Penny McKay Memorial Award for Best Thesis in Australian Language Education

Penny McKay Memorial Award for Best Thesis in Australian Language Education

This is a national award for an outstanding doctoral thesis which benefits the teaching and learning of second/additional languages in Australian schools, including Indigenous languages, community languages, foreign languages, Standard Australian English as an additional language or variety, and English as a foreign language.

The Award is jointly offered by the Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA), the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA) and the Association for Language Testing and Assessment of Australia and New Zealand (ALTAANZ). It is administered by ALAA.

The closing date for this year’s applications is 31 October 2023.

Please send all submissions to the chair of the selection panel, Prof Chris Davison, by the deadline.

For further details about the Award, please go to: Who we are – Australian Council of TESOL Associations

Make sure you follow the application guidelines and that you are eligible.

The Award was established and is maintained from donations from individuals, professional associations and other institutions in Australia and overseas. To donate to the maintenance of this Award, or for further details, please email Prof Chris Davison,

Recipients to date



Susan Creagh (University of Queensland)

A Foucauldian and quantitative analysis of NAPLaN, the category ‘Language Background Other Than English’ and English as a Second Language level.

Julia Rothwell (Queensland University of Technology)

Let’s eat the captain! Thinking, feeling, doing: Intercultural language learning through process drama.


Jennifer Alford (Queensland University of Technology)

Conceptualisations and enactment of Critical Literacy for senior high school EAL learners in Queensland, Australia: Commitments, constraints and contradictions.


No award.


No award


Amanda Hiorth (University of Melbourne)

“I want to grow my country”: Refugee-background Karen students in transitions: Experiences in the move from language school to mainstream schooling.


No award.


Kathryn MacFarlane (Monash University)

Transformational Change for Primary Years’ Foreign Language Programs: Developing Oral Language Skills for Spoken Interaction in the Classroom


Bonita Cabiles (University of Melbourne)

Participation and cultural and linguistic diversity: An in-depth qualitative inquiry of an Australian primary classroom


Denise Angelo (Australian National University)

Countering misrecognition of Indigenous contact languages and their ecologies

ATESOL ACT Life Membership

ATESOL ACT Life Membership

2021: Lesley Cioccarelli and Jennifer Mayers

Jennifer has been a member of ATESOL ACT for over 25 years and served as president, treasurer and committee member during that time. She has been involved in the TESOL field from her first posting to a preschool in Post Augusta, South Australia, in 1979. In 1980, she was the first ESL preschool teacher appointed to visit preschools in the ACT, combining the role with identifying students with delayed or disordered language development. Her work in the ACT included teaching in primary schools, leading an Introductory English Centre and managing the EAL/D programs in the ACT Education Directorate. She was one of the first accredited Teaching ESL in the Mainstream tutors in the ACT, presenting central and school-based courses for over seven years. Jennifer has been an ACT representative councillor on the national Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA), serving as treasurer since 2012. She has also been treasurer for the SATESOL association.

Lesley has been a Committee member since 2006, and has served as President and Vice President. She built ATESOL ACT’s original website in 2006 and, except for a couple of years she took off, she managed the website until 2021. Lesley also established ATESOL ACT’s social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. She has delivered many stimulating professional development events for ATESOL ACT, and organised many more. Lesley has also served as an ACTA Councillor and managed the ACTA website for many years. She has presented at ACTA Conferences and also for our sibling associations, QATESOL and TasTESOL, and at other conferences in Australia and beyond.

2018: Helen Moore

Helen is a long standing TESOL researcher and advocate for the field. She was recognised for significant service to English language education and to community music by being made Member (AM) in the General Division of the Queen’s Birthday honours list in 2019.
Read more about Helen and her work here: Queen’s Birthday Honour for Dr Helen Moore

2014: Misty Adoniou

Misty has been ATESOL ACT President, ACTA Representative, and was also President of the Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA) from 2007 to 2009. She has also served on The Affiliate Leadership Council of TESOL International, an organisation representing 103 worldwide Teachers Associations and the TESOL International Board of Directors.
Read more about Misty and her work here: Misty Adoniou – ATESOL ACT’s first Life Member