Richard Hewison (Alumnus, University Western Australia)
I am truly saddened to hear of Mike’s passing. I only knew him briefly back in the early 1990’s during his time as Head of Applied Linguistics at the University of Western Australia, where he was my initial Master of Education supervisor. His was truly an incisive mind tempered with a ready wit. He had the knack of objectively criticising my work whilst at the same time encouraging me to achieve better. We kept up an albeit sporadic correspondence for some years after his departure from Australia, but his responses were always friendly and engaging, and his advice gratefully received. I will always credit Mike for setting my sights higher, and for that I thank him sincerely. Vale Prof. Long.
Ilaria Borro (University of Portsmouth)
When Mike agreed to be my PhD supervisor, I could not believe my luck. This feeling grew even more as my project developed, seeing the passion and attention he devoted to it. He read and reviewed every line, word (and comma!) of my thesis, with a genuine care going way beyond my wildest dreams. No-one else has ever taught me so much, through an equal amount of enthusiastic encouraging and unforgiving corrections. There are no words to express my deep gratitude for the professional and personal teachings I received working with him. My commitment is to make every effort in order for my work to be worthy of the time and energy Mike spent guiding me.
From Yucel Yilmaz (Indiana University)
Mike’s ideas are so inspirational and stimulating that it is difficult to do SLA research and not having had mental conversations with him at some point. I frequently discussed things with him in my head, but I also had the privilege of having real conversations with him. In one of them, I was part of a group invited to his house when I was a graduate student. I had cooked some food for the gathering. He asked about the ingredients. I started: vine leaves, rice, pine nuts... And, then, I wanted to say currants, but I mispronounced the word. He gently recasted me: “Oh you mean currants!!! This is delicious”. Do recasts work? Well, depends on who you get them from. At another gathering in his house, several other guests and I watched the world cup final with him. Such a privilege. World cup finals are always memorable, but I doubt any other final can be as memorable as a world cup final between Spain, full of Barça players, versus the Netherlands in his house. I remember how excited he got when the Barça players in Spain created chances and eventually scored a goal. He was angry with de Jong for being too aggressive and with Robben for always doing the same trick. I will remember him as a great thinker and scholar who had the ability to write about serious issues with subtle humor. And, I will remember his passion for Barça and Catalan people whenever I watch a Barça game. Tot el Camp…!
From Alessandro Benati (University of Hong Kong, China)
Mike played a huge role in the development of second language acquisition as a field of research. He was a true academic; relentless in his publications right up until his untimely death. He was a believer in the power of dissemination to further the debate in our field. He was truly committed to the promotion of research in second language acquisition. We are all indebted to Mike. On a personal level I remember his generosity of time for others, his dedication to his students and his friendship with me and Stefano. The last time Mike visited his homeland, it was to enjoy a Premiership football match and to reminisce about his formative years in London. My wife and my family really enjoyed his company. I have great memories of the time Stefano and I spent with him in Siena enjoying great wine and eating ‘’il brasato di manzo al Brunellodi Montalcino e pepe nero. I will miss him greatly.
From Arash Shafiee ( University of Verona, Italy)
Prof. Long's works and contributions to SLA helped me understand how the traditional and structure-based modes of grammar teaching are still widely used around the world. I explored many of his works and research findings while working on my final thesis as a master's student in Linguistics, and I'm not sure how I would have coped without them. Unfortunately, I was never able to meet him in person or work with him, yet he responded to my e-mails as soon as I contacted him for the very first time and encouraged me to follow my academic endeavours. You inspired me to never give up on my academic dreams Prof. Long. Rest in peace.
From Rod Ellis (Curtin University, Perth, Australia)
I first met Mike Long in 1982 at a conference on 'Input in Second Language Acquisition' at the University of Michigan and remember being so impressed by his presentation. My subsequent contacts have been professional rather than personal linked to meetings at conferences. Mikes' influence on my own work has been huge often feeding into my own ideas about SLA and TBLT and and sometimes leading to alternative ideas. I guess we might be perceived as on opposite sides of debates on some issues. But any differences in our professional world never affected our personal relationship. My abiding memory of Mike is at a mini-conference on TBLT in Portugal in December 2016. We had aired our differences in presentations at the conference but then enjoyed convivial wine-filled dinners with are hostess in the evenings together. Mike could be such so stimulating and such good company and I will miss him in both my professional and personal worlds
From Matt Coss (UMD-SLA grad; now GWU & UMD-NFLC)
In a word, ‘grateful’ is what comes to mind when I think of Mike. None of us at UMD would have come to Maryland or have gone on to careers across the field without his effort and contributions to the field at large, to SLA at UMD, and to each of us individually. I can still hear his encyclopedia-like citations recited off the top of his head, telling us about a publication from some scholar at some school who studied under some PhD advisor and presented a plenary at some conference—he could even cite the references down to the journal issue with perfect accuracy. I remember Mike always being quick to follow up an admiring reference to an “Ellis” publication saying “That is NICK, not ROD Ellis” with a finger pointed in the air for emphasis. I personally am particularly grateful that even after I had graduated from the program, Mike spent significant time working with me and leaving extremely detailed comments on two versions of a manuscript I am working on—I could hear all of the comments being read in his voice and tone (and he would be appalled to see that I have already used two em dashes in this paragraph of writing, to be sure). Mike’s dedication to his work, to his students, to Barcelona soccer, to the field at large… these are all things that touched every student lucky enough to call him a teacher and a mentor. The letter of recommendation he wrote for me the week he went into the hospital is something I will always treasure. As devastated as I am that I won’t get to tell him in person the good news that the letter helped bring about, I feel so very lucky to have had him so directly impact my personal and academic life during and since my time at Maryland. For so many, “the greats” of our field are only ever prolific producers of books, edited volumes, and journal articles and invited speakers at conferences all over the world, their greatness only able to be admired and inspirational from afar. We at Maryland (and those at Hawaii, Penn, and so many other universities and programs across the world) were so lucky to have had the Mike Long right here with us day in and day out. If one day I can be a fraction of the passionate, brilliant, accomplished, and always so very intellectually humble scholar and contributor to SLA that Mike was, I will have accomplished a great deal indeed. Thank you Mike, for everything. I only wish to have had a chance to thank you in person one last time for it all.
