John graduated in English from Liverpool University in 1972. His interest in language teaching, and particularly in the language of the workplace, began when he went to Spain as an English teacher, and amongst other things was asked to teach English for Electrical Engineers with no knowledge of the field, and no existing materials. He then spent some time teaching in London, before becoming Director of the British Council Teaching Centre in Muscat, Oman, in his mid-twenties. He had overall responsibility for a teaching programme with around 30 teachers and 1000 students, mostly civil servants attached to government ministries.
His first academic post was at the National University of Singapore, where he taught aspects of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, particularly the use of language in Education. He returned to UK to take up a post in the Language Studies Unit (LSU) at Aston University, where he was appointed Director a few months later. In particular, he expanded Aston’s MSc Programme for teachers of the language of the workplace, opening centres at a number of overseas sites to deliver the programme to a wider audience, turning the programme into the largest in the field in UK. He then undertook a similar role at Surrey University, before moving into academic medicine in 1992, where he was originally appointed to lead on Birmingham’s clinical communication teaching.
He therefore has direct responsibility, shared with Dr Connie Wiskin, for clinical communication teaching on a range of College Programmes.
John’s role has expanded as the definition of “clinical communication” has itself expanded, so that he and the ISU team are now closely involved in delivering teaching in a wide range of areas, such as training the trainers, management, leadership and other areas of Professionalisation.
Apart from work with students registered at Birmingham John is closely involved, through the ISU, with offering courses for qualified health professionals, mostly doctors. In particular, the ISU has a contract with Health Education West Midlands to offer 1 to 1 support to 100 doctors – and some dentists – each year, in the Referred Doctors Programme. (Some doctors refer themselves, in addition – we welcome enquiries).
The ISU has a national and international reputation in the field of clinical communication