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EL Awards

Matt Salusbury writes


Sue Blundell, executive director of English Australia from 2002–15 and occasional Gazette contributor, has been awarded Member of the Order of Australia. Her decoration, for ‘significant service to education, particularly to the teaching of languages, and to professional learning and tourism bodies’, was announced in the Australia Day Honours List on 26 January. As well as heading English Australia, Sue has served as a member of the Ministerial Coordinating Council for

International Education (part of the federal government’s Department of Education and Training) and as general manager of international education at the Australian Centre for Languages. She was also on the Education Visa Consultative Committee of the Australian Government Department of Immigration. Sue told the Gazette she’d had an enjoyable Australia Day hearing from people she’d not heard from since her retirement. She is looking forward to receiving the actual medal at a ceremony sometime in April or May on a date yet to be confirmed.


The New Year’s Honours List for 2017 saw two decorations, both Order of the British Empire (OBEs), for English language teaching professionals. Professor Susan Hunston of the University of Birmingham won her OBE for services to higher education and applied linguistics. She was joined by Professor Ros Richards of the University of Reading with an OBE for services to language support for international education. Professor Hunston (above) began her career as one of the leading researchers on the pioneering Cobuild project (it stands for ‘Collins Birmingham University International Language Database’). This created one of the first electronic corpuses of contemporary English text. It was followed by the world’s first dictionary based on entirely authentic language (now standard practice) with The Collins Cobuild Learners Dictionary and other titles in the series.

She also played a key role in the development of Pattern Grammar, which changed how dictionaries, course books and grammar books are written. Professor Hunston said of her award, ‘I’m really thrilled at this honour. It’s great that the international importance of applied linguistics is being recognised in this way.’ Professor Richards’s award recognised her two decades of work at Reading, which included the creation of the International Study and Language Institute (ISLI). She said of her award, ‘It’s wonderful to see the field I work in recognised. As a sector, we are encouraging the globalisation of higher education by providing high quality language support for students to achieve their academic potential when studying in another language whether or not that be in the UK or overseas, through successful international partnerships.’