From Kris Van den Branden (KU Leuven, Belgium)
In the gallery of this website, there is a picture of me looking down while Mike is holding a speech (He had just been awarded the first TBLT Distinguished Achievement Award). If you’re wondering what I am doing: I am laughing. Of course I want to honour the immense contribution he made to the field of applied linguistics, and to TBLT in particular. He built the road that we are travelling on. He laid down the foundations of focus on form, needs analysis, task-based language teaching, program evaluation…. But I also want to share with you that he made me laugh so often. And that I feel greatly indebted to him for seeing the potential of the manuscript that would become the Leuven 2006 CUP volume on the implementation of task-based language teaching. Consistent with one of his own methodological principles, he provided me with invaluable feedback to improve it. He was passionate about language teaching, and greatly concerned with what second language education could mean for people. He believed in the kind of language education that empowers people, gives them a voice, helps them do the things they need to be able to do to participate in society, learn, and become better people. Thanks, Mike, for sharing so many of your ground-breaking ideas with us. You will remain a source of inspiration for a very, very LONG time.
From Jon Malone (UMD)
It's been such a joy to read these stories, and to see how much Mike has meant to so many. Like many of us, Mike is the reason I'm pursuing an academic career in SLA. I took a survey course at UMD prior to applying for the program, and every class period felt like having a fire hydrant of information trained directly on me. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced as a student, it opened my mind to the broader SLA world, and it made me think about teaching in ways I'd never been asked to before. I also have many personal stories of Mike, but this one is perhaps the funniest of my academic career, and may be funny for you if you knew how much Mike despised many aspects of computer technology. When I had taken the survey course, Mike told me to apply for the UMD SLA program, and said he would be happy to write a recommendation letter for me. He shared the "finished" product with me, and to my amazement, his caps lock button had "gotten stuck on" halfway through the letter. This meant that my accomplishments and his strong recommendation WERE SHOUTED TO THE DEPARTMENT. I'm not sure I've laughed more in the past 20 years, and I was accepted into the program. In the spirit of Mike's force of personality and good humor, let me just say this: THANK YOU, MIKE. MAY WE REMEMBER AND HONOR YOUR WORK WELL.
From Diane Larsen-Freeman (Professor Emerita, University of Michigan)
I have so many memories and stories to share about Mike. I will just give a few here in an attempt to provide a little history that others might not be familiar with. I first met Mike in the late 1970s when he was a Ph.D. student in an SLA course that I was teaching at UCLA. Needless to say, he was an excellent student—so much so that when Chris Candlin asked me to write an introductory book on SLA, I turned around immediately and invited Mike to join me as a co-author. No doubt one could find faults with our book (such as our propensity to “commatize” as Mike put it), but one of them was not the lack of comprehensiveness. The field was fairly young when we were writing in the 1980s, and between us, we could “cover” the field. That was not to be the case for long, and when Chris invited a second edition, we declined after realizing the enormity of the task. Another early memory is in 1988 when we participated in the “Empirical Research on Second Language Learning in Instructional Settings Conference” at the magnificent Bellagio Study Center on Lake Como, Italy. At that small gathering, it was the first time, I believe, that Mike made his now-famous distinction between a focus on forms versus a focus on form. The paper was subsequently published in a volume, edited by In Kees de Bot, Ralph Ginsberg and Claire Kramsch, Foreign Language Research in Cross-cultural Perspective, published by John Benjamins in 1991. I will share one final memory. Mike is known for incisive wit, and some have withered under it. But Mike had a warm, soft side. You just had to ask him about his son, Jordi, and it was immediately apparent. One time I was attending a conference, and Mike came over to me, grinning from ear to ear and accompanied by someone else. The someone else was Herb Seliger. Herb and Mike had edited a book, Classroom Oriented Research in Second Language Acquisition, published by Newbury House in 1983. Neither of us had seen Herb for a long time, and it was clear that Mike and Herb were delighted to see each other again. We shared many happy moments. Even though Mike and I have had only had intermittent contact in recent years, I always assumed, as one does, that he would be around. Sadly, this is not to be the case. I shall miss Mike greatly.
From Mohammad Ahmadian (University of Leeds)
Co-editing the Cambridge Handbook of TBLT with Mike Long has been (and will be) the greatest honor of my professional and academic life. Although I met Mike only once at TBLT conference in Barcelona back in 2017, he had been my role model since I was 23, doing my MA degree in Iran. During my MA and PhD studies, Mike always responded to my (at times, silly!) questions with patience. He would always generously offer his advice and wisdom, without knowing me personally! My first communication with him dates back to 30 December 2008 at 18:38 p.m. I wrote to him:"Hello dear prof. Long, I was wondering if you could comment on the abstract attached. thanks in advence". He got back to me 10 minutes later at 18:48 p.m. : "The abstract makes the study sound very appetizing! Whether it stands up will depend on how you matched grammatical targets to learners' developmental readiness. The ID variables are crucial, the recasts research so far indicates. What is this, a thesis or dissertation? I expect you know these sources, but in case not, see Mackey (SSLA 1999) on the readiness issue, and the old exchange in Applied Linguistics in the early 1990s, as I recall, between Carol Chapelle (promoting the importance of field dependence/independence in SLA) and Ron Sheen." Starting and completing the Cambridge Handbook of TBLT would have been impossible without Mike's wisdom and exceptional overview of the field. I was really lucky that he agreed to collaborate with me on the project. I learned A LOT from him. He was a man of critical acumen and wit. He loved commas... He sent me this message after re-reading our introduction the Handbook: "I read it carefully again just now, and found six small errors --typos, a missing comma, etc." He was not only a giant in the field of SLA and Applied Linguistics but he was also, and in my opinion more importantly, such a kind and generous person. He will always be missed and remembered.
