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Famous TEFL Figures

While the ability to teach English overseas has encouraged an explosive industry in the wake of internet advancements such as Skype, Zoom and other virtual conference apps, the way has long been paved by influential individuals who innovated the educational field of Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Do you know these names?

Stephen Krashen

Stephen Krashen (born 1941) is professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, who moved from the linguistics department to the faculty of the School of Education in 1994. He is a linguist, educational researcher, and political activist.

- Wikipedia

Noam Chomsky

Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian,[b][c] social critic, and political activist. Sometimes called "the father of modern linguistics", Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He holds a joint appointment as Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Laureate Professor at the University of Arizona, and is the author of more than 100 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism.

- Wikipedia

Michael Swan

Michael Swan is a writer of English language teaching and reference materials. He graduated from University of Oxford with a bachelor´s degree in modern foreign languages and has later gone for a postgraduate research degree. He is the founder of Swan School of English.

- Wikipedia

Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone (writer/director of Scarface) - Taught English for six moths at the Free Pacific Institute in South Vietnam.

Many of Stone's films focus on controversial American political issues during the late 20th century, and as such were considered contentious at the times of their releases. They often combine different camera and film formats within a single scene.

- Wikipedia

Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby (author of High Fidelity) - Taught TEFL in London

Hornby's work frequently touches upon music, sport, and the aimless and obsessive natures of his protagonists. His books have sold more than 5 million copies worldwide as of 2018. In a 2004 poll for the BBC, Hornby was named the 29th most influential person in British culture.

- Wikipedia

What did you think of their works and curriculum? Who inspired YOU the most in the TEFL world? Is someone missing from this list? Send us your suggestions for a spotlight at


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