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Lawrence Faucett's life and career

Lawrence William Faucett (1892–1978) was – with Harold E. Palmer and Michael West – one of the three most innovative and prolific writers in the developing English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching field during the 1920s and 1930s. He came to prominence as author of The Teaching of English in the Far East (1927), and further established his reputation as writer of the first UK-published ‘general’ EFL course package, the Oxford English Course (1933). He also pioneered the first yearlong EFL teacher training course in the UK, at the University of London Institute of Education, in 1935–6. In 1936, however, he suffered a serious illness, and largely withdrew from the world of English as a foreign language teaching. As a consequence, his contribution to the establishment of ELT has tended to be less widely recognized than that of Palmer and West, and the details of his life and career have been shrouded in mystery.

Born on 12 April 1892 in Quincy, Illinois, Lawrence Faucett was the elder son of an electrical engineer, Isaac Lincoln Faucett and a devoted Episcopalian, Louisa Denman Faucett [née Noakes]. The family moved several times, to Fort Worth, to Kansas and to St. Louis, before settling, at the turn of the century, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Lawrence Faucett spent his teenage years there and attended the University of Chattanooga. His mother and father were both active in the local Episcopalian church, and he was himself active as a ‘camp counselor’ and leader of YMCA activities. In 1915 he gained a Bachelor’s degree in Divinity from the University of the South, Tennessee, and in 1916 was ordained as an Episcopalian minister.


Photograph in the Warwick ELT Archive collection, donated by Frances Stacey

In the meantime Faucett had applied for and been awarded a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford for the period 1917–19. Although he travelled to the UK he was unable to begin his studies immediately – when the USA entered the war on 6 April 1917 he entered the British services rather than return home to enlist. On 18 July 1918 he married an Englishwoman, Mariel Grace Margaret Barr, and following Armistice Day returned to Oxford to begin his studies. He carried out research in comparative philology, coming into contact with Joseph Wright (1855–1930; compiler of the famous English Dialect Dictionary) and William A. Craigie (1867–1957; well-known at the time as one of the editors of the New (later, Oxford) English Dictionary). Eventually Faucett was awarded his Oxford MA, after returning to the University of the South in 1921 to become an assistant professor of English. 

In the following year, 1922, Faucett travelled to China for the Board of Missions, Protestant Episcopal Church, starting work as an assistant professor of English at an Episcopalian institution, St. John’s University, in Shanghai.


From the Warwick ELT Archive collection (photocopy of photograph loaned by Frances Stacey)

While devoting himself to Chinese language studies, he soon became intensively involved in English teaching, materials writing and research into English teaching, as shown by the list of publications on p. 88 of The Teaching of English in the Far East (Faucett 1927a). Faucett was, basically, an advocate of ‘Direct’ principles of teaching, and his daughter recalls how ‘His direct method of teaching English used many visual aids, and flashcards and could be taught without the teacher using Chinese’. Unlike Palmer, however, Faucett foresaw difficulties for relatively untrained teachers in using the IPA alphabet (see Faucett 1927, chapter 4). Instead, for addressing pronunciation and spelling problems in English, he was a committed advocate of a system of pronunciation-marks which had been devised by William Craigie, Professor of Scandinavian Languages at Oxford. Craigie had first expounded this system in a 1917 publication, Pronunciation of English, and had provided materials demonstrating its use in English Reading Made Easy (1922). It seems that on arriving in China Faucett introduced the system into his own teaching from the start. He then began to advocate it further in a number of publications issued by the Commercial Press, Shanghai, starting with his own Practical Pronunciation Helps (1924) and a 19-page pamphlet explaining the system (1925). These were followed by a Chinese adaptation of Craigie’s 1922 text (Faucett and Tao 1925–6), and several classroom texts (‘readers’) for primary and middle schools by Chinese authors, whose production Faucett seems to have overseen (San 1925, 1926; Hu and Hargrove 1925). As the list of publications on pp. 88–9 in The Teaching of English in the Far East makes clear, Faucett’s advocacy of the Craigie system was also taken up by fellow missionary teachers of English in and around Shanghai. At this time, Faucett also gained experience in ‘making a set of records composed of English lessons especially written for Oriental students’ (Faucett 1927a: iii; cf. Hu and Faucett 1926). He was additionally involved in ‘preparing a series of four readers [Faucett 1927?b], a dictionary [Faucett and K’ang 1927?], a grammar, and several minor works on pronunciation [Faucett 1924, 1927?c] for use in the Far East’ (Faucett 1927b: iv). Most of these latter works are described as ‘in press’ (for the Commercial Press, Shanghai) in the list of publications on pp. 88–9 of The Teaching of English in the Far East. Whether or not all of them were in fact published at this time, they seem to have constituted prototypes for later works published in Japan and the UK. In particular, the four Living English Readers indicated here (1927?b) – which were published, though at an uncertain date – were clearly an early model both for the Oxford English Course (1933) and another series published in 1935 or 1936 in China, The Step by Step Readers. Both of these series were to be divided into four stages along comparable lines.

