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Professor Emeritus


B.A. (Honours) in Modern Languages, University of Cambridge (1961)
M.A. in Applied Linguistics, University of Essex (1973)
P.G.C.E., University of Leicester (1963)



For several years I taught in secondary schools in England and then moved into teacher education at the University College of Swansea in Wales. I came to Hong Kong in 1991 on a one-year research contract and decided to stay. I taught at the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University before joining Hong Kong Baptist University in 1998, where I remained until 2004. From 2004 to 2010 I taught at the Hong Kong Institute of Education and have now re-joined HKBU to lecture on the MA in Language Studies, in addition to serving as an Honorary Professor.

Outside the university I have served on several government committees concerned with English, including the Key Learning Area Committee on English Language Education and the English panel for the Chief Executive's Award for Teaching Excellence. In addition to my publications on language teaching and learning, I have presented conference papers and conducted workshops in many countries.

  • Applied linguistics
  • Language teaching methodology
  • Foreign and second language learning

2004-2010 Professor / Senior Lecturer, Department of English, Hong Kong Institute of Education
1998-2004 Professor for TESOL and Applied Linguistics, Language Centre, HKBU
1996-1998 Associate Professor, Department of English, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
1992-1996 Principal Language Instructor, English Centre, University of Hong Kong
1991-1992 Hong Kong Bank Research Fellow, Institute of Language in Education, Hong Kong
1990-1991 Head of the Department of Language Studies, Christ Church College, Canterbury
1973-1990 Senior Lecturer / Lecturer in Education, University College of Swansea, U.K.
1963-1972 Teacher of Modern Languages at secondary schools in the U.K.

Teacher of English, Berlitz School, Augsburg, Germany


Articles (since 2007)

  • Introduction to Part 1 of M. Thomas & H. Reinders (eds.) Contemporary Task-based Language Teaching in Asia. London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming in 2014.
  • Methodology for teaching English for specific purposes. In V.J. Bhatia & S. Bremner (eds.). Handbook of language and professional communication. New York: Routledge, 2014, 287-302.
  • Communication-oriented language teaching: Where are we now? Where do we go from here? Language Teaching, 47(3), 2014, 349-362.
  • Task-based learning in language teacher education. On Task, 4(1), 2014, 11-16.
  • Developing a context-sensitive pedagogy for communication-oriented language teaching. English Language Teaching, 2013, 68(3), 3-25.
  • Mother tongue use in the foreign language classroom. In M. Byram & A. Hu (eds.) Routledge Encyclopaedia of Language Teaching and Learning. London: Routledge, 2013, 482-485.
  • Learners’ metaphors stimulate thinking and discussion. Modern English Teacher, 21(2), 2012, 12-16,
  • Communicative language teaching: An expanding concept for a changing world. In E. Hinkel (ed.) Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning, Volume II. London: Routledge, 2011, 541-557.
  • Process-orientation in language teaching: What are the processes and where are the products? In W.M. Chan, K.N. Chin, M. Nagami & T. Suthiwan (eds.) Processes and Process-Orientation in Foreign Language Teaching. Boston: De Gruyter Mouton, 2011, 21-40.
  • (With Su, F.) Teachers’ use of the mother tongue in English language classrooms in China’s Mainland and Hong Kong. Foreign Language Teaching in Schools, 34(8), 2011, 45-48.
  • (With Yu, B.) First language and target language in the foreign language classroom. Language Teaching, 44(1), 2011, 64-77.
  • Chinese and Japanese students’ conceptions of the ‘ideal English lesson’. RELC Journal, 41(1), 2010, 46-58.
  • Small differences in grammar make big differences in meaning. Modern English Teacher, 19(2), 2010.
  • Communicative group work in the foreign language classroom. Foreign Language Teaching in Schools, 33(2), 2010, 1-6.
  • Process-oriented pedagogy: facilitation, empowerment or control? ELT Journal, 63(3), 2009, 246-254.
  • OBE: A coin with two sides or many different coins? ELT Journal, 63(3), 2009, 263-264.
  • Chinese learners and interactive learning. In T. Coverdale-Jones & P. Rastall (eds.) Internationalising the University: the Chinese context. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009, 206-222.
  • Participation-based pedagogy: How congruent is it with Chinese cultures of learning? In P.K. Cheng & J.X. Yan (eds.) Who Are We? Cultural Identity and Language Anxiety. Guilin: Guangxi Normal University Press, 2009, 179-202.
  • Group work: Opportunities, challenges and strategies for implementation. In Incorporating Global Issues in English Education: Contents, Methods, and Materials. Seoul: Korean Association of Teachers of English, 2008, 101-106.
  • Thirty years later: Henry Widdowson’s Teaching language as communication. Invited ‘Classic Book’ review for International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 18(2), 2008, pp. 212-217.
  • Foreign language teaching methods: From past prescriptions to present principles. Foreign Language Teaching in Schools, 31(4). 2008, 1-13.
  • Communicative and task-based language teaching in East Asian classrooms. Language Teaching, 40(3), 2007, 243-249.

Books (authored)

  • Communicative Language Teaching: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press, 1981. x + 110 pp. (Basque translation, 1986; Japanese translation, 1991; Bahasa Malaysia translation, 1992; Spanish translation, 1996; edition co-published with the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press / People’s Education Press, Beijing, 2000; Korean translation, 2007; Greek translation, 2008)
  • Foreign and Second Language Acquisition: Language Acquisition Research and its Implications for the Classroom.  Cambridge University Press, 1984. 114 pp. (Basque translation, 1986; edition co-published with the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press / People’s Education Press, Beijing, 2000)
  • (With Liu, N.F.) Hong Kong Students and Their English. Hong Kong: MacMillan, 1996. vi + 184 pp
  • Teaching Oral Communication: A Methodological Framework. Oxford: Blackwell, 1992. vi + 121 pp. (Spanish translation, 1994.)

  • 2010 – 2014: LANG 7580 Language Development (MA in Language Studies)
  • 2010 – 2012: LANG 7530 Language Curriculum (MA in Language Studies)