Jumped in with both feet,
Stirring up a storm
About language teaching reform.
Made no bones
About his shares
In minimal pairs.
Wrote a lot of papers on
Language teaching, which are essential
Reading and most influential.
Was not given to mirth:
He made many an oration
About the ‘context of situation’.
Harold Palmer was so inventive
He almost took away our incentive:
Whenever you think you’ve found something new,
He probably thought of it before you!
A.S. Hornby, known as Ash,
Made a vast amount of cash.
But when Ash came to dust,
He left it to the Hornby Educational Trust.
A.S.Hornby, known as Ash,
Was methodical, never slapdash.
The results are there for you to see
In the Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary.
Did his best
For Extensive Reading in Bengal;
The benefits have come to us all.
Took little rest
In his efforts to succeed
In getting kids to read.
To Lionel Billows
The profession still owes
A huge debt, so it’s rotten
That his work’s been forgotten.
When Benjamin Lee Whorf compared
English and Hopi, he declared,
‘They have nouns, no verbs, that’s a surprise!
These chaps see the world through different eyes.’
For Bloomfield, Lado, etc. and co.,
Mim-mem and audio-lingualism was all there was to know.
But meaning soon came creeping in
Which made this stuff seem rather thin.
Noam Chomsky was the outright winner
In his confrontation with Skinner.
He showed that language is acquired
Because humans are basically all hard-wired.
Was a glutton for work.
His Contemporary English Grammar
Brought him a peerage and much glamour.
Had a real flair
For computer corporas
So he made COBUILD for all of us.
Had a lot to say
About systemic functional grammar
In a most elegantly entertaining manner.
Caleb Gattegno’s silence
Amounted almost to violence:
If you can’t create your own inner criteria,
You’re liable to be sent to a mental Siberia.
Helps tensions just turn off
By sitting us in comfortable chairs,
And listening to sweet baroque airs.
Father Charles Curran’s ideas
Promised redemption and freedom from fears.
Sit in a circle - tell the knower your wishes,
You’ll soon be able to speak out – simply delicious!
Earl Stevick was somewhat unique.
He had a peculiar mystique.
His quiet brand of humanity
Stood fast against prevailing inanity.
Had a passion
For making input comprehensible –
And grammar learning reprehensible.
Professor Dell Hymes
Was way ahead of his times.
He showed how there were rules of use,
Without which grammar was obtuse.
Henry Widdowson’s plenary lectures
Give rise to fertile conjectures,
And his publications
Offer complex explanations.
David Wilkins concocted a potent potion
When he identified functions and notions.
The Communicative approach now holds sway,
But every dog will have its day.
Christopher Brumfit, now sadly dead,
Had many bright ideas in his head:
Accuracy and fluency,
And educational congruency…
I’m certain you’ve heard of John Trim.
He’s out on a European limb.
He was always the very devil
When it came to the Threshold Level.
NS Prabhu in Bangalore
Showed us what TBT was for.
His procedural syllabus
Has influenced the lot of us.
Ron Carter and Mike McCarthy –
May they both live long and hearty –
They’ve shaped our speech and stammer
Into spoken English grammar.
Louis Alexander was prolific –
His production rate simply terrific.
He worked fit to burst
While writing ‘First Things First’.
Had a pretty good feel
For characters infernal –
Just take a look at ‘Kernel’.
Brian Abbs broke new ground
Using the communicative ideas around;
With the profits from ‘Strategies’
He bought several country cottages.
Mario Rinvolucri’s pranks
Sometimes tempt us to break ranks –
But his ideas are invariably golden,
So we’re just bound to be beholden.
Andrew Wright got into ELT as an artist
And visuals were where his heart is,
But now he’s a different sort of feller,
Having become an ELT storyteller.
(provided by David Hill)
Scott Thornbury is
Really quite a whizz;
Dogme gets rid of material
Makes interaction imperial
Is a real charmer.
In methods he’s top of the pops -
His productivity never stops.
Is not an Oxford don
But his intellectual frivolity
Has a donnish quality.
I have left out so many, I know,
But I guess that just goes to show
How fertile our field has become,
And the promise of things yet to come.
To these and other unsung pioneers,
It’s time to give three rousing cheers.
And to those whom fame will never reach:
They also serve who only stand and teach!