By 1925, Faucett had become convinced that his main avenue of influence in China should be through language teaching, language study and textbook-writing, rather than more obvious missionary activities. In July 1925 he tendered his resignation to the Episcopalian Mission, stating that during the subsequent two years he was planning to study in America and England to fit him for an extension of the work he had begun in English teaching, and for future research work in Chinese. Recognizing that he could not expect this period of leave to be funded by the Mission, he hoped nevertheless that on his return to China he would still be able to cooperate unofficially in its work. The tide of feeling against foreign influence was rising at this time in China, with particular resentment being directed against Christian missionaries. Faucett seems to have hoped for influence in government schools, but for this he would need to be seen to be independent of the church.

Following a brief period at home in Chattanooga he probably took up residence in Chicago in January 1926. Sir William Craigie was based at the University of Chicago from the mid-twenties onwards (Willinsky 1994: 49), and it was partly with his advice and support that Faucett gained a Ph.D. there in 1926, for a dissertation on ‘The revision of scientific language principles for oriental application in the teaching of English’. In the preface to The Teaching of English in the Far East (1927), the published version of his PhD dissertation, he claims to have devoted a year overall (that is, the whole of 1926) to ‘the general question of revising scientific language principles for Oriental application’ (Faucett 1927: iv). His collaboration with Craigie at this time extended also to the publication of a jointly authored reader for beginning levels (Craigie and Faucett 1927).

Faucett does not appear to have gone on to England for further studies as originally planned. Instead, having gained an appointment at Yenching University, Beijing – another American-established missionary college – he travelled back to China in 1927 by way of the Philippines and India. As he reported later:

After the World Book Company had completed the printing of my thesis [. . .] it was my desire to make a personal study of methods being used for teaching English in Asia. At that time the World Book Company published the approved series of readers for the Philippine Islands. At their request I prepared a manuscript for a printed picture book of illustrations for the first six weeks of English. They financed a trip for me to go to Baguio and teach a beginning class of Igorotes, using the illustrations in accord with a printed teacher’s manual, providing questions, commands, and graded language for the teacher. I conducted this class mornings and afternoons for six weeks, completing preparation of the adopted beginning reader.

This was probably the genesis of the Picture Dictionary (Faucett 1933c) which was later intended to form the basis for the first two weeks of instruction in the Oxford English Course. Faucett further reported:

It was on my journey back to China, via the Philippine Islands experiment, that I took the opportunity to arrange lectures and discussions with teacher training professors in Ceylon, Madras, Bombay, and Dacca. My main purpose was to meet Professor Michael West in Dacca and discuss with him how he prepared his excellent New Method Readers, published by Longmans, Green and Co. of London. Michael West was the one who specialized in easy supplementary readers to go with his texts.

Thus, the Supplementary Readers which were to accompany the Oxford English Course (Faucett, L. and Faucett, M.G.M. 1933–6) seem to have derived considerable inspiration from West’s earlier work.

