Dave Willis – Commemorative #ELTchat on October 30, 2103

A PLN for ELT Professionals

Dave Willis – Commemorative #ELTchat on October 30, 2103

In honour of Dave Willis>>>>>>>>>

An #ELTchat on  Task Based Learning, Lexical Syllabuses, the Lexical Approach 


Image source: www.willis-elt.co.u

The news of Dave Willis’ passing away hit the ELT community yesterday via messages received from IATEFL and from friends on Facebook and Twitter


More and more people kept posting and sharing their thoughts about Dave Willis’ major impact on ELT, Applied Linguistics, the way we view language and language syllabuses, or the methods we use for language teaching


Leo Selivan,  @lexicaleo on Twitter, shared one of the first of many blog posts which we think will be written about Dave Willis and his work.  In his post with the title   We are lexically indebted to him, Leo begins with an important comment about Dave Willis’ contribution to applied linguistics:


For most in the ELT world Dave Willis’s name is associated with Task-Based Learning. But his contribution to lexical approaches to language teaching is just as outstanding. In fact, his pioneering work on the first Lexical Syllabus predates Michael Lewis’s seminal book by three years, the main difference between the two being words as a starting point for Willis and collocations for Lewis.


Here are just a few of the Facebook updates















But it soon became obvious to many of us that there were a lot of colleagues who did not know who he was, what a lexical syllabus is, what TBL stands for and how it changed our views about how to stage and sequence language lessons.

There is no Wikipedia Entry on Dave Willis – perhaps some #ELTchatters can redress this omission!! – and almost nothing about him in the social media. I was able to find only a short interview taken not long ago at a conference in Turkey which you can watch below.


To those who had the chance to meet him in person, the feelings of sadness and loss were even more apparent.

Commemorative #ELTchat on October 30, 2103

The idea for a  commemorative #ELTchat to recall the work and impact of Dave Willis  came to quite a few – Martin Sketchley posted it first


…then many others messaged and DMed us on Twitter

So here it is – our Wednesday #ELTchats will be dedicated to two major areas of impact in his work – Task Based Learning and the Lexical Approach/Lexical Syllabuses

Before #ELTchat, you might want to read Leo’s post as well some of the other posts on his blog,

#ELTchat times

12.00 and 21.00 GMT+2  (remember to change your clocks!!!)



Willis-ELT: Jane Willis and Dave Willis – the website maintained by Jane and Dave Willins

from Wikipedia

Task Based Language Learning 

The Lexical Approach 

from Onestopenglish

Task Based Learning

From Teaching English 

Series of short articles by Jane Willis on TBL 

N.B. If you know of any other useful links to online aricles, posts or resources, please add in the comments and we will add them to this post



2 Responses

  1. mura nava says:


    sad news indeed; throwing out here a very simple web based lexical motion tribute to dave willis, for some reason only working in firefox latest browser


  2. Sian Morgan says:

    I moved to the US in August and I have only just heard about about Dave’s passing. He was for me, as for many others in the ELT world, a major influence in my thinking about teaching and I always enjoyed hearing his intelligent IATEFL talks and often quote him to my colleagues here in New York I am very saddened by this news – the ELT community has lost one of its great thinkers. My sincere condolences to Jane and the family.

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