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Palmer, Harold Edward

b. 1877, London; d. 1949, Felbridge, UK

Harold E. Palmer worked tirelessly between the two World Wars to establish a principled basis for English language teaching (ELT). Given the subsequent influence of his ideas, he deserves greater recognition as the ‘founding father’ of (British) ELT. However, it is in Japan (where he spent the years 1922–36) that he is best remembered today.

Palmer first taught in Belgium, in a language school run along Berlitz lines. He then began to develop his own more systematic, less dogmatically monolingual version of direct method teaching, which he later termed the ‘Oral Method’ (Palmer, 1921b; see also Palmer and Palmer, 1925). He joined the international phonetic association in 1907, and ...

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