As associate professor of English at Yenching University between 1927 and 1930, Faucett trained teachers of English, coordinated a study of typical errors by the staff of the English department, and taught a beginning class five times a week in a village near Yenching. He also taught part-time in the Mens’ and Womens’ Normal Schools in Peking, training students in English teaching methods. During this time he additionally prepared a series of Step by Step readers, with Dr. Fong Sec as co-author. Sec was the Chief Editor of the Shanghai Commercial Press which ultimately published the books (in 1935 or 1936), and they are said to have continued in use for many years. Three publications he issued during this time were a Composition Correction Dictionary (1929a), an English Composition Guide (1929b) and an ‘Experimental edition’ for the projected series of Step by Step Readers (1929c). These were published by the ‘Yenching Institute for Research in English Teaching’. This seems to have been set up by Faucett himself, clearly borrowing the name of the Institute established by Palmer in Tokyo in 1923, of whose existence and work he had become aware during his first period in China (1922–25).

Relations with the Tokyo Institute became much closer when Faucett moved with his family to Japan in spring 1930, exchanging posts for a year with J.V. Martin, associate professor of English at Aoyama Gakuin, a Christian university in Tokyo. As Faucett later recalled, ‘The association with Palmer was very intimate during this one year, as I was a firm believer in his oral method of teaching beginning English’. Faucett’s own reputation had preceded him, and he was unanimously elected a member of IRET’s Board of Administration following his arrival (Anon. 1930b: 8). At Aoyama Gakuin, Faucett taught a beginning class, ‘using no Japanese whatsoever’, and was thus able to continue his studies of problems in beginning speech and reading. He also taught a third-year class which enabled him to make a special study of typical errors in reading and composition. During the year, he cooperated fruitfully in a study of typical errors with Thomas Fawcett, Kin Watanabe and Itsu Maki, all of whom were teaching in Tokyo. Faucett found this collaborative work useful as a basis for adapting his (1929) English Composition Guide. Very soon he gained ‘Palmer’s special approval’ for the publication by IRET of a new textbook, English Composition Made Easy (1930), which was reviewed favourably in December by A.S. Hornby (1898–1978) (Hornby 1930). It is tempting to speculate that Faucett’s emphasis on the importance of guided writing partly inspired Hornby’s own efforts to offer ‘Direct Method’ (i.e. non-translation) composition exercises in one of his earliest publications, Fundamental Exercises in English Composition (Hornby 1932). Hornby was particularly taken with the way, in his 1930 book, Faucett builds up from oral and written question and answer work to guided short essays. Indeed, the book was advertised as offering ‘a combination of composition and conversation lessons’, as well as ‘presenting to students the form of English language in a systematic manner’ (Anon., 1930a). Here Faucett’s emphasis on a balance between and integration of different skills is clear, as is his concern for a systematic treatment of grammar. Both were to be characteristic of the Oxford English Course.

Reports of two lectures Faucett gave in Japan provide further insights into the major lines of his methodological thinking at the time. The first of these lectures was at IRET’s Seventh Annual Convention, in October 1930. His main aim, according to the anonymous reporter (Anon. 1930b: 5), was to report on his successful attempts to encourage silent reading in China. His views on the needs for reform in Japan – based on prior experience in China – chimed in well with existing Institute priorities. His suggestions centred on the necessity of determining vocabulary for different stages of learning, incorporating graded vocabularies in reading books via text simplification, developing tests for all four language skills and engaging in further empirical research. At the same Convention, Harold Palmer (1930: i) acknowledged the insights Faucett had already provided in relation to IRET research into vocabulary limitation. The following extract from a report of another lecture given by Faucett, in February 1931, shows that in the latter area he was enthusiastic about the possibilities of objective word counts. At the same time (and this is why it is quoted here at length), this report provides a rare insight into Faucett’s more ‘human’ qualities as a persuasive and authoritative teacher trainer:

With charts and devices of his own invention Dr. Faucett showed how language teaching could be combined with interest and amusement [. . .].

