Chartered Institute
of Linguists

David Crystal Award

Special Award for outstanding contribution to the field of languages

Professor David Crystal HonFCIL and Vice-President of CIOL (pictured on the right), is known throughout the world as a linguist, academic, author and broadcaster on languages. He donated an award to CIOL which is given annually in his name.

The winner of the award is an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of languages throughout their life and career. They may not be a linguist themselves, but languages will have been a constant within their work and life and they will have used their knowledge to help or inspire others.

Please note winners are selected by the CIOL Awards Committee, and there is no public nomination process for this for this award.


Current holder and previous winners



2024 Winner: Professor Michael Kelly OBE

Michael Kelly, as professor of French at the University of Southampton held numerous important positions as a strong advocate of languages and language learning, including as prime mover and member of the Nuffield Language Inquiry, which put languages on the public agenda in 2000. Chair of UCML in the 1990s, and Director of the national Centre for Languages Linguistics and Area Studies his work supported Higher Education Institutions in developing their research-informed education practices, including hosting what were then the only national conferences on Higher Education teaching and learning of languages and related subjects. In his numerous national positions, he has always been a strong and influential advocate for languages and language learning.




2023 Winner: Chris Dennis

The multilingual sports correspondent Chris Dennis received the David Crystal Award, presented to an individual for whom languages have been part of their work and life and who uses their knowledge to inspire others to learn languages. Chris is a regular on TV and radio reporting on sporting events. He broadcasts in French, and speaks Spanish and Mandarin among other languages. He frequently visits schools where he encourages young sports enthusiasts to consider adding a language to their GCSE and A-level choices.






2021-22 Winner: Rt Rev Bishop Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds

Bishop Nick Baines was chosen for the award as he is an outstanding champion for the importance of languages and cultures and for his willingness to speak out for languages at national level both in the media and in the House of Lords. A graduate in French and German with excellent Russian, Nick worked at GCHQ before becoming a priest.






Past David Crystal Award winners

The David Crystal Award recognises a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of languages in their life and career.

Current and past winners

2024: Professor Michael Kelly MBE
2022-23: Chris Dennis
2021-22: Rev Nick Baines
2020: Bridget Kendall MBE
2019: Renée Van Hoof-Haferkamp
2018: Frank Gardner OBE
2017: Susie Dent
2016: Dr Lid King
2015: (not awarded)
2014: Shpresa Programme/Luljeti Nuzi
2013: Rosie Goldsmith, Journalist & Chair, European Literature Night
2012: Svetlana Carsten
2011: Prof Dr Erik Hertog
2010: Paul Hughes

About The David Crystal Award

Over a decade ago, CIOL was receiving strong Awards nominations year after year. In recognition of this, it was decided that an additional award should be presented and this was kindly donated by Professor David Crystal, a Vice-President of the Chartered Institute.