My thoughts were with the family of the late Stephen Bax over Christmas (News, 14 December).
It is odd how Stephen, an Open University professor and leading authority on the use of technology for language learning, and I followed similar paths but never met until relatively recently. He spent his childhood in Zimbabwe while I was in Zambia. Africa was in our blood, and we returned as young men to teach English in Sudan at the same time for the first two years of our careers. Eventually, we both ended up in the UK academy, but when Stephen visited my then university for a viva, I was abroad so our paths failed to cross.
We shared interests in technology in language education and in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages, with Stephen’s work impacting on my research. It was wonderful to finally meet him in 2016. We got on like a house on fire, working together in 2017 to promote TextInspector.com, his online tool that can automatically analyse the difficulty of a written text, which won a British Council award for digital innovation.
Alas, our plans are now laid to rest with his sad passing, and his death leaves a void in the academy.
Editor and founder TESOLacademic.org
Years ago, I attended a training course on language assessment run by Stephen Bax in Kuala Lumpur. He was a great trainer with a knack for getting on well with people. All the participants, from four different countries, enjoyed the course and social activities. He will be greatly missed.
Thaksin University, Thailand
I worked closely with Stephen on editing the book Beyond the Language Classroom: Researching MOOCs and Other Innovations and also on a mobile Chinese character learning project. A dear colleague, he was an inspiring and caring mentor with a great sense of humour, who was passionate about language learning and generous with his time.
Senior lecturer, School of Languages and Applied Linguistics
The Open University