From Klaus Schwienhorst (Leibniz University, Hannover (Germany)
I'm shocked to hear of Mike's passing. I was fortunate to have worked with him on a team of advisors for a private language company. You had to come extremely well prepared to these expert meetings and he would be pushing the discussions until you had discovered something new. He could then as easily switch to relaxation mode and I remember his wide range of interests, be it soccer, food wine, or history, and most of all, his witty stories. You will be sorely missed, Mike.
From Angel Lin (Simon Fraser University, Canada)
Took his Research Methods course in Hawaii in the TESOL Summer Institute in 1986... still remember his passion for research and support for young scholars... he'll always be in my fond memory...
From Yan Liao (University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point)
I was lucky to have taken a number of Dr. Long's classes when I was in grad school at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Dr. Long was such a great mind in second language acquisition! I always remember this one time in class when my mind was actually able to follow his thought completely, and boy what an enjoyment that is! For me, it's a rare glimpse into the sheer beauty of intellect and logical reasoning, facilitated by one of the best professors I have had. I also liked Dr. Long for his maximum 5-page or 10-page paper assignments. As he put it, if you can't get it across in 5 (or 10) pages, then you probably have too much to say. Thank you, Dr. Long!
From Teresa Maria Wlosowicz (University of Economics and Humanities, Poland)
I never met Professor Long, but I appreciate his work a lot and whenever a student of mine writes about language needs, I recommend Professor Long's book to him or her. May he rest in peace. Please, accept my condolences.
From Parvaneh Tavakoli (University of Reading)
Mike Long's research has been one of the most impactful in the field of SLA, one that has shaped our current understanding of many of the key concepts, and one that has gathered together many researchers from different backgrounds and interests. It is sad to lose him so early, but the legacy he has left behind will be remembered for a long time.
From Rosely Xavier (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil)
I’m very sorry to hear that Dr. Michael Long passed away. I had the pleasure to sit in on his talk in 2007 at the TBLT Conference. His proposal for a task-based syllabus has motivated my post-graduate students and I to design and implement programs for ESP and GPE in EFL Brazilian contexts. One day, Telma Amorim, one of my students, decided to write to M. Long to clarify some doubts about his TBLT program. He was very kind, receptive, and generous. When Amorim and I presented our work in the TBLT 2011 conference, we decided to send M. Long our powerpoint presentation asking for his comments. He demonstrated so much interest that he ended up citing our PPP in his article about language needs for TBLT in the tourist industry. He was extremely generous, friendly and easy going. His theoretical legacy will never be forgotten.
From Patsy Lightbown (Concordia University, Montreal)
How fortunate I was to have known Mike in the late 1970s when he was in Montreal. Conversations with him influenced my research in classrooms for the next forty years. His larger-than-life personality and rapier wit made every encounter memorable--even if it included strong disagreements! Beyond the academic and professional, I have so many fond and funny memories. One favorite is sitting with him on a restaurant terrace in Dubrovnik, with the full moon reflected on the Adriatic below us. I was overcome by the beauty. Mike's reaction: You've seen one moon, you've seen them all. That was the balloon-busting rapier. But I also knew the generous and supportive Mike, the one who encouraged me to have confidence in the value of my work. And yes, I learned a lot about Spanish wine from him too. Too soon to lose him, but it is absolutely amazing how his work has informed and challenged so many of us.
From Manfred Pienemann (Paderborn University, Germany)
The way I remember Mike is in good company with an equally good glass
of Coonawarra Cab Sav, maybe in Glebe Point Road, Sydney, in a street
cafe with nice food, galahs making their cracking noise, everyone
involved in a debate about fossilisation/ stabilisation while Mike
quickly pays the bill. No time for debate.
He was opinionated, enthusiastic, widely read, witty, generous, a
soccer enthusiast and a lot more. We met 40 years ago at the “First
European-North American conference on SLA” in Lake Arrowhead near LA when SLA was still young and all of its branches were talking to each
other. Mike’s word carried a lot of weight at that conference and on
all the other occasions that followed in so many places. He was a
tremendous force, and I am grateful for all the debates and the good
times we had. Like all of us, I will miss him.
From Martin Bygate (Lancaster University)
We became aware of Mike’s illness just a few weeks ago, and were expecting the worst, but it still comes as a shock. We hope he didn’t suffer too much, and our sympathies go to Cathy and his family and close friends. Gin Samuda and I never knew Mike well so can’t contribute much about past encounters with Mike. But this brutal ending of nearly 40 years of dialogue and debate with him – not to mention the possibility of getting to know him better - leaves us aghast. I became aware of his work in the early 1980’s. At the time I was working in Brazil and starting to explore the applied linguistics literature. In those days, which was before the internet, my only access to journal articles was by writing to ask for copies from the British Library. Amongst the very first photocopies to reach me through the post were articles Mike published in 1976 and 1980. What was immediately striking was the determined and almost pioneering way in which he was seeking to consolidate the research credentials of applied linguistics within the social sciences. A fast-growing network of cross-referenced publications showed his influence. Being subsequently based in the UK, it was only at conferences that I was able to appreciate his breadth and incisiveness in debate, and to hear about the constructive, supportive relationships he created as supervisor and tutor. Later still I was able to experience through his editorial feedback his blend of constructive criticism, his cryptic humour, and his uncanny razor-sharp attention to the smallest detail (including those badly behaved commas that we all seem to have struggled with). The contrast between the assertiveness with which he advanced his own approach to TBLT and what was evidently a genuinely fundamental commitment to the collaborative development of the field will remain an enduring image. And of course, looking back to the late 1970’s, he is without doubt one of only very few who can be truly called the founders of TBLT. His writing, most notably his 2015 monograph, reflect the richness of perspective he brought to TBLT, and at the heart of it, his engagement with the real life functional issues of teaching, materials, language and learning. It is not just a platitude to say that he leaves a huge void – a void that is testimony to the boldness of his contribution - and that his loss is a wrench, even for those who didn’t know him well.
