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Barry Jones

Barry JonesBarry Jones, who died in April 2015, was an inspirational and innovative language teacher educator who was passionate about languages and language teaching. As principal lecturer and Head of Modern Languages at Homerton College and subsequently Senior Lecturer in Education in the Faculty of Education, he is remembered with genuine affection and gratitude by the people he taught and the colleagues he worked alongside. 

Having begun his career as a secondary school teacher of French and German, Barry moved into higher education, where he quickly developed a very strong reputation within the language teaching community nationally and internationally. Through his service on numerous national committees and advisory bodies overseeing foreign language teaching policy, as well as through his extensive work with CILT (the National Centre for Languages) and with the Association for Language Learning, Barry influenced the policy and practice of language teacher education in the UK and beyond over several decades. Barry was also involved with the Council of Europe where he developed a competence model for Modern Language student teachers, the European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages (EPOSTL), which is in use in 17 European countries, as well as in Egypt and Japan. 

Communicative and creative approaches to language learning were central to Barry’s approach, and from the hub of the Comenius Centre he developed exciting and innovative projects such as exploring cross-cultural awareness by swapping artefacts between classes in the UK and France. Barry’s publications numbered over 100 titles, including both academic and practical guidance on topics such as teaching in the target language or raising boys’ motivation for language learning. He was also a very effective and highly entertaining public speaker and gave a popular annual lecture in the department of Modern and Medieval Languages to undergraduate students who were preparing for their year abroad as English language assistants. Many of them would also go on to train as teachers in the Faculty.

Barry was pivotal in the design of the Modern Languages PGCE in its current form, forging close bonds between trainees, practising teachers and other teacher educators. Innovation, creativity and humour characterised his work with young teachers; he lived his role, showing rather than telling them how to be a motivational teacher. The hundreds of students he taught over the years will recall the ab initio instruction in Mandarin Chinese or Aztec that reminded them of experience of learning a foreign language from scratch. His materials were always impeccably prepared and colour-coded, and the activities fun to do. Barry was exceptionally generous in the time and support he gave to young teachers and always saw the best in them.

His contribution to the teaching of the French language and culture was recognised by the French government when in 1996 he was awarded the prestigious Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques .

Despite being diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013, Barry carried on working, running workshops and giving presentations based on EPOSTL in Europe and Japan, travelling to conferences and  writing, all the while remaining irrepressibly cheerful.

We’ll remember the cards Barry wrote in his beautiful calligraphy, his pootling around the local area in his Riley, his love of France and its wine and food, and the happiness he so clearly shared with his wife Gwenneth, sons and grandson.  

Merci mille fois, Barry. Tu nous manqueras.

Linda Fisher, University Senior Lecturer in Education (MFL), Secondary PGCE Course Manager.