His statistics, compiled after long and painstaking work, were of particular help to the audience, while his incursions into the field of child psychology were such as to throw quite a new light on a subject in which the child is all too often overlooked in the desire of the language-teacher to secure results. Dr. Faucett showed that it is only by a right approach to the subject, through the study of the child-mind, that the best and quickest results can be obtained. What was especially striking, perhaps, about his method was the diversity of practical devices at his command [. . .]. Here many of us were obliged to sit up and take notice [. . .]. With Dr. Faucett’s methods it is impossible to conceive of any student, good, bad or indifferent, being neglected, and what is more, it provides every student with the right kind of opportunity that suits his peculiar needs. Here surely is an ideal for every language teacher. Dr. Faucett, by his lecture, issued a challenge, and like a good sermon it left his audience asking ‘what can we do about it?’[.]

(T[homas] 1931: 8–9)

Faucett, at this time, was heavily preoccupied with determining, on as objective a basis as possible, word-lists for different stages of instruction. He collaborated in this area with a colleague in Tokyo, Itsu Maki, and the results of their efforts, published in 1932, were later to be one of the main foundations for the 1936 ‘Carnegie Report’ (Faucett et al. 1936). This research was soon to be applied in Faucett’s (1933) Oxford English Course, with its division into four stages according to vocabulary radii of 500 words each. Other research carried out at this time in Japan was to have a similarly direct effect on the Oxford English Course:

The first 1500 words of this [Faucett and Maki 1932] list, arranged in graded levels of 100 words were later used for 15 Supplementary Readers, in which Professors Maki and [Kin] Watanabe did much to help. [. . .] I made a study of various readers in Japan, finding out just what subjects were most popular and helpful. The Sanseido Co., Ltd., became interested in publishing a series based on this research, and it was also fundamentally the plan that was used in later years by the Oxford University Press [i.e. in the (Faucett, L. and Faucett, M.G.M. 1933–5) Supplementary Readers (later, English Rapid Readers) associated with the (1933) Oxford English Course)].

Another publication in Japan based on his work with research colleagues there during 1930–1 was a Complete Pocket Guide to Standard English (Faucett, Maki and Fawcett, 1933). It is clear that Faucett, while broadly sympathetic to IRET aims and willing to both help and learn from Palmer, had remained committed overall to engaging in independent research and to seeking his own avenues of publication (neither the 1932 word-list nor this Complete Pocket Guide were published by IRET). An anonymous review of the 1933 Guide – probably by Palmer – was quite positive:

It is neither a grammar book nor a dictionary, nor is it a mere glossary of technical terms, but partakes of the nature of all three. It explores much of that territory that lies between the domains of the lexicographer and the grammarian, but in such a way that the result of the exploration is immediately available for the student.

(Anon. 1934a: 10)

It is tempting to speculate that this book may have had some influence on Palmer’s decision later to guide IRET research work in the direction of ‘new-type dictionaries’, a path which culminated in his own (1938) Grammar of English Words and Hornby et al.’s (1942) Idiomatic and Syntactic Dictionary.

In April 1931, Faucett and his family had left Japan, not to return to Yenching University as originally envisaged but to make their way back to the USA. Apparently, Faucett had been awarded ‘a year’s furlough in America and Europe’ (T[homas] 1931: 9), but he was never in fact to return to teach in China. Instead, he secured two important coups in rapid succession – firstly, an agreement with Oxford University Press to publish what was to be called the Oxford English Course, and, secondly, a three-year Research Fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation. The latter award was later to lead to his pioneering a course in methods of English as a foreign language teaching at the Institute of Education, University of London (in 1935–6).

