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A tribute to Professor Stephen Bax (1960 – 2017)


Stephen joined the Open University as professor of modern languages and linguistics in 2015 and took on the role of director for research excellence in August 2016.

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‘Devon is heaven for language students’

devon interview

In 2014, Kevin McNally decamped from London to sleepy Devon to take the helm of the Torquay International School. He tells old friend Melanie Butler how he discovered welcoming host families, surfing lessons and beautiful countryside.

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The small independent putting the fun in testing

clarity picture interviewweb

Andrew Stokes, managing director of the Hong Kong-based EFL software company ClarityEnglish, talks to Melanie Butler about testing on mobile phones, the perils of unanswered emails and high tech toasters

Clarity always strikes me as an ELT disruptor, a company started by two guys, a Tefler and a nerd, in a spare bedroom in Hong Kong. This year you went handheld – producing a placement test for mobile phones. Are you taking on the edtech giants?
No, I don’t think so. We are quite happy as a small independent publisher with the freedom to take on projects we enjoy and which we think will be useful. For example, we are currently working on an online course to help nurses in the Philippines get the 7.0 in Ielts Writing that they need to work in the UK. That’s way too small for an edtech giant.

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It all starts with dreams in English

People Mary

Claudia Civinini asks Dr Anne-Marie Connolly about her research into the positive effects on the brain of being a late bilingual and why bilingualism is a precious resource for Ireland

Your research found that the brains of those who learnt a second language later in life find it easier than early bilinguals or monolinguals to complete tasks involving switching and focusing attention. 

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‘Students have refused to be taught by me’

varinder unlu

Language school director of studies Varinder Unlu has spent her career on the receiving end of often bare-faced racism. The issue is the ‘elephant in the room’ in ELT and needs greater research, she says.

I have grown up experiencing so much racism and sexism that most of the time these days it doesn’t even occur to me to be offended when it rears its ugly head.

Take last week for example. I get a call from one of our registrars – there’s a prospective student wanting to talk to the academic director about Ielts classes.

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