My friend and colleague Alun Rees, who died suddenly at the age of 83, had a long and distinguished career teaching English as a foreign language. Alun has worked for over 40 years in schools, universities and ministries of education in 16 countries. He specialized in teacher training and was well known for his inspirational training sessions combining deep scholarship with humor and imagination.
Born in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, to Joan (née Watts), piano teacher, and Thomas Rees, works manager, Alun attended high school in Haverfordwest. In the early 1960s, after graduating from University College Cardiff with a degree in English and Philosophy, Alun went to Spain to teach at the Berlitz School in Burgos for three years. At that time there were few commercial teaching materials and Alun began to develop his own range of innovative teaching ideas.
After four years of teaching at the University of Trujillo in Peru and three at the National University of Laos, in 1977 Alun moved to Senegal, where he worked for six years as a pedagogical adviser in English to the Ministry of Education, setting up in-service training programs for teachers. . During this time, he won the Anglophone Union Prize for a paper on teacher shadowing. In 1983 he returned to the UK to begin a doctorate at the Institute of Education in London.
Throughout the 1980s, Alun was in great demand to teach in residential teacher training programs, particularly in Spain, invited by the British Council and the Spanish Ministry of Education. Teachers loved him for the original way he delivered serious content and for the evening shows he organized and accompanied, full of original skits, songs, puppets, magic tricks and prizes.
After completing his doctorate, Alun taught at the West Sussex Institute of Higher Education (now the University of Chichester) and then at the University of Exeter, where he met Ekuko Narushima; they married in 2000. Colleagues speak of Alun’s popularity and the fact that students enjoyed his classes. He ended his career at the University of Gloucestershire as a highly successful Director of the International Office.
Alun enjoyed 20 years of retirement in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, with Ekuko, involved in fishing, organic gardening and applying his mind to the non-chemical deterrent of pests from squirrels to slugs. He maintained regular correspondence with many former colleagues and students, sending insightful emails about language teaching, fishing, horticulture and the state of the world.
Alun is survived by Ekuko.