From Shaofeng Li (Florida State University)
Mike's passing was shocking. I emailed him not long ago about a task-based project I was working on, and he invited me to give a talk on working memory at the graduate seminar of the SLS program at University of Maryland. All these felt like yesterday. I couldn't believe it was true when I was told he passed away. Mike has an enormous impact on my research and teaching. I cite him countless times in my works on corrective feedback, form-focused instruction, task-based language instruction, and language aptitude. I teach a course on form-focused instruction and a course on task-based language teaching and learning. Not surprisingly, both courses draw heavily on his insights and research. SLA has lost a giant, but his influence will remain indefinite. To some extent, Mike has been synonymous with SLA. Without his contribution and dedication, SLA cannot reach its current state.
From George Ypsilandis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
I have invited Mike Long on two occasions to come to Thessaloniki (Greece) and deliver talks on SLA and one more by teleconference. He was passionate of SLA and other discussions on politics with profound knowledge on both areas. An excellent drinking partner and argumentative, ready to be involved and present new ideas on his favourite research topics. He is an inspiration and every time I write an argument, I try to imagine how he would react to it. His absence is more sorely felt.
From Jenefer Philp
I feel o so fortunate to have benefited from Mike's research and his originality - evident through many of the topics relating to language learning and teaching, (including applications of TBLT ) and in his publications and conference presentations. They were always insightful and pushed me to think further to consider how best to approach language teaching and learning. Most of all I wish I could have thanked him for his generosity in answering questions, explaining his insights and his encouragement in research.
From Kichan Park (UMD)
What I would like to add to this space is that Mike has influenced not only many famous scholars but also numerous language teachers in the world whose names are unknown. I was one of these language teachers. While teaching a foreign language, I was frustrated because I knew that the way I had been instructed was not effective but I did not know another way to teach it. At that moment, Mike's ideas that I encountered in his books shed a new light to me. I believe that many of his suggestions has changed the direction of language education greatly and helped many language teaching programs worldwide to be more productive. Having Mike, who had already been my mentor even before seeing him, as my advisor was my great honor. As noted by many others, he had warm heart and cared about all of his students. One of the exclusive privileges that I could enjoy as a student at UMD includes having chances to listen to interesting discussions between him and Robert DeKeyser on explicit and implicit learning. I would never forget the time that I spent with him as well as what I learned from him.
From Nina Spada (OISE University of Toronto)
I first met Mike when he hired me to teach ESL during his time as Director of the Continuing Education ESL program at Concordia University in Montreal. It was the late 70s and the field of L2 teaching was in major flux with the rejection of structure-based teaching, audiolingual instruction, and the beginning of the communicative language teaching revolution ---- and Mike always loved a good revolution! He introduced me to functional syllabuses and needs analysis and group work and tasks. He was passionate about the work and pushed us to not only improve our teaching but to do so based on theory and research. Mike also had a terrific sense of humour, played a mean game of tennis, loved music, especially reggae and jazz, and was always up for stimulating conversation and debate particularly over some fine food and wine. They were the best of times and I cherish the memories.
From Karen Vatz
I remember the first time I met Mike when he came to UMD. I was an SLA MA student. He encouraged all of us to stop by his office - his door was always open. Before I even sat down across from him he began grilling me on my research interests, career goals, and publications (there weren't any). He then outlined what I needed to do ("publish early and often"). My thought as I left his office that day was, "I am all in!" Mike was inspirational. The amount of knowledge he shared in a single class session left my mind bursting. He always looked to match his students with opportunities. He wanted each of us to succeed. And his humor. My favorite might be the crying faces he would sometimes draw in the margins of my papers (usually due to missing commas - in his opinion), although I'm not sure he meant that to be funny. We'll miss you, Mike.
From Marije Michel (Groningen University, The Netherlands)
I can hardly express in words how devastating the news about Mike Long's passing away is. There is no single class and hardly ever a paper, in which I do not refer to his seminal work on interaction, SLA, TBLT, needs analysis. Since many years, all my students learn the difference between FonF vs. FonFs. In short: Meeting Mike, one of my heroes in the field, for the first time in person at the TBLT conference in Banff meant a lot to me. More recently, the feedback on our contribution to the TBLT Handbook he co-edited with Mohammad Ahmadian, summarizes what others have referred to before: his love for commas, his generosity, his humor: 'This is exactly what Mohammad and I were hoping for in a case study. I have made a few comments in the attached version, but no major changes are needed . . . except for at least minimal use of the comma key.' Thank you, Mike, for your inspiration, for your analytical perspective, for your dedication for SLA and TBLT. He will be dearly missed and remembered for generations.
From Stefano Rastelli (Università di Pavia)
I invited Mike to Italy twice, the first time during Rugby World Cup 2015. He showed up to the conference dinner with a sheet with his tips for all 44 matches, from the group stages to the final. He claimed to be an expert of the game, which of course he wasn’t. We bet 10 euros on England as the winner. He still owes me that money. Since then, he never lost the occasion to provoke me. During seminars and presentations, in Italy and elsewhere, when I was in the audience, he always proposed to discuss the grammaticality of sentences as “Italy do not deserve being in the Six Nations” “the pope at n.8 is better than Sergio Parisse [our captain]” and the likes. Pundits say that it will take 35 years before Italy can beat England in a rugby match. I think I can wait. But now I have no one to email or call before and after matches, no one who makes me laugh every weekend from early February to late March. Cathy told me that Mike was watching Six Nations until last week. Italy lost to England again, but this time I did receive no emails. So I made the decision that in about 35 years, when it finally happens, it will be the right time also for me to say hi to my son and go have a chat with Mike. He will surely minimize, shrug his shoulder and say that it is the referee’s or the coach’s fault. Then we will sit, have a beer and talk about other things, maybe also SLA.