It is likely that, following a short period in Chattanooga, Faucett went on to the UK in late summer, 1931, possibly for a period of study at Oxford University. It was during his time there, probably, that he first approached Oxford University Press (OUP), apparently following a failed approach to Longmans, Green (who were not interested in his materials, since they were already committed to Michael West’s New Method series) (Sutcliffe 1978: 214). Although OUP’s Indian Branch had already developed a list for what was termed at the time ‘native education’, in terms of overall market share OUP lagged behind both Macmillan and Longmans, Green. From 1926 Eric Parnwell in the London office (at Amen House, Warwick Square), had therefore been given the task of becoming ‘expert in education overseas’. During a tour of Southern Africa in 1928, Parnwell discovered that

children were being taught English as their second language, with virtually no suitable textbooks, by teachers whose own English was barely intelligible. Evidently there were vast opportunities for the publisher if he could find the man [sic] to write the books that were so badly needed.

(Sutcliffe 1978: 214)

Lacking appropriate authors, Parnwell had gone so far as to produce ‘a little book himself for schools in Malta at the request of the Director of Education there’ (ibid.). He had even produced his own list of 2,000 words on the basis of The Pocket Oxford Dictionary, which he was intending to turn into an elementary English course for African schools (ibid.). When Faucett approached him with, presumably, a proposal for a fully fledged course based on careful previous research and piloting, and with a balanced emphasis on speaking as well as reading skills which distinguished him from West, the timing must have seemed just right to Parnwell.

Following his return to the USA, then, Faucett ‘worked at home, mainly on the Oxford English Course and comparative linguistics of various kinds’. He further reported that

On the basis of my studies in comparative linguistics, I received a grant from the Carnegie Corporation for three years, which enabled me to continue studies at Yale University for several months before being put in charge of the teaching of English in Turkey, where I stayed for 15 months, training teachers of English.

Although the Carnegie Research Fellowship he had won began officially in autumn 1932, in the preamble to an article published in July in the British journal Oversea Education he is already described as ‘a research worker under the Carnegie Corporation’ (Faucett 1932: 178). In January 1933 he published a second article on the same topic of ‘English word-values’ (similarly relating to the research carried out for Faucett and Maki 1932). An anonymous synthesis of his, Palmer’s and West’s contributions to vocabulary limitation in the next issue of the journal (Anon. 1933) indicates that the Oxford English Course was due to be published in April of the same year.

During his short period of studies at Yale, Faucett and his family lived in Branford, Connecticut, but in spring, 1933, they went to London for a few weeks before moving to Istanbul. Here Faucett had been asked by the Carnegie Corporation, and, presumably, the Turkish government, to act as an adviser, helping with the introduction of English into secondary schools and advising more generally on educational problems in line with the reforms being promoted by Kemal Atatürk. 

Parnwell and his wife visited the Faucetts during their time in Istanbul, partly to discuss progress of the Oxford English Course, most of which was published in 1933, and – probably – to plan further developments, including the Melita English Course (the Primer for which was published in 1934, co-authored with Parnwell, with Books 1 to 5 being completed later by F.G. French). The Oxford English Course itself was, as Howatt (1984: 215) has indicated, ‘the first large-scale direct-method course for English as a foreign language [. . .]. It established a pattern which was widely copied later, the course “package”’. With its successors, it also helped to spread the whole conception of ‘Oxford English’ worldwide (the Oxford English Dictionary itself was only named as such in the same year, 1933).

The course consisted of the following components, all published in 1933 unless otherwise indicated:

Reading Books Language Books Supplementary Readers (1933-36) Teacher's Handbooks
Book I Part I [Primer] Book I Part I   Part I
Book I Part II Book I Part II   "
Book II Book II Stage A (500 words) "
Book III Book III Stage B (1,000 words) Part II (1936)
Book IV (1934) Book IV (1934) Stage C (1,500 words) "
    Stage D (2,000 words) "

Additional materials: Picture Dictionary (Faucett 1933c) and Reading cards (Faucett 1933d).

