We are pleased to announce the co-recipients of the 2023 TIRF James E. Alatis Prize for Research on Language Planning and Policy in Educational Contexts. Dr. Wayne E. Wright (Purdue University), Dr. Sovicheth Boun (Salem State University), and Dr. Virak Chan (Purdue University), have been named as this year’s co-recipients of TIRF’s Alatis Prize. Their article is entitled “Implementation of Multilingual Mother Tongue Education in Cambodian Public Schools for Indigenous Ethnic Minority Students” (2022, Educational Linguistics, De Gruyter Mouton).

Individuals interested in reading the Alatis Prize-winning article may do so by clicking here. The article can be read online and/or downloaded for free.

Here, we share biographical information about each of the TIRF Alatis Prize co-recipients along with a quote from each of them concerning what receiving the Prize means to them.

Dr. Wayne E. Wright

Dr. Wayne E. Wright 

Bio: Dr. Wayne E. Wright completed his PhD at Arizona State University. Currently, he is the Associate Dean for Research, Graduate Programs, and Faculty Development and the Barbara I. Cook Chair of Literacy and Language in the College of Education at Purdue University. He is co-principal investigator (with Principal Investigator Trish Morita-Mullaney) on over $6M in federal grants focused on improving ELL and bilingual education in Indiana. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Cambodia, and is a former ESL and bilingual teacher in Long Beach, California, where he helped establish one of the first Cambodian bilingual programs in the country. He is co-editor (with Hyun-Sook Kang) of the Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, editor of the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement, and co-editor (with Nancy Hornberger) of Multilingual Matters’ Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. He is the author of Foundations for Teaching English Language Learners: Research Theory, Policy, and Practice, and co-author (with Colin Baker) of Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. He is co-editor (with Sovicheth Boun and Ofelia Garcia) of the Handbook of Bilingual and Multilingual Education, and co-editor (with Chang Pu) of Innovating the TESOL Practicum in Teacher Education: Design, Implementation, and Pedagogy in an Era of Change.

Quote: “I have long appreciated the work of TIRF in providing support to graduate students and scholars and in recognizing outstanding scholarship in the field of language and education. It is an immense honor to receive the 2023 James E. Alatis Prize for Research on Language Planning and Policy in Educational Contexts alongside my dear colleagues and friends, Sovicheth Boun and Virak Chan. We hope this award brings attention to the important collaborative work of the Cambodian government, International NGOs including CARE Cambodia, and local indigenous ethnic minority communities to develop and expand multilingual mother-tongue education policies and programs.”

Dr. Sovicheth Boun

Dr. Sovicheth Boun

Bio: A native of Cambodia, Dr. Sovicheth Boun is an Assistant Professor of ESL & Literacy and a Coordinator of the TESOL Graduate Programs in the McKeown School of Education, Salem State University. He received his PhD in Culture, Literacy, and Language from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He has been involved in language teaching and training for over 15 years in both Cambodia and the US. Dr. Boun was a Lecturer of English at the Institute of Foreign Languages, Royal University of Phnom Penh in Cambodia from 2005-2010. Before coming to Salem State, he was a Visiting Assistant Professor of TESOL at the State University of New York at Fredonia, and a Lecturer of Applied Linguistics at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is an incoming Editor-in-Chief of Language Education in Asia. He also serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Language, Identity, and Education. Also, Dr. Boun is on the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement, the International Journal of TESOL Studies, and TESOL Communications. His most recent book is the co-edited volume entitled The Handbook of Bilingual and Multilingual Education (Wright, Boun, & Garcia, 2015).

