About Me


Email geoffjordan@telefonica.net

Qualifications: B.Sc (Econ); M.A.TEFL (Distinction); Ph.D.


* Jordan, G. (2012) Theoretical Constructs in SLA. In Robinson, P. (ed) The Routledge Encyclopedia of SLA. London, Routledge.

* Jordan, G. (2004) Explanatory Adequacy and Theories of SLA. Applied Linguistics, 25/4, 234 to 238.

* Jordan, G. (2004) Theory Construction in SLA. Amsterdam, Benjamins.

* Johns, T., Harding, D., and Jordan, G. (1994) Microconcord. Oxford, OUP.

* Long, M.H., Gregg, K.R., Jordan, G. and Beretta, A. (2003) Rationality and its Discontents. Applied Linguistics. , 24/3, 45 -67.

I’ve also published more than 20 articles on CALL, task-based learning, concordancers, and Business English, and given more than 50 presentations at TEFL conferences.

I’ve lived in Spain since 1981. I worked at ESADE, Barcelona for 28 years, first as a language teacher and then as Director of Studies. With my boss, Pat Mills, I helped to organise and run an MA TESOL programme, run jointly by the Institute Of Education (London University) and ESADE from 1994 to 2003.

Since 2004, I’ve worked freelance, doing English immersion courses at home, working with post-doctoral students at the Universitat Politecnica de Barcelona and as an associate tutor in the Distance Learning MA in AL and TESOL pogramme at Leicester University.

My main academic interests are: theories of SLA, psycholinguistics, teaching practice and computational linguistics.

Hobbies: chess, listening to Dylan, Charlie Parker and Bach, waiting for Pynchon to write another good novel, walking in the forest with dogs and donkies, and watching my wife gardening.

Being a University Student

When I went to the LSE as an undergraduate in 1962, I was told that my tutor was Prof. De Smith, famous for writing constitutions for newly-liberated African nations which usually lasted for less than a year before the army took over. I tried to contact him by phone and internal mail, to no avail. I went to his study three times, and there was no reply. I never saw him or spoke to him in the whole of my first year as an undergraduate. When I passed my first year exams, I got a letter from Professor De Smith congratulating me on my fine results and saying that if ever I needed a reference, I shouldn’t hesitate to ask him.

When I did my first MA (in Scientific Method for the Social Sciences) at the LSE my tutor was Imre Lakatos. He told me that he wanted me to work on a paper which he was writing, which would “mend the hole” in Popper’s key Falsifiability Hypothesis by virtue of a “protective belt”. Never mind the details, but I saw him every week, often in the company of Paul Feyerabend, the author of one of the best books I’ve ever read “Against Method”, and a most remarkable, truly gifted academic. The intensity, good humour and scholarly level of those encounters marked the high water mark of anything that ever happened to me, intellectually. Lakatos had already decided that I would go on to do a doctorate, where I would develop the idea of comprehensible critical rationalism, and make amends for all the nonsense written in Popper’s “The Open Society and its Enemies”.

Before I had made any progress on my MA, I was involved in political activities (I was particularly involved with the wonderful, crazy, liberating, anarchist group The Situationists) which temporarily closed the LSE; I was named as a ringleader, and charged with criminal and civic offences which jeopardized the running of a university college. I was found innocent of the criminal charges, but chucked out of LSE, thus losing my chance to finish the MA or do a doctorate.

I had a second, more successful attempt at an MA at ESADE, in Barcelona. My boss and I (I was the DOS) decided that we would collaborate with the Institute Of Education, part of the University of London, and offer an MA in TESOL for our teachers (free) and anybody else in Spain who might be interested. Henry Widdowson headed the team, and we had courses run by Phillip Riley, David Nunan, Peter Skehan, George Yule, John Faneslow, Earl Stevick, Jack Richards, Julie Schacter, Nick Ellis, Mike Swain, Dick Schmidt, …you name them, they came to our Summer Institutes. After 2 years, I decided to do the course myself, along with my eternal teaching partner Connie O’Grady. My tutor was Widdowson and Connie’s was somebody she never had more than fleeting contact with. I had little contact with Henry, but the meetings I had helped me enormously: he had the ability to listen, and then, by a very Socratic method, gently guide me towards improvements.

Then I did a doctorate. It was nothing to do with my MA dissertation (on computational linguistics), but rather, I went back to my roots and looked at how the philosophy of science might impinge on the the development of theories of SLA. This time my tutor was Guy Cook. I did the whole damn thing practically on my own. I kept working in Barcelona, but I had 2 weeks a term at the IOE. It took me 5 years to finish.