Faucett had not been the first to come up with the idea of a ‘course package’: West – in his New Method series – had combined Readers with ‘Companions’ and Supplementary Readers for home-study, and had provided Handbooks for Teachers; and Palmer, in his own ‘Reader System’ published in Japan, had associated Readers with corresponding books of questions and answers for oral or written work, and books of exercises in English composition, with these later being complemented by Side Readers for ‘supplementary rapid reading’. Indeed, an IRET Bulletin review of the Oxford English Course remarks ‘There is much in the course that reminds us of the technique of Dr. West, on the one hand, and, on the other, of our own. What is common to the three techniques in general is the close association between the reading texts and the remainder of the course’ (Anon.1934b: 10). As we have seen, Faucett had met and deliberately set out to learn from both West and Palmer, adopting and extending West’s ideas on vocabulary grading and the need for supplementary reading, and being influenced by Palmer particularly with regard to types of oral exercise. To take just one example, the idea expressed in the Teacher’s Handbook Part I of a two-week initiation period prior to use of the first Reading Book seems to owe much to Palmer’s similar recommendation for the ‘First Six Weeks of English’ (Palmer 1929). However, there were many original features in Faucett’s materials – the production and use of a Picture Dictionary for this two-week period was Faucett’s idea, for example, as was his advocacy of flash cards to encourage speed-reading – and their organization was much ‘tighter’ than those by Palmer. They had had a long gestation period, being based, as stated in the Publisher’s Foreword to the Teacher’s Handbook, on ‘scrupulously tested’ methods of instruction in China, the Philippines and Japan. As revealed in our account above, Faucett seems always to have gone out of his way to teach classes of beginners and to develop effective materials and techniques on the basis of this experience.

Unlike the New Method Readers, the Oxford English Course placed a balanced emphasis on the four skills, and constituted the first serious rival to Longmans, Green dominance of the growing market for graded English as a foreign language course materials. It was to provide an influential model for other courses: C.E. Eckersley (1893–1967), for example, was to borrow the idea of 500-word stages in his popular four-part course for Longmans, Green, Essential English for Foreign Students (1938–42). By late 1934, it seems, Faucett’s course had been adopted by the governments of Turkey, Iraq, Malta, Bengal and Egypt, and later adaptations were to be officially adopted in Kenya, Malaya and Hong Kong. Although, even after the publication of the Oxford English Course, Parnwell’s Overseas Education department ‘thrived only modestly’ overall (Sutcliffe 1978: 215), it is no exaggeration to say that Faucett’s course was the foundation for what is now OUP’s most profitable publishing arm in all parts of the world.

The success of the course, from the beginning, in Turkey must have had a lot to do with Faucett’s influence with the government there – he was in Istanbul, based at Robert College, from spring 1933 to summer 1934. In 1934, however, he had been offered an attachment to the University of London, Institute of Education (established in 1932), for the remainder of his Carnegie Research Fellowship. This was in the context of a separate three-year Carnegie Corporation grant to the Institute (1934–7) for ‘developing its relations with students of education in the British Dominions, Colonies and Dependencies’. Percy Nunn, the Director of the Institute, hoped to retain Faucett as a lecturer beyond the expiry of his Carnegie Research Fellowship, and so it may have been partly at his suggestion that Faucett planned a fact-finding ‘world tour’ which was to take up the whole of the academic session 1934–5. In particular, Nunn hoped, Faucett would ‘study on the spot the problems of teaching English to natives of tropical Africa’. This would then enable him – if possible, from the beginning of the summer term 1935 – to ‘give the students of our Colonial Department and others the benefit of his studies in the teaching of English to non-European pupils, particularly young Africans’.