Quote: “I am truly honored to have received the TIRF 2023 James E. Alatis Prize for Research on Language Planning and Policy in Educational Contexts, alongside my incredible mentor and friend, Dr. Wayne E. Wright, and my great colleague and friend, Dr. Virak Chan. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the TIRF Board of Trustees and the reviewers for the recognition and validation of our scholarship. Dr. James E. Alatis (2007) once said, ‘Good teaching happens when competent teachers with non-discouraging personalities use non-defensive approaches to language teaching and learning, and cherish their students.’ It is heartening and humbling to be able to share the work that attests to Dr. Alatis’ legacy and vision for language education and policy. By having our work recognized and shared in this manner, we are able to showcase the incredible work of the local, national, and international stakeholders (e.g., the Indigenous communities, the Cambodian government, the local and international NGOs, etc.) who believe in and seek to promote inclusive and equitable quality multilingual education for Indigenous ethnic minority communities whose marginalization and deprivation were a result of long-standing ideological, epistemological, and ethno-nationalistic differences and oppression. Moreover, this award bespeaks TIRF’s commitment to language education and investments in individuals and organizations worldwide, ‘empowering them to build a brighter future for themselves, those they serve, and our multilingual world’ (TIRF Mission Statement, 2023). With that, I am eternally grateful!”

Dr. Virak Chan

Dr. Virak Chan

Bio: Dr. Virak Chan, a Cambodian native, is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in literacy and language at Purdue University. He is a co-principal investigator on an Indiana Department of Education learning recovery grant for over $1M focusing on ELL education in Indiana. He obtained a Ph.D. in Culture, Literacy, and Language at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas, and was a Cambodian Fulbright student in a master’s in TESOL program at San Jose State University, California. Dr. Chan has extensive English language teaching, teacher training, and research experience, and has published in the areas of language planning and policies, linguistic landscape, bilingual/multilingual education, teacher education, and curriculum development. He has facilitated professional development activities for English language teachers, and has developed and coordinated educational programs at universities in Cambodia, California, Texas, and Indiana. He has served on the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement, has served on the Graduate Student Award Committee, and has co-coordinated the Bilingual, Immersion, Heritage, and Language Minority Education strand of the American Association of Applied Linguistics.

Quote: “As a former TIRF DDG (Doctoral Dissertation Grants) awardee, it’s my pleasure and honor once again to be recognized by TIRF. Receiving the 2023 TIRF James E. Alatis Prize for Research on Language Planning and Policy in Educational Contexts with my colleagues and friends, Dr. Wayne Wright and Dr. Sovicheth Boun, is an exceptional honor. I am thankful for everyone involved in recognizing and promoting research in language education, particularly those at TIRF; I know the importance of this work. We hope this recognition of our research helps to bring renewed attention to the importance of multilingual education, specifically in the indigenous ethnic minority communities.”

Please join the TIRF community in congratulating Dr. Wright, Dr. Boun, and Dr. Chan on their outstanding accomplishment!

About TIRF and the TIRF Alatis Prize

The TIRF Alatis Prize was established in 2014 to honor James E. Alatis, a TIRF founder and long-serving Trustee of the Foundation. TIRF Trustees decided to recognize an outstanding article or chapter in the field of language planning and policy in educational contexts in Dr. Alatis’ name, because he committed a great deal of his career working in the field of language education policy.

For the 2023 Prize, nominations of articles published in 2021 or 2022 were solicited. The Foundation’s team of reviewers, who are scholars in the field of language planning and policy, adjudicated the nominations. TIRF Trustees Joan Kang Shin and Polina Vinogradova (Co-Chairs of TIRF’s Alatis Prize Committee) along with Trustees Donna Christian and Jodi Crandall helped to shape many of the competition’s details. The result of this process was the selection of the Wright et al. (2022) article highlighted above.

TIRF will formally present the award during its session at the International TESOL Convention in Portland, Oregon, USA in March. Further details about the presentation will be shared via TIRF Today (click here and scroll to the bottom to subscribe to TIRF’s monthly newsletter) and on TIRF’s website.

TIRF is committed to developing knowledge about English language learning and teaching in various settings through a coherent program of research, dissemination, and networking. The offering of the TIRF Alatis Prize is consistent with the following aspect of the Foundation’s mission: to influence the formation and implementation of appropriate language education policies, recognizing the importance of indigenous languages and cultures worldwide, and of English as an international language. Members of TIRF’s Board of Trustees, who serve on a voluntary basis, are drawn from academia, publishing, business, and government. To date, TIRF has awarded monies to fund 219 research projects involving 246 researchers from nearly 30 countries.

To learn more about TIRF, click here, or write to Ryan Damerow, Chief Operating Officer at TIRF, at [email protected].