From Eunsoo Kang (UMD)
It cannot be absolutely without sadness that I realized Dr. Long passed away. Although I personally didn’t share many thoughts and ideas with him through courses, I can surely tell that he always kindly approached me whenever he had an opportunity to listen to my ideas, and shared his tremendously marvelous insights from various points of view. As I remember, he always passionately devoted himself to the good of everyone in our SLA program, and enthusiastically pioneered our field as no one has ever done before. As much as we, I, and all the other members of our program, always enjoyed and appreciated his presence for intellectual acuity, we all, and I personally, cannot help but to mention that he was always a godsend to us even when we causally met each other; I indeed loved his sense of humor, and life philosophy. It seemed to me as if he had a special magic which could turn every second that we shared into a joyful gold that shined by itself. I sincerely wish him rest in peace, and, as much as I miss him, I will keep his memory alive in my heart.
From Peter Robinson (Aoyama Gakuin University)
I am very sorry to hear the news of Mike`s passing. He was such an important part of my life, as a graduate student, and after as a colleague on various conference, publication and other academic projects. I was one of the first three (with Satomi Takahashi and Mark James) to enter the first Ph.D in SLA program, established by Mike, Dick Schmidt, Craig Chaudron, Charlie Sato, Robert Bley-Vroman and others at the University of Hawai`i, and the first to graduate with a Ph.D in SLA in 1994. For a year or two I was the only person who held that degree. Now there are many more, thanks in many fundamental ways to Mike`s hard work, and commitment to establishing the institutional basis of SLA as a field of enquiry (doctoral programs, conferences, authoritative handbooks, etc.). We were given tremendous support, care and attention as doctoral students in those first few years of the doctoral program at UH, because they were trying everything out on us for the first time. Mike was my graduate studies advisor for the most of the five years I was there (he advised me to take all his classes). And I did take his TBLT seminar in my first semester, where we read Prabhu`s book, and readings from a huge packet of photocopies he prepared for us to pick up from the print shop in Puck`s Alley. That would be around the time he published `Task, group, and task-group interactions` in the UH Working Papers, and `The least a second language acquisition theory needs to explain` in TQ, and the time Dick published `The role of consciousness in second language learning` in AL. They were publishing them faster than I could read them! He wanted me to go to conferences, and knowing it was expensive to travel one day after the TBLT class he gave me a cheque for $500 (a lot in those days) `This is from me and Charlie` so I could go to SLRF and TESOL that year. And then at TESOL, he took me round the publishers exhibit and introduced me to all the publishers he knew. Fast forward to last summer and he was grateful for a chapter I wrote for the TBLT handbook, sending comments, yes, punctuation corrections, and `wot dat?` queries on email. He was generous, constructive, challenging, and enthusiastic and will be much missed.
From Jessica Williams
Mike is why I did SLA. End of story.
From Cristina Sanz (Georgetown University)
How can you not like a Brit who loves everything Catalan, names his child Jordi (the Saint Patron of Catalonia) and knows more about Icària than 95% of Catalans? Mike's fun conversations about Barça over excellent wine? Many of you my friends and colleagues will find many reasons to admire Mike. I share all those reasons, but wanted to add one more. I was about to deliver Spinach Catalan style, one of his favorites, at Cathy and Mike's home. I am so sorry I missed the opportunity.
From Stephen O'Connell (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
I’m very sad to hear that Mike has passed. The first time I met him in person was after I had been accepted into the program at Maryland and I was in College Park looking for an apartment. He and Cathy had invited me to stop by their house, and I promptly was thrown totally off balance by him telling me that “I didn’t sound like I was from New York.” I think my greater interest in language testing than SLA made me suspect, and apparently my weak “New York” accent made me even more suspect. But I believe our interactions improved from there, and I learned an immense amount from him -- about task-based language teaching, SLA theory, philosophy of science, and the tenets of anarchism-- to name just a few areas. I'm honored that he served on my dissertation committee and took the time to read closely what I wrote, and I’m very sorry that I won’t be able to bump into him again at a future SLRF or conference.
From Andrea Révész (University College London)
Mike Long has been one of my biggest inspirations in the field. I have reread his books, papers, and chapters many, many times. Although I have never been his student, his ideas played a huge role in prompting me to specialise in SLA and then work on TBLT. I loved the way he conveyed his ideas with such great intellectual rigour but, at the same time, using such beautiful and creative language. When he first mentioned my work at the TBLT conference at Hawaii, it meant the world to me. Then, I audited his TBLT class in 2007 during my year at Georgetown, so thought-provoking (and enjoyable thanks to his great sense of humour!) Ever since I started my PhD, he has been among my SLA heroes. I often tell this to my students in my SLA and TBLT classes. I have recently learned that he did his first linguistics-related degree at the Institute of Education (now part of UCL, my workplace), we will do our best to keep his immense legacy alive here.
From Maria del Pilar García Mayo (Universidad del País Vasco)
I was really shocked when I heard the news of Mike's passing away. I met him many years ago, at the end of the 90s, at a summer course he gave in San Sebastián with Craig Chaudron. Both were great and inspiring. I saw Mike at different conferences throughout the years and he was always willing to give advice on lots of questions I had about TBLT. In fact, he kindly wrote some words for the blurb of my 2007 book on tasks. The last time I saw him was at SLRF in New York in 2016. He was surrounded by colleagues and looked very happy indeed. His work will always be an inspiration for anyone doing research in SLA. Rest in peace Mike. You will be missed.
