Michael Swan

English language teaching and applied linguistics

After studying Modern Languages at Oxford University, I worked in English language teaching for around twenty years. I co-founded and directed the Swan School of English in Oxford, and later worked in adult education in Paris. During that period I began writing and publishing English language teaching and reference materials, and this became my main occupation. For some years, I was also the Series Editor for Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers.

My more academic interests include descriptive and theoretical grammar, mother-tongue influence in second-language acquisition, and the relationship between applied linguistic theory and language-teaching practice. I have published a number of articles on these topics, and have given lectures and workshops in many countries.

Despite all this, I feel bound to confess that, as I drifted into English language teaching and applied linguistics with no professional training in these areas, I have no qualifications whatever for the work that I do. If I applied to myself for a job as a research assistant, I would have to turn myself down.

↠ Books
Some things I believe


I write and publish poetry, perhaps as a desperate attempt to prove that even grammarians have souls.


Good, sometimes
to go outside
and walk round yourself
looking in the windows.

There are lights blazing
in rooms you have never seen;
strangers dancing,
things going on
you can scarcely credit.

don’t stay out too long.
They might change the locks.

↠ See more of my poetry

All content © Michael Swan & Site by Richard Rowley