Six Influential People in ELT today

For those of you who have been following this blog over the past six months you will no doubt have come across references to my (in)famous poll. I asked who the most influential people in ELT today are. To make it easier I included a shortlist of names, while adding an ‘Other’ category for people to add their own names.

Shortly after announcing my poll on Twitter, there was an almighty uproar. Some people felt that it was “shameful” that I had missed out the influential voices in the technology crowd. Others said they could have thought of “hundreds of names”. Then it was pointed out that I could have organised it differently and more democratically. There weren’t enough women, or minorities represented. Some said that I had chosen “weird” names. I feebly said that whoever I had missed out could be rectified by completing the “Other” field on the poll but it was too late. I wanted to undo the whole thing but I couldn’t!

On reflection, it was everything one could have hoped for in an internet poll. Controversial, provocative and essentially meaningless. But the votes  have trickled in all summer (and I really do mean trickle, there were only just under 200 votes!) and several people have asked me who was voted for. I am now finally ready to realease the results.

Without further ado I proudly present the six most influential people* in ELT today according to my influential poll

6. Scrivener, Jim – author of Learning Teaching, a very popular pre-service text for English teachers. Ex-Guardian Weekly columnist of teacher’s tips, and current head of teacher development at Bell Schools.

5. Carter, Ron & McCarthy, Michael – authors of the new Cambridge Grammar of English, with a focus on spoken English. Very influential in the world of corpus study and language teaching.

4. Harmer, Jeremy – author of the Practice of English Language, a key text for in-service teacher education courses and popular keynote speaker at conferences around the world.

3. Rinvolucri, Mario – author of classics such as Grammar Games and Dictation. Key teacher trainer at Pilgrims and frequent speaker at international conferences.

2. Ur, Penny – author of several classic books for teachers, notably Grammar Practice Activities, Discussions that Work and Five Minute Activities. Has also written popular textbooks for language teaching courses. Frequent speaker at international conferences.

And the number one spot goes to…

1.Thornbury, Scott! – author of About Language, Uncovering Grammar, An A to Z of ELT and numerous other books. Co-founder of the Dogme movement in ELT and current series editor for the Cambridge Handbooks. Very popular speaker at conferences and general all-round nice guy!

Actually, the number one spot goes to ‘Other’. A whopping 45% of the votes went to other names that I had left off my list. There were the saboteurs who put in names like Kermit the Frog, Billy  Bunter, Boris Johnson and Obama. Other names mentioned included Gavin Dudeney (you see Gavin there were some technology people mentioned!), Alex Case, Michael Lewis, Alistair Pennycook, Jane Arnold, Raymond Murphy, David Crystal and Paul Seligson. Some kind souls even mentioned Lindsay Clandfield.

But the real winner of the ‘Other’ category was none other than Sandy McManus (spelled in a variety of ways), the TEFL Tradesman himself! Sandy’s fans must truly be legion, as they doggedly entered his name over and over again – some from the same IP address which means I assume they were mates sharing a computer right?

I leave it to all of you now to heap praise, scorn, vitriol or whatever you like on the results and my methodology. Comments are open!

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Published in: on September 14, 2009 at 11:03 am  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Obviously, I think, everyone is too afraid of joining the wrath of the VIPs by commenting… LOL.

    Lindsay, you really should be included in the list 😉 is that sychofantic? (ph, I know).. and even worse… I’m very glad my favorite made it to the favorite.

    And as for Sandy joining the ranks – he deserves that.

    K

  2. I definitely think Sandy should join the ranks. He tends to post some truly unique stuff and brings a different voice to the chorus.

    I also like what Scott contributes to the community. Granted I only know him from Twitter, but he engages in the conversation.

    Great list of people to keep an eye out for.

    Neal

  3. Great list – of course it could never satisfy everyone.

    For me, Scrivener’s Learning Teaching is simply the best book that you can give to a new teacher – it’s just great, accessible, practical.

    I am also really happy to see Michael McCarthy on there as both “Vocabulary” and “Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers” are books that I keep going back to and reading bits from again and again. And also because Scott Thornbury is somewhat indedbted to Michael McCarthy in the sense that some of his work draws on or expands earlier work by McCarthy.

    Also, it’s great to have Six Things back!

    • Thanks for the comments so far everyone. Kind of curious that Sandy himself hasn’t come and commented here yet, maybe he is celebrating his influence… Thanks Arthur for the welcome back and yes I also believe that Learning teaching is a great book.

  4. What the feck! I demand a recount – I should’ve been the overall winner, I reckon! Who is this ‘Scott Thornbelly’, anyway?

  5. Hm, I smell a rat here here – I demand a recount! Surely I should be properly recognised for the troop-leading layabout I truly am?!

    • LOL Well Sandy I let the comments above speak for themselves! And yes I did give credit where credit was due… you were the winner of the Other category – far outstripping any other name including yours truly.

  6. I sense the beginning of a Thornbury backlash, particularly from those who’ve seen him doing conference presentations recently.

    I’d vote for Keith Folse: if you haven’t read ‘Vocabulary Myths’, do so. It will change the way you teach.


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