From Geoff Jordan (Leicester University)
Aysenur's story about commas and dashes reminds me of the first time I got feedback on a text I sent Mike. I'd never seen so many corrections! "What school did you go to?" he asked at the end. I commented on this to Kevin Gregg. "Mike does like a comma," he replied, "I'm surprised there are any left for the rest of us".
From Wei Yi (Peking University)
I knew little about Mike and his work until I was admitted as a PhD student in the SLA program at UMD. I paid him a visit before starting the first semester, and I was deeply impressed by the large collection of books and manuscripts in his office. I feel indebted to him for his tremendous support for my research, and particularly, for his generous encouragement. Mike has left us, yet his contribution will live on, just as the field of research he loved. He will always be remembered.
From Carmen Muñoz (University of Barcelona)
I’m deeply saddened by the loss of Mike, a dearest friend for many years and an admired and respected colleague, whose innovative thought has made the greatest impact on SLA. I met him first, back in the early 90’s, at a seminar he gave in Esade (Barcelona/Mecca) which opened my eyes in many inspiring ways. And then I met him two years later in his office at the University of Hawai’i. I was working on the preparation of the age factor research project that we were about to begin. He pointed to a huge pile on the floor of his office and said “Take that”... everything published and unpublished was there. In that visit, more important than the realization of his deep and wide knowledge of research in our field or of the Spanish Civil War for that matter, was the discovery of his immense kindness and honesty. This was the beginning of a long personal friendship that supported our professional relations and the work of many of us in our research group at the University of Barcelona. His generosity welcoming and helping our most brilliant students had no limits. As for many of us, my most cherished moments took place outside academia with a glass of the best wine and listening to his endless anecdotes always told with a mischievous smile. In this very sad moment, I feel extremely fortunate that our paths crossed. I will miss you greatly, Mike.
From Fatima Montero (PhD student in SLA, UMD)
I met Mike when I was a MA student at Georgetown. Because of a conflict with my working schedule, I couldn’t take a required course at Georgetown so I took this course at UMD with Mike in the evenings. Scheduled for 2.5 hours, these classes would often last for 3 hours or more and I got a lot of parking tickets. I’ve never been happier to pay a parking ticket! I ended up pursuing my PhD at UMD and having the great privilege of working closely with Mike. I don’t have enough words to express how much I respect, thank and love him. Besides academia, Mike and I shared a keen passion for food, which probably explains why I have gained so many pounds since I started my PhD... We would have endless discussions about our favorite restaurants in the area and favorite meals. He introduced me to the fish market in Silver Spring and recommended the farmers market in Takoma Park to go shopping during the pandemic. We would often find ourselves buying conejo (rabbit) at the farmers market in UMD. In cold winter mornings, when we would meet to discuss projects, he would be waiting with a bottle of Spanish aguardiente to warm us up. And I drank the finest wines at his house. I miss you, my dear Mike. Rest in peace.
From Ayşenur Sağdıç (PhD student, Georgetown University)
I met Mike Long in Spring 2019 as I was one of the lucky souls that took Mike's course on TBLT, commuting from Poulton Hall in Georgetown to Jimenez Hall in College Park, a trip familiar to many others in the SLA community. It was my favorite class and every Monday, I looked forward to his brilliant and passionate lectures (and jokes). He was extremely generous to me and supportive of my research and never seemed to tire of inserting commas and hyphens into my manuscripts. Having learned from Mike is a privilege I will be forever grateful for, and his brilliant scholarship and legacy will continue to influence and inspire mine. I know I will think of him every time I see a Rembrandt painting or when Barça wins. He will be greatly missed.
From Xiaoli Gong (PhD student UMD)
When I heard Dr. Long's passing, I am grief-stricken. I had been thinking about sending an email to him! I took a few courses with Dr. Long. He was so knowledgeable and articulate that he could pull many studies off the top of his head. He could even remember the publishing year and journals for these studies. Indeed, Dr. Long was a extremely serious scholar and a gentle mentor. He could be very critical but it was not personal. Instead, he always had an unstoppable passion for using scientific evidence to draw conclusions. He cared about doing good research! Writing papers for his class was not easy because I was aware of his high expectations. But Dr. Long was always patient and generous with me. He graded line by line, pointing out every small error and even explain why. Comments from him made me feel that he was having a conversation with me. Now, I will alway cherish these comments in my email. I will always remember that he encouraged us to read more and get familiar with literature. Rest in peace, Dr. Long! We will always miss you!
From Megan Masters (Director, UMD)
There is no other way to put it: Mike was a FORCE. It took me two entire courses to gain the courage to participate confidently in his lectures, which meant reading and re-reading often cited research-not just the gist of the findings-but to know the team of authors, university affiliations, publication date, publisher, associated mentors, and any associated counter-commentary in response to the published work. These were the basic standards that he set for his students, the foundation upon which each of us began to grow our own interests and research agendas. Mike was refreshingly unapologetically opinionated on a broad range of topics, from why it was ridiculous for me to be driving an SUV, to my inferior comma usage in my writing, to why soccer was a superior sport to American baseball (why, he would argue, would anyone pay to watch grow men spit?, a point that to this day, I have no counterargument), to where to find the best wines in Spain, Mike was not only a mentor, but offered a specific lens through which the world should be viewed. There was no grey-just black or white, good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable.This philosophy, I have learned, helps to make the world slightly less complicated, at least as it relates to taking a stance as an academic. I write this as I have dusted off my Handbook of Language Teaching, the copy he gave me and made me promise to return, likely knowing full well that I never would. He has left an indelible impression on me, and I know, on the entire SLA department at the University of Maryland. I am forever grateful to be a recipient of his training. Rest peacefully, Mike. We will all make you proud.
From NIck Ellis
Had it not been for Mike, I may well not have ended up doing SLA research.
