Home. Personal. Research Methodology. Adult L1 Acquisition. Delightfully Provocative. ESP/TEFL. Linguistics. Pronunciation. Humour. Computing. Contact. Reviews.

Welcome to this site devoted to English for Specific Purposes - Not Extra Sensory Perception. If you came here for the paranormal you will be disappointed. I am a linguist and a former science teacher. I work in Tunisia, a country with Arabic, French and English. My focus is on English teaching to scientists, but I lecture on a wide range of subjects. This gives me a broader than usual perspective.

Take a look at some of the provocations - they are deliberately humorous. All are meant to stimulate debate.

This is a rare site to have articles on Adult First Language Acquisition.

Learning a first language does not stop as a child. Many adults extend their language into new domains. And this is not just those studying for degrees: it can be a hobby or a new area of interest. Why has this not been fully studied?


Recent major changes

23 January 2017 Version 2.1. Improved second edition of Statistics beyond the absolute basics

The book begins with extensive coverage of web sources for further information and FREE statistics programs. It then expands the basics: describing data, the family of tests which compares groups, and the family which deals with correlations.  Choosing a test then becomes easy. Traditional concepts concerning significance are evaluated and the new statistics is presented such as Power, Effect Size, and Confidence Intervals.

Read more      Contents  The book      

Minor corrections. Full Version 1.1 published 22 July 2016

A first textbook of research methodology and thesis writeup for second language English speakers

This book is unique. It is written as a FIRST book for Second Language Speakers, and is easy while being thorough. It has also been through extensive User Review, which is far more effective than peer review for a textbook. Suitable for anyone writing a thesis in Science or the Social Sciences and linguistics, especially if English is not your native language. Read more

Minor annual corrections, especially to the chapters on computing.

Full Version 1.1 published 22 July 2016

A feel for statistics: Essential concepts underlying the calculations

Version 1.1. There are now two new keys and major revisions of the last keys.

Key 6: Carefully choose your sample

Key 16: Manage the problem of size

The advice on the visual presentation of data has been greatly improved, including a clear explanation why ‘pie’ charts should be avoided.

This book is also unique – most beginner books on statistics are too difficult, and this book fills the gap between ordinary students and so called ‘basic’ statistics books. The material is presented as 18 Keys.  Beginning with definitions, kinds of average, samples, and variables, the book goes on to consider the rare subject of Controls is mentioned in detail, and this difficult concept is explained in several easy parts.

Revised: Criteria for evaluating Masters and Doctoral theses. Uploaded 07 May 2013

The revisions take into account the new Masters system.

Updated October 2013: Student expectations of supervisors ie what a supervisor expects from a student being supervised for their Masters thesis.


The sections

The Personal section contains a brief introduction to myself, with some photos.

Research Methodology

This contains three free textbooks.

        My research students will also find relevant documents here.

Adult First Language acquisition

So far as I know, this field has never been adequately described or researched. Therefore, in the spirit of ‘exploratory research’ I present an autobiographical case-study focusing on how I as a monolingual adult learned the language of medicine. This is followed by an analysis of the data, and the key challenge: why has First Language acquisition research stopped at the teenage years? Why is it not linked with studies of First Language attrition or loss? What should the field of Adult First Language Acquisition consist of?

Delightfully Provocative

Setting the question of Adult L1 acquisition within the plurilingualism of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) I challenge the field of ESP to compare like with like, to compare Adult learners of technical language in their first language with Adult learners in their Second language.

Adding to the complexity, I also ask why have Applied Linguists largely ignored the reality of diglossia - the co-existence of a High form of a language (Classical), which is more formal and has to be learned at school, with the low forms, or dialects. Sometimes this Classical form is as difficult as learning a Foreign language. ESP is far more complicated than teaching English to those who have mastered one language which does not have much diglossia. I also argue that the Common European Framework of Reference can be extended to describe and score diglossia.

UCAS discriminates against multilinguals. Anyone applying to study as an Undergraduate in a British University has to apply through a centralised system called UCAS. The application form completely lacks a question about languages learned. Effectively it therefore discriminates against immigrants and other multilinguals. In another provocation I provide some practical original solutions to the low level of Foreign Language learning in Britain.

Why I think examinations are often fairer than coursework, and two critiques of Social Constructivism are also included.


Every language teacher should be able to explain the sounds of the language they teach. They should know exactly how each sound is produced, how to explain it simply, and how to compare with another language. The result should be simple steps, starting with the known language and through often small changes, to make the sounds of the new language. This is illustrated through Arabic and French for English speakers. The method used also provides a new way of teaching and testing phonetics.

English for Specific Purposes/TEFL

Here you will find a selection of articles based on my MA course and on my own research. Beginning with the gap between Arts and Sciences I present the common ground. One area is the history of Science, which is outlined. The nature of the language of science, the problem of ambiguous linguistic terminology, and the relationship between language and the nature of science are discussed. I present a summary of my own research testing the theory that the language of science is international, especially  non-verbals such as symbols.


There is a lot of humour in linguistics, and in ESP. Here you will find some of my favourites.


Here are my favourite programs, a commentary on making an academic website, my current wish list for features and programs that are badly needed in the academic world, and some tips and tricks for organising the masses of data and lesson material that an academic accumulates.


         General articles on TEFL and working in education.

        A study of different methods of double correction. The role of the teacher. Classroom management tips. Testing the easy way. The use of the Mother tongue in the second language classroom.

Reviews - articles and textbooks        

Including a Detailed review of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 2009.