The Hong Kong Association for Applied Linguistics was established in 1980. It started with a group of applied linguists who got together frequently to discuss, over wine and cheese at home, linguistics and English language teaching, amongst other things. The idea of setting up an association to formalize this kind of meeting and to provide a forum for ideas exchange was first proposed by the late Mr. Ray Tongue, who was then working as a consultant to the Advisory Inspectorate of the Hong Kong Government Education Department. This was supported by colleagues in Hong Kong Polytechnic, Hong Kong University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Some of the founding members were Peter Barnes and John Hunt of the Hong Kong Polytechnic and John Gibbons and Graham Lowe of Hong Kong University. HAAL started with a membership of about 50, and now we have close to 100.

HAAL holds regular seminars throughout the academic year. These usually take place at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Over the years, speakers at these seminars have included many local and overseas linguists and applied linguists. Established figures and newcomers alike are invited to speak as long as the topic is relevant and interesting. The Association usually tries to strike a balance between overseas and local speakers, and between individual papers and panel discussions. Well-known figures who have addressed HAAL include Michael Halliday, Jack Richards (a former Chairman of HAAL), David Nunan, Ron Carter, Lyle Bachman, Liz Hamp-Lyons, and Merrill Swain.

HAAL is not only a place where you can come for seminars which interest you, but also a place where you get to meet or see colleagues from other institutions, whom you might not meet otherwise, and to keep yourself up-to-date with the developments in other institutions. We also conduct a Research Forum every few years. What’s more, we organize an annual boat trip. Imagine yourself on-board along with other applied linguists!

The best way to find out more about HAAL is to come to the seminars and join us for dinner afterwards, but why not simply apply for membership now by going to the Membership page.

Further details of HAAL may refer to our official site at