He was so welcoming. I wrote to him out of the blue from Bangor, North Wales, in late 1991 asking him if I could come and visit on what was to be my first sabbatical. He didn’t know me from Adam, but by the next morning there was an e-mail reply with the subject line “Nick Ellis to Hawaii, part 1” (which said ‘yes’). Part 2, which came just a little later, was full of the detail which made it possible.
He was deeply reasoned. He was wonderfully argumentative. He cared. He was funny. He made it all so interesting.
Thank you, Mike.
From Ryo Maie (Michigan State University)
When I first met Mike, I was still an undergraduate student in linguistics visiting the University of Maryland for their MA/PhD program. I was extremely nervous at that time, imagining I would be meeting “the” Mike Long. I first had an appointment with Robert (DeKeyser), and then Mike, but when I arrived, I found Robert still in a meeting with someone else, so I had to wait in a corridor without knowing what to do. A little later, Mike checked in his office and found me nervously standing alone. “Are you Ryo?”, he said. “Why don’t you come in?”. I don’t remember any of the conversations after entering his office, but I surely remember countless interactions I had with him after joining the program. From seemingly trivial banters like when I explained a new FIFA to him and he told me “quit that, it won’t get you a job!”, to some serious and emotional conversations when he tried to cheer me up and told me what he expects me to do as a scholar in future, every interaction I had with him will be assets for the rest of my life. He will be sorely missed, but his immense impact on all of us will never be forgotten.
From Steven Ross (UMD)
Upon reflecting on Mike Long’s distinguished career, I recall my first meeting with him in 1980. That summer, the Linguistic Society of America and the TESOL Summer Institute were hosted by the Department of Linguistics at the University of New Mexico, where I was a graduate student. Mike had just finished his PhD at UCLA, and was invited to teach a six week course on the then-emerging field of second language acquisition. I vividly remember his enthusiasm and charisma lecturing to an overflow class of summer school students, and especially his extemporaneous recitation of the entire literature on SLA, a lecturing style for which he has always been famous.
Mike was also a ferocious competitor, winning the Summer Institute Tennis Tournament undefeated, and nearly unscored upon. I lost to him love six. Mike was that summer on his way east to the University of Pennsylvania, where he initiated a program of research with Penn graduate students. Cathy Doughty and Terri Pica, to name two, were soon recognized as prolific producers of SLA research in the late 1980s. Not long after, Mike joined the faculty at the University of Hawai’i, and in less than half a decade he was instrumental in building a graduate program that eventually achieved international notoriety in the 1990s for the volume and quality of its research. A number of Mike’s Hawai’i PhD students would later become SLA luminaries in their own right – Peter Robinson, John Norris, and Lourdes Ortega, come to mind. Mike Long’s ability to organize graduate programs into research centers was one of his most salient talents. Mike, as the Head of School at SLLC, soon built Maryland’s SLA program into one that was ranked among the top ten international programs. Maryland’s SLA success has, with little exaggeration, been built on the shoulders of this SLA giant.
Scholars like Mike Long come once in a generation. Many core areas of SLA research – the critical period, task-based SLA, the implicit-explicit acquisition distinction, and instruction based on research-based evidence, will be seen as originating from Mike Long’s decades of research. Personally, I can say that it has been an honor to have learned from, researched with, and worked for Mike Long during his remarkable career.
From Kyoko Kobayashi Hillman (university of British Columbia)
This was Mike: a great encourager with the warmest heart; a classy teacher with the highest standards of professionalism; someone full of wisdom and knowledge, not only in SLA, but also other areas, including Japan and Africa; a consistently hard worker, always aiming at the highest goals for himself; the strongest ally for L2 learners and his students; someone forward looking in SLA and his students’ futures; a very compassionate and generous person; a genuine, authentic, honest, and charming individual; one who loyally cared for people around him; a loving and proud husband and father (and dog owner); proudly British with American culturalisms; a great professor and human being. Mike is and will continue to be greatly missed by many people in the world, including myself. There are no words that can express how much gratitude I feel towards him. It was truly an honor to have closely worked with him.
From Ellen J. Serafini (George Mason University)
I owe Mike a debt of gratitude that cannot easily be put into words. Mike’s class was my first introduction to task-based language teaching (capital T). Every week I would take the metro from DuPont Circle in DC to Maryland with fellow students from Georgetown and ‘prepare’ for what were always engaging and humorous discussions featuring Mike’s encyclopedic knowledge and passion for evidence and informed debate. Little did I know then how profoundly that course and his thinking about learner needs and tasks would impact my own trajectory as a scholar and educator. Collaborating with him later on I realized that a) we did not agree on everything and b) I never learned how to properly use commas. Mike, thank you for inspiring and challenging us. You leave a ripple effect that will last generations. May you Rest In Peace.
From Robert DeKeyser (University of Maryland)
When I first met Michael Long at a conference in Philadelphia in 1989, I was nervous when I saw he was going to ask a question about my presentation. He was “Mr. SLA” after all, as I heard him being introduced at another conference. Little did I know that 15 or so years later, we would be colleagues in the same program, and I would get to know him better. I learned then that Mike was one of a kind, with an opinion about just about any issue, and passionate about a range of topics, from soccer to good wine, from Barcelona (the soccer, the cuisine, the wine, the art, the politics, the colleagues) to 17th century Dutch painting and jazz music. Above all, however, I will remember his love for Cathy and Jordi, and the pride he took in Jordi’s accomplishments in school, and of course… soccer! Even though we had rather different views on SLA, we were able to discuss them productively – I may even teach a TBLT course someday. We talked politics often, in the office or at dinner parties at various colleagues' homes, and the discussions were always very lively, to the point that sometimes it was hard to get a word in edgewise. It was beyond imagination that this would all come to an end so quickly. You will be sorely missed, Mike, but you will live on in our memories, and your legacy will live on in SLA for as long as that discipline exists.