So in all my studies, I had one good tutor. The rest I did on my own. My best help came from talking to fellow students (particularly Connie) and from the scholars themselves whose work I was reading. Mike Long was the most supportive and helpful; Kevin Gregg was the finest of critics; Peter Skehan, David Nunan, Jack Richards and lots of others rarely failed to answer my emails.

Which brings me to my advice: Do it yourself, but get support. Only you can decide what you want to concentrate on, what you want to think about, how you finally approach each task. The biggest task you face is organisation: how will you organise your thinking and your effort? And how will you organise your writing?

After that, use resources. Use the library. Use Google Scholar. Use the Discussion Boards if you’re doing a DL course (use them every time you think they might help, or just to blow off steam). Use blogs (like Scott Thornbury’s and The Secret DOS’s and Mike’s ELT Rants). Use the Linkedin forums (over 3,000 people read the EFL As a Foreign Language forum). And use the goodwill of the scholars whose books and articles you read. Write to them: you will rarely be disappointed.

Onward through the fog!

29 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Praise be! I have only just visited this site for the first time but I am glad it is here and I can feel it will be a very warm and friendly place. I especially like the article: “Doing an MA Dissertation”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Paulo,

    What stuff? CALL, task-based learning, concordancers, and Business English? Theories of SLA, psycholinguistics, teaching practice and computational linguistics? Chess, listening to music, reading, walking in the country?

    Congratulations on the silliest comment anybody has ever taken the trouble to post here.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Hi Geoff. Wow, what a wonderfully interesting and helpful site. I can’t wait to delve deeper as my MA progresses. I have a feeling that your website will be to me and others what David Crystal’s ‘The English Language’ was to your friend who was mentioned elsewhere on your website. I also enjoyed reading your bio – you’ve clearly had a very exciting and stimulating life as an academic and one(?)-time political activist!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have to second wholeheartedly what Geoff says in his last paragraph. You are basically on your own. Read, read and read, be critical, find your own voice and use colleagues to discuss and hone your arguments.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Smiling and inspired after reading your “about me” section. The connections we make to others are so powerful. Reading about your engagement in the academic world reminds me of those wonderful conversations that leave us with more questions to ask. I’m slowly discovering a life changing world of collaboration and collegiality through the work of many people and places you mention here. Thanks for creating this space!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am truly inspired by this brief ‘auto-bio’ and of course I’m warmed by your humour. Thanks for being you! 🙂


  7. Hi Geoff.

    I’ve found your website to be the best resource on doing an MA; I’ve used it for each module thus far and am turning to it again!

    I’ll soon be starting my dissertation and am really interested in Corrective Feedback. I’ve looked through the different sections you have but couldn’t find any mention there. If you have any recommendations of key texts to hunt down it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again for spending the time on this very informative blog.



  8. Hi James,

    Thanks for kind words.

    See this on Implicit Negative feedback: http://www.jstor.org/stable/329961?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
    Best, IMO, Long M. H (2007) Recasts in SLA: the story so far. It’s chapter 4 of his book Problems in SLA. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Huge number of references to follow up.
    Then there’s Ellis R. 2010. ‘Cognitive, social, and psychological dimensions of corrective feedback’ in Batstone R . (ed.). Sociocognitive Perspectives on Language Use and Language Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Not half as thorough or well-considered, but some good references.


  9. Mr. Jordan. Where were you born? I quoted you on my project and I am supposed to provide your nationality. Your work is pretty interesting, by the way.


  10. Hi Geoff,
    I place my comment in this corner here. Have you considered allowing an “ask question” feature on your blog? I think there are many interesting issues raised, and it would be nice if readers could post questions of their own. I think this would also be in your spirit of empowering students.

    Have a productive 2017. Maybe less Harmer… and more SLA / doing an MA/PhD / Resources / Post-modern vrs Modern debate, etc 🙂



    1. Hi Thom,

      I use the free version of Word Press and so can’t add the plug-in that allows a Q&A feature.

      Thanks for the good wishes and good advice. I hope you have a productive 2017 too.



    1. Hi Richard,

      I’ve never mixed my love of Pynchon’s early work with ELT. Pynchon’s V remains for me the best novel I’ve ever read. Gravity’s Rainbow is magnificent, but horribly disappointing. After that, worse and worse.


      1. Hi Richard,

        I have the first edition of Against The day in front of me. I loved the first few pages, struggled to get to page 100, and gave up. Lots of sparkle and fun, but I think the extraordinary cast need organising around a better semblance of a plot.


  11. Hi Robert,

    I’m afraid I couldn’t even recognise most of the plots – including that of the main villain. There are, of course, great passages – some of them more than a page long! – but they just don’t join up enough for me. Still, there’ll always be those first 3 great novels, plus Vineland and Slow Learner, of course. .


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