About Ken

Ken plenary

The story so far…

I’m a teacher trainer, an author of ELT materials and until 2002, I was artistic director of the English Teaching Theatre. I’m the editor-in-chief of a Vietnamese primary course, a co-production between Macmillan Hong Kong and Vietnam Educational Publishing House, Hanoi.  

In 2016, I completed a Masters in Creative Writing at Birkbeck College London, and I’m now in the middle of writing my first novel.

But my working life has always centred around English language teaching and training. 

I trained to be an English teacher with John and Brita Haycraft at International House London and taught English in Seville before moving back to IH London, where I worked as a teacher and teacher trainer before going freelance when I was about 30. In the 1970s, I wrote and recorded Mister Monday, the first-ever collection of ELT songs. Since then I’ve written and recorded about 150 language teaching songs.

I also wrote 100 radio and TV programmes for BBC English, including 50 radio scripts for the Follow Me series and 30 TV scripts for the Look Ahead series.  For a while, I worked for the Spanish and Latin American services of BBC World Service, reporting in Spanish on music events in Britain.

I worked as a performer, sketch-writer and eventually director with the English Teaching Theatre, a theatre company which used to tour the world performing stage-shows for learners of English. The company made more than 250 tours to 55 countries, in Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Far East.

With co-director Doug Case, I wrote about a hundred sketches and almost as many songs for the group. Many of the sketches were published in two Macmillan books, English Sketches 1 and 2. Those of you with longer memories may recall that most of the sketches first appeared in books entitled Off-Stage! and Further Off-Stage!

I now mainly write course material. The main ones are the following:

>  Smart Choice (Oxford University Press, now in its third edition; third edition co-authored with Thomas )

>   Achievers with Jane Revell and Leanne Grey (Richmond) 

> Just Right Advanced with Jeremy Harmer, Carol Lethaby and Ana Acevedo, for Cengage

> Quick Smart English with Mary Tomalin, for Brookmead Publications

> Matura Masters with Marta Rosińska, for Macmillan Poland

In 2008, OUP also published Drama and Improvisation, a compilation of about 75 of my drama activities.

I attend a lot of ELT conferences and usually give workshops on using music and drama.

My wife Dede is a freelance teacher trainer and we occasionally give drama courses together. For ten years, we ran an international course for teachers from many different countries. The course was called Drama Plus and took place in Hungary. Teachers from thirty countries attended this course.

With Dede, doing the ETT Language School sketch at IATEFL 2005 in Cardiff.

In the summer, we spend some time on Prince Edward Island, Canada, which is where Dede’s mom and brother live. These photos were taken on Rustico Beach, about three kilometres from the house.

1017555_10151739718014002_1238727333_nRustico Harbour beach