Faucett had additional commitments to fulfil, however, and – although officially attached to the Institute from autumn 1934 onwards – he was not to teach there until the 1935–6 session. Leaving their two oldest daughters (aged 15 and 12) and son (aged 9) at boarding schools in England, Faucett, his wife and youngest daughter (aged 2) first went to the USA. There he was to attend the Carnegie Conference on ‘The Use of English as a World Language’ (15–19 October 1934) in New York and take part in the deliberations of its sub-committee (with Palmer and West) in Chicago and Columbus, Ohio. His wife and daughter returned to England before Christmas, but Faucett went on to Japan (December 1934), Shanghai and Manila, then Malaya and Ceylon before – in the early part of 1935 – making the extensive ‘survey of conditions’ in East Africa (Kenya and Uganda) which had been desired by the Institute of Education. Having received an invitation from Sudanese Government officials he then proceeded to Khartoum (rather than, as originally intended, the Union of South Africa), and, travelling down the Nile, he also held discussions with educational officials in Egypt. Following brief visits to the American University of Beirut and Robert College in Istanbul he arrived back in the UK, intending to share his experiences with Institute of Education students during the summer term of 1935.

Unfortunately, the ‘long journeys in difficult climates, with practically no intervals for rest but incessant activity at the stopping places, proved [. . .] too much for Dr. Faucett’s strength, and he was obliged on his return to England to retire to a nursing home’. This seems to have been the reason for his missing the follow-up Carnegie meeting in London, in June 1935. However, by September his health had been fully reestablished and, with his Carnegie Fellowship coming to the end of its three-year term, he accepted Nunn’s offer of a part-time lectureship in ‘methods of teaching English to non-western pupils’ within the new Colonial Department of the Institute (this lectureship being sponsored by a grant from the Rhodes Trust).

Beginning in autumn 1935, Faucett ran the first ever yearlong training course in English as a foreign language teaching at a British university. He reported on the course as follows in September 1936:

The year has been mainly devoted to the establishing of the course in the teaching of English to non-Western peoples. The plan of lectures and seminars used during the year was on the whole successful. [. . .] The avoiding of overlapping with the work of other lecturers and the calling in of outside lecturers to present special phases of the general subject have been two features of the year’s work.

Living in North Oxford and visiting London for his two teaching days a week, Faucett was also busy in the first term co-authoring the Interim Report on Vocabulary Selection (Faucett et al. 1936). Then, following its publication in the early part of 1936, he coordinated its dissemination and the collation of questionnaires received back from readers (Palmer 1936: 23; Anon. 1937: 212; cf. Faucett 1936). His daughter recalls how ‘We received word listings from all over the world at our house in Oxford [. . .]. We counted the votes for or against the words listed, I presume to get input on the preferred words in the different countries’. She also recalls how the family were friendly with the Wests, who lived in nearby Abingdon.

In December 1936 Faucett had confirmed that he would like to stay at the Institute beyond his initial one-year appointment, and he was welcomed to stay for a further three years. In September 1936 he looked forward to the following year as follows: ‘A very similar plan will be experimented with during the coming school year. [. . .] It is hoped that a class which can be used for demonstration and practice teaching will be found among the L[ondon] C[ounty] C[ouncil] schools’.

However, Faucett was ‘seized by grave illness’ shortly before the 1936–7 session commenced and was unable to resume duty: ‘Temporary arrangements were made for carrying on his work, but at the end of the second term the Delegacy [of the Institute] was compelled, very regretfully, to terminate the appointment’. In place of his classes, a course of lectures was given by West, Palmer, Ogden, I.A. Richards, A. Lloyd James (of the School of Oriental Studies), and – from within the Institute – B.N. Parker, C. Duff and P. Gurrey. The course for 1937–8 was to be organized in consultation with Ogden, Daniel Jones and Lloyd James.

Despite this personal setback, Faucett’s work for the Institute had succeeded in raising the profile of English as a foreign language teaching, and at the end of 1937 a ‘Department of the Teaching of English as a Foreign Tongue’ was referred to for the first time in official Institute literature.

