Mike died on Sunday morning. He will be greatly missed by the applied linguistics academic community, by the anarcho-syndicalist movement, by his wide circle of friends all over the world, and by the hundreds, including me, who owe their academic careers to his generous help.
Over a period of more than forty years, Mike had a massive influence on developments in psycholinguistics, instructed SLA, and TBLT. His CV is testament to his contributions to the field; it includes a huge volume of published material, progressive editorial work and teaching that changed the lives of so many. Mike was a brilliant, meticulous, scrupulously honest academic, who had a lifelong commitment to “L’education Integrale”, as he called it in his book SLA and Task-based Language Teaching. He begins Chapter 4: “Education of all kinds, not just TBLT … serves either to reserve or challenge the status quo, and so is a political act, whether teachers and learners realize it or not”. Mike combined the highest standards of intellectual rigor with a sustained fight against the status quo. He was a regular contributor to the Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, joined campaigns and picket lines fighting for the rights of intellectual workers, and made many donations to support the anarchist movement.
Mike was a dangerous man to sit next to, in a conference plenary, a committee meeting, a seminar, wherever eruptions of laughter were frowned on. His stage-whispered asides were often just too funny to keep the laughter in, and even in restaurants, I was once asked by waiters to keep the noise down, as Mike, crying with laughter himself, told one of his funny stories. He was a delight to be with, and I’m glad that he was so fond of Cataluña, which he visited as often as he could. He and his partner Cathy Doughty called their son Jordi, his favorite football team was FC Barcelona, he loved Priorat wines, and we often went up to the cemetery in Montjuic to pay our respects to Buenaventura Durruti and his fallen comrades.
Among lots of projects he gave his support to, Mike helped Neil McMillan and I put together a teacher education course on TBLT. He thoroughly approved of the SLB Cooperative, so he happily gave us advice and materials, recorded presentations, and took part in webinars with participants on the course.
Mike and I were in the middle of writing a book about the ELT industry when he got the sudden news of his illness. He spent the last few months of his life working on the book, and, helped by Cathy, we got nine of the fourteen chapters more or less done. Cathy and I will now try to finish it.
Mike was the best teacher I ever had, and a wonderful, generous friend. I’ll miss him terribly.
P.S. There’s a great website here in honour of Mike: IN MEMORY | Mike Long (wixsite.com