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Emma Marie Birkmaier Award

The ACTFL-NFMLTA/MLJ Emma Marie Birkmaier Award for Doctoral Dissertation Research in Foreign Language Education

The Emma Marie Birkmaier Award honors ACTFL’s first president, a person who worked tirelessly in the creation of the association and its new programs, including the ACTFL Annual Bibliography of Books and Articles on Pedagogy in Foreign Languages and the ACTFL Review of Foreign Language Education (now known as the ACTFL Foreign Language Education Series). She was an outstanding teacher educator at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and her career influenced countless students of foreign language education at that institution and practicing teachers across the nation. Through publications, professional service, and the organization of summer institutes for foreign language professionals, her legacy and impact continue unabated.

The Emma Marie Birkmaier Award was established in 1980 to recognize an author of doctoral dissertation research in foreign language education that contributes significantly to the advancement of the profession. Royalties from Foreign Language Learning Today, Pergamon Press, Ltd., London, established the award.

Beginning in 1989, the recipient receives a $500 cash award, provided by the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers' Associations (NFMLTA) and The Modern Language Journal. The cash award is evidence of the commitment of ACTFL, NFMLTA and The Modern Language Journal to research in foreign and second language acquisition and to the application of its results to the classroom.

Criteria for Selection

  1. The dissertation should deal with language learning or teaching, teacher preparation, curriculum development, evaluation, or any field directly related to second or foreign language education.
  2. The dissertation shall have been completed during the two calendar years preceding the award ceremony.
  3. Both qualitative and quantitative dissertations are eligible.
  4. The dissertation should have the following components:
    1. a statement of the context in which the research took place and a description of the processes involved;
    2. review of the literature related to the problem, including the contribution to the study being reviewed;
    3. a clear and detailed design of the study;
    4. clear and systematic analysis of the data;
    5. conclusions appropriate to the data;
    6. recognition of the limitations of the study; and
    7. recommendations for further research that are appropriate extensions of the study.
  5. The recipient is not required to be a member of ACTFL.


  • Abstract, dissertation & letter(s) of support submitted online on or before: May 29.
  • Copies of all documentation pertaining to the winner sent to the ACTFL Executive Director: September 1.
  • Copies of all documentation pertaining to finalist(s) returned to individual(s) who submitted them: September 12.
  • Birkmaier Award Chairperson submits a 200-word statement on why the recipient was chosen: September 30.
  • Winner submits 150-word acceptance remarks to be printed in Awards Ceremony Brochure: September 30.


  1. Committee members review the materials submitted.
  2. Committee members rate and rank the dissertations.
  3. At the discretion of the committee, the award may or may not be presented during a given year.
  4. No member of the ACTFL Board of Directors or Officer may write a letter of support for any award nominee or actively shepherd the nomination of an award candidate.  If a dossier packet is resubmitted that contains a support letter written prior to the establishment of these guidelines, that letter will be removed from the packet by the Committee Chair.
  5. No member of the ACTFL Board of Directors, Officer, or contracted employee is eligible for nomination for any award while holding these positions.

Submit Online

Previous Recipients

2019: Céline Rose, Brigham Young University (UT); 2018: Ines A. Martin, United States Naval Academy (MD); 2017: Claire Knowles, University of Memphis; 2016: Sarah Young Knowles, American University; 2015: Liudmila Klimanova, University of Arizona; 2014: No award given; 2013: Aurore Mroz, Colby College, ME; 2012: Anna Kolesnikova; 2011: Jianling Lao,  University of Iowa; 2010: Joshua J. Thoms, Louisiana State University;  2009: Dr. Muhammad Muhammad Abdel Latif, University of Cairo;  2008: Susan Hildebrandt, Longwood University, VA;  2007: Idoia Elola, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX;  2006: Su-Ja Kang, State University of New York at Buffalo;  2005: Anne Cummings, University of Wisconsin, Eau Clair; 2004: Naoko Taguchi, Akita International University; 2003: Insil Chang, Dongguk University, Republic of Korea; 2002: Jungmin Ko, University of Texas, Austin, TX; 2001: Maria Manuela D. Guilherme, University of Durham, Durham, England, U. K.; 2000: Hiram Maxim, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN; 1999: Christiane Bongartz, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC; 1997: H. Julie Chen, Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO; 1996: Sharon Wilkinson, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV; 1994: Judith Liskin-Gasparro, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA; 1993: Beverly Moser, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN; 1992: Tove I. Dahl, Norwegian Center for Research on Adult Education, Trondheim, Norway; 1991: Gail L. Riley, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY; 1989: Julie Ann Archer-Kath, Columbia Heights Public Schools, Columbia Heights, MN; 1988: Elaine Fuller Carter, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN; 1987: Robert Michael De Keyser, Brugge, Belgium; 1986: Kathleen Mar­shall Pederson, Buffalo Grove High School, Hoffman Estates, IL; 1985: Christopher M. Ely, Ball State University, Muncie, IN; 1984: Elizabeth Buchter Bernhardt, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, and Joyce G. Sager, The MacDuffie School, Springfield, MA; 1981: Charles William Twyford, Language Education Associates, Arlington, VA.

Neither "Foreign Language Annals" nor "The Modern Language Journal" retains the right of first refusal with regard to the publica­tion of the results of this research.