Faucett himself lived for many more years (until 1978), but he was not to take up again the mantle of leadership in the field of EFL that he had begun to assume during the 1930s. There were to be numerous adaptations of his Oxford English Course into the early 1950s, initially by Isabelle Frémont for Africa (the market Parnwell had particularly hoped to make progress in) and, for wider sales, by F.G. French. Faucett returned to the USA in 1939, and did, it seems, cooperate to some extent on word-lists with E.L. Thorndike in the late 1940s. In the mid-1950s he produced textbooks for the Japanese publisher Shinozaki Shorin, and as late as 1972 issued materials for learning English with a Taiwanese publisher. Mainly, however, his post-war scholarship was in the area of moral philosophy. His work in this field was motivated overall by a ‘desire to promote international moral unity’ and ‘a peaceful world through the cooperation of religious peoples’ (Faucett 1956: author’s note at front). He travelled widely in India and South East Asia, visiting and making slides of historical and archeological sites which he later sold to museums. His publications between 1956 and 1978 (mostly self-published, but some edited by his former Tokyo research colleagues Kin Watanabe and Itsu Maki for Shinozaki Shorin) took in an eclectic variety of moral and religious teachings – from Socrates to Gotama Buddha, Confucius, Krishna, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Tolstoy (e.g. Faucett 1958, 1962, 1976). Much of his scholarship involved going back to sources in the original languages, evidencing a return to his early interests in comparative philology and Chinese (cf. Faucett 1968, 1978). As his daughter recalls, ‘He was a great researcher, and spent many hours with reference books. [But] unfortunately, the last few years he was legally blind and could no longer read. She also stresses that her father

was fortunate in the two women he married [her mother, Faucett’s first wife and co-author of the Oxford Supplementary Readers, had died in the 1950s]. Mother helped a lot with the story books [. . .] She had to cope with travelling with babies and small children to join him in China [. . .] Mildred Jensen who married Dad in California was a wonderful person, and was a great help to him in his later years.

On 18 April 1978 Lawrence Faucett died in San Diego, having worked to the last to bring out his final book, The Sayings of Confucius: A New Translation of the Analects Based Closely on the Meaning and Frequency of the Chinese Characters.


Anon. 1930a. ‘New publications issued by the Institute’. Bulletin of the Institute for Research in English Teaching 65 (June): 4.

Anon. 1930b. ‘General report [on The Seventh Annual Convention of English Teachers]’. Bulletin of the Institute for Research in English Teaching 68 (Oct.–Nov): 3–9.

Anon. 1933. ‘Simplified English’. Oversea Education 4/3 (April): 126–33.

Anon. [Harold E. Palmer?]. 1934a. ‘Book review: Complete Pocket Guide to Standard English: A Composition Correction Book’. Bulletin of the Institute for Research in English Teaching 101 (February): 10–12, 18.

Anon. 1934b. ‘Book review: The Oxford English Course’. Bulletin of the Institute for Research in English Teaching 103 (April): 10.

Anon. 1937. ‘Teaching of English as a foreign language. Reorganized scheme at the University of London Institute of Education’. Oversea Education 8/4 (July): 212-3.

Craigie, William Alexander. 1917. The Pronunciation of English Reduced to Rules by Means of a System ofMarks Applied to the Ordinary Spelling. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

–––––– 1922. English Reading Made Easy by Means of a System of Marks Applied to the Ordinary Spelling. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Eckersley, C.E. 1938–42. Essential English for Foreign Students. London: Longmans, Green.

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–––––– 1938. A Grammar of English Words. One thousand English words and their pronunciation, together with information concerning the several meanings of each word, its inflections and derivatives, and the collocations and phrases into which it enters. London: Longmans, Green.

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This essay by Richard Smith (uploaded here in 2007) is an adapted version of the Introduction to Smith 2003, Volume 4, where sources of information are more fully indicated. I wish to express my gratitude, in particular, to Mrs. Virginia Barr Harris for her help in providing information and primary sources which have served as the basis for this piece. My thanks go also to Lady Frances Stacey, Mrs. Mariel McEwan and Professor Patricia Harris O’Connor for their help and cooperation. Finally, I am grateful for the assistance of the archivist of Oxford University Press, Dr. Martin Maw, and Sarah Aitchison, archivist at the Institute of Education, University of London.