those of us who wish to freshen up on those topics we do not study every day. Each article provides a brief description and historical background of the topic under study, as well as a brief theoretical background and review of the literature.

The unit on Multilingualism is well developed covering bilingualism and immersion, as well as multilingualism and metalinguistic awareness and teacher education for multilingual education. It is indeed especially important to acknowledge the fact that most current students not only belong to Gen Z (being born after 1995) but also learned English not as a second language but as a new language in addition to other languages previously learned (Selingo, 2018), and this unit does so very well.

The research methods unit is also very well developed and covers an array of methods crucial for Applied Linguistics research from case study, to qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods, the latter becoming more and more important in the field of Applied Linguistics. It would have been interesting to address Cumming (2012), Larson-Hall (2015) and Plonsky’s (2015) call for changing and advancing the way quantitative research is carried out in applied linguistics in general and second language research specifically, i.e., reporting effect sizes and confidence intervals rather than just p-value statistical significance.

The tenth thematic unit on Second Language development presents the main points of the foundations of second language acquisition (SLA). This unit covers from attention, noticing, and awareness in SLA to the critical period hypothesis, cross-linguistic influence and third language acquisition. Each article offers a brief description of the terminology as well as some review of the literature and/or historical background. Each article summarizes its concept very clearly. This unit is particularly useful for novice researchers in Applied Linguistics who want to survey or focus on Second Language Acquisition.

The antepenultimate unit offers articles on technology and language. The articles within this unit address multimodality, speech recognition, computer-assisted language learning (CALL), and computer-mediated communication (CMC) among others. Considering that Gen Z is the most tech savvy generation to date, acknowledging their use of technology, and discussing and advancing our teaching methods is an important step towards supporting this generation.

The last two units on Translation and Interpreting, and World Englishes are rather short but cover the essentials. Translation and Interpreting gathers well-detailed articles about cognitive, cultural, and functional approaches to translation, as well as history of translation. World Englishes discusses the varieties of English in Asia, Lingua Franca and English as a second language.

One of the downsides of Encyclopedias is that it does read like a dictionary more than a handbook. It would also have been practical to be provided with a list of entries by author along with the thematic list, as it makes navigation around somewhat difficult if looking for a particular author. But to the Editors’ credit, deciding on the 180 entries from the original Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics must have been a difficult evaluative exercise. It does not feel here, as if the Encyclopedia was cut short but rather reorganized to include only the most essential entries for novice readers. Obviously, not all readers will agree with the selection of entries, but it is important to keep in mid the main goal of this Concise Encyclopedia to “introduce readers to language-related issues that arise in the real world where languages are learned and used” (p. xxv). Furthermore, it gives those readers the opportunity to find out more about the field of Applied Linguistics from the valuable contributors of this Concise Encyclopedia.

Overall, this edited Encyclopedia is a great introduction to Applied Linguistics. The limitations that are inherent to any encyclopedias are handled well and this volume makes an important contribution to the field of Applied Linguistics.

In conclusion, I would argue that this volume is an excellent addition to any applied linguist’s library beyond the novice reader as it provides refreshers on methods and approaches and offers a wide range of topics relevant to many. It is also a wonderful addition for any student in the field whether debutant or finishing their studies. Finally, it can also be useful to advisors should they need to read up and freshen up on their advisees’ research.
Camille Meritan has recently defended her dissertation on self-reflection as a pronunciation learning strategy for Generation Z learners of French. She will graduate this Spring 2020 from the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign. She will join the Modern Languages Department at Bentley University this summer as Assistant Professor of French.

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