Search site


Mr Brian Page, OBE

Brian Page, OBE

Many colleagues will already be aware that, sadly, Mr Brian Page, OBE, former director of the Central Language Laboratory, died on 2 December 2007.

Having been a pupil at Guisborough Grammar School, Brian Page entered the University of Reading in 1948 and graduated in 1952 with a First in French. Awarded a research scholarship, he received his MA in 1954 for a thesis on aspects of French drama in the sixteenth century. He then completed a PGCE at the University of Cambridge, following which he was appointed as Assistant Master in the Department of French at Maidstone Grammar School. He moved to Leeds in 1964 to become Head of the Department of Modern Languages at Leeds Modern School, Lawnswood. He excelled in this role, one of his major successes being the planning and development of a new, state-of- the-art Language Laboratory at the School.

Brian Page was eminently well-qualified, therefore, for the appointment he took up in the University in January 1971, as director of the newly-established Central Language Laboratory. Under his friendly and effective stewardship, the Laboratory quickly became a valued and well-used resource. He consistently developed and extended the range of services on offer and attracted a large number of colleagues to take advantage of these. A gifted linguist and an engaging, inspirational and very popular teacher, he devised a range of language courses appropriate to the specialist needs of students in a range of disciplines including engineering, history and law. Mr Page held an associate lectureship in the Department of Linguistics and Phonetics, and also in the School of Education where he contributed with great success for many years to the teaching and supervision of intending language teachers. He is remembered with considerable warmth and affection by his former students and, equally, by his colleagues.

Brian Page enjoyed a substantial reputation both nationally and internationally for his work on the methodology of language teaching, on which he published and lectured extensively. His work was informed by his many years of research into the processes of language learning, enabling him to make substantial contributions to areas including assessment practices and syllabus design. He was one of the driving forces behind the graded objectives movement which had a significant influence on shaping the direction of foreign language teaching in schools within the UK. He was also closely involved in the reform of Joint Matriculation Board (JMB) modern language syllabuses. Much in demand as an external lecturer on courses arranged by local education authorities, HMIs, the British Council and other institutions, he also featured prominently in the inner councils of several professional associations. He chaired the group whose deliberations resulted in the merger of eight separate language associations into the Association for Language Learning in 1990, and became the Associations first national president. A member of several Council of Europe working groups, Mr Page was appointed in 1989 as the UKs expert member of the committee established to implement the LINGUA programme designed to facilitate the development of language learning within the EU. He also acted as a consultant on language teaching to the Cambridge University Press and Longmans. In recognition of his contributions to language teaching, he was granted the title of Chevalier dans lOrdre des Palmes Acadmiques by the French government. This was followed by the award of an OBE in 1990.

Within the University, Brian Pages extensive scholarly achievements were recognised in his promotion to the status of Senior Lecturer in 1979. On the establishment of the Unit for Foreign Language Teaching in 1989, he became Co-Director of the Unit. Brian retired from his University appointment in the following year but retained an active interest in his field of professional expertise. In 2002, he was awarded a Comenius Fellowship by CILT, the National Centre for Languages, in recognition of his distinguished lifetime contribution to language teaching and learning. A personal reminiscence from a current member of the Language Centre tellingly illustrates his significance and influence on the ground; recalling her time teaching adult education classes and secondary school children with the aid of materials produced by Brian Page, including his BBC textbook A Vous la France, she writes:

Although I didn't know him personally, Brian Page was my hero: for simplifying language learning, for bringing French out of the realm of the impossible for ordinary people, for facilitating ordinary direct communications across national barriers between ordinary people in different nations. And for taking the pain out of learning. And not only that, for making learning French something playful, passionate and delightful. In this way, he has made a wonderful contribution to the lives of many - adults and children alike.

Brian Page's connection with Lawnswood School was another recurrent thread in his life. Apart from his time on the staff of Leeds Modern School, which merged with Lawnswood High School in 1972 to form the current Lawnswood School, all three of his sons were pupils of the School, whilst he himself served as Vice Chair and Chair of Governors in the late 1980s and 1990s. He returned as Chair for a second time from 2002 to 2004, to help steer the School through its move into new buildings.

Brian Page is survived by his wife, Jill, and sons, Matthew, Tim and Chris.