Michael Clarke obituary

Other lives: Teacher of English as a foreign language who worked at the Universities of Nottingham and East Anglia

My friend and ex-husband Michael Clarke, who has died aged 74, was an expert in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages. He not only taught for many years but became involved in teacher training and also helped to devise various courses at home and abroad.

Mike was born in Liverpool, to Eileen (nee Sinker), a barmaid, and Mike, a bricklayer, and had two younger sisters, Elaine and Jan. He attended St Francis Xavier’s Jesuit college – where his love of languages, hillwalking and football began – and went on to Westfield College (now Queen Mary University of London) in east London, graduating with a degree in classics in 1969.

After toying with teaching classics he decided that teaching English to speakers of other languages was a better option, and went on to work in Italy, Bradford and Kuwait. After gaining an MA in applied linguistics from Leeds University in 1977, he took up a post at the University of Leicester School of Education in 1980, developing an English language teacher training programme for Saudi students and teaching on MA and MEd programmes for language teachers.

He subsequently worked on similar programmes at the University of East Anglia and the University of Nottingham, and at both institutions also took part in the development of English language courses in other countries, including Algeria, Swaziland, Malaysia, Brunei and Hong Kong, often teaching on them too. He took a particular interest in, and wrote articles on, the subject of cultural imperialism in English language teaching.

After taking early retirement on grounds of ill health in 1999, Mike travelled widely, including to India, Greece and Italy, and managed to complete the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage walk in Spain.

Mike was a captivating and intelligent companion with a sharp wit and a great knowledge of literature, music, religion, politics – and football. No one was ever bored in his company.

In his later years he became a much-valued friend and neighbour to many people in Leicester, helping others in any way he could. He was also a devoted father and grandfather who loved to share his interests with his offspring.

He and I were married in 1969 and divorced in 2000, but remained friends. He is survived by our three children, Harriet, Adam and Rachel, four grandchildren, Amelie, Naomi, Kye and Isobel, and his sister Jan.

Jane Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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