From Eric Pelzl
Nearly a decade before I ever met Mike, he changed the trajectory of my life. Reading his book “Problems in SLA” showed me that language teaching involved profound philosophical issues, and engaging intellectual puzzles with real-world consequences. It energized me as a language teacher and inspired me to think about PhD studies in SLA. I am deeply grateful for the chance I had to take his classes and get to know him beyond the articles and books. He earned my respect not only as an SLA expert, but as a generous human being with deeply-felt moral principles. Mike had an enviable talent for conversation, and talking with him—in classrooms, offices, or hallways—was always meaningful, often hilarious, and never dull. The visits to Mike and Cathy’s home were some of the highlights of my PhD years. I am so sad to say good-bye.
From Roger Gilabert (University of Barcelona)
Mike Long was a source of inspiration to many of us. He was one of the most respected scholars in the second language acquisition field that he contributed to elevate to a serious field of research with his enormous impetus and larger-than-life force. He was a great source of inspiration to many of us in the field, and he generously helped and encouraged many of us to initiate our academic careers. Whether he was talking about jazz, Barça, Durruti, or the age factor, his passion and love of informed argument was unfathomable. There is almost no single class in my TBLT course when I do not mention his work, and so he will for ever stay in my memory.
From Charlene Polio (Michigan State University)
Many, many years ago, when I was an undergraduate linguistics major, a mere junior, at the University of Pennsylvania, I knocked on a professor’s door to ask if I could take his graduate TESOL methods class. Sure, he said. I was captivated (and a little terrified) from day one when he had us do an info gap activity in Spanish. He spoke of language teaching as a science and envisioned a center, like the CDC he said, for language teaching. He was starting to think about tasks as a unit for language teachers. The following semester, I took his English for Specific Purposes class and looked forward to my senior year with him. Alas, he left for Hawaii, but I enrolled in the MA program and followed in his footsteps to get my PhD at UCLA. The effect Michael H. Long had on my life cannot be overstated. He praised a paper that I had written, and that’s when I knew I was up to the job, as he did not give compliments freely. Thank you, and RIP.
From Jiyong Lee
No words can fully express how sad I am, but I'd just like to say a few words to honor Mike.
I have had the honor to be Mike's student for 7.5 years at UMD, and he was the one who taught me about responsibility as a scholar and a mentor. When I was working on my first QP, we were talking about how the design of the experiment may have led to unexpected findings. He said to me, "I take full responsibility for this, because I was the PI". I had never heard any other professor say anything close to that to me before, and since then, I have vowed to become a mentor like him to my students. I am grateful to have known and befriended Mike during my time at UMD. I am going to miss him very VERY much.
I am sharing a few pictures of Mike after my dissertation defense and at my graduation ceremony In the galley page). You can tell he had an absolutely fantastic time at the commencement.. I'm going to miss his jokes and his sarcasm so much.
From Àngels Llanes
I first met Mike when I did my first research stay at the UMD. I went to his office to meet him and thank him for hosting me at the UMD (I knew he liked wine so I had brought a whole box of wine from Catalonia for him) and the first thing I saw was a huge Barça flag in his office. As a Barça supporter, I knew we would get along :-) Then I started telling him about my research and I still remember the sentence he told me: "Important stuff first" and then we started talking about Barça and Barcelona, or Mecca as he called it. He and Cathy organized several meals in their beautiful house, we ate delicious food and we had a wonderful time and met several people. This was just the first of many experiences we shared. We spent some time in Barcelona (sorry, Mecca!) and then also in Andorra, where Jordi attended a Barça soccer camp. I always enjoyed their company, I liked Mike's sense of humor. Mike has definitely had an impact in my life. He'll always be in my memory.
From Gisela Granena
Mike was one of a kind. He was able to leave an imprint in everything and everyone. He was able to change things and change lives. And he changed mine. Thanks to him, what started as a short three-month long visiting scholarship in the US ended up as a seven-year long stay, with MA, PhD, and postdoc included. I remember the start of the semester gatherings in Silver Spring (at the ranch, as he used to say), how he would always welcome students with a glass of the finest wine already at the door and how Goretti and I were the only two who would always (politely) decline, upon which he would always reply “Show me your Spanish IDs!” I remember his lectures in Jimenez Hall at UMD and how they helped me understand SLA (and so many other things in the SLA field) in such a crystal clear way. He always taught us much more than SLA with passion, conviction and humor. I remember his activism and how he involved us, his students, in projects such as the CASA de Maryland one to help the Latino community in Silver Spring developing a TBLT program tailored to immigrants’ needs. The weekly meetings at CASA de Maryland were taking place late in the evening after a long working day for all of us, but Mike would never miss a single one. He believed in what he did and showed us how SLA could make a better world. Mike left us but will continue to inspire us.
From Yana Carver (Graduate of the SLA program at UMD)
I knew Dr. Long for just 2 brief years while working on my M.A. degree at UMD. I did not realize I'd be learning from the best in the field when I joined this program. Taking classes and learning from Dr. Long was such an honor, and I feel lucky to have had this chance. Our classes and discussions with Dr. Long were always lively and stimulating. He cared deeply about his students, remembered all of the graduates' names and spoke so highly of them. He had a brilliant mind and a gentle heart. I will miss his sharp sense of humor and wit! He applied it generously in classes and when grading our papers :-) I'll treasure my term papers filled with his hand-written notes, and yes, so many of those notes were about those missing commas. May you Rest in Peace, Dr. Long. Our memory and admiration of you will only grow stronger with time, and we will miss you dearly at UMD and in the SLA field.
From Julio Torres (University of California, Irvine)
One of the best seminars I took during my PhD work at Georgetown was “SLA Theory and Change” with Mike at the University of Maryland. I left every class so energized to do research. He pushed us to do quality research that advanced SLA theory and his uncompromising commitment to empirically-based pedagogy was so inspiring. Needless to say, his class transformed me as a researcher and language pedagogue. I was amazed when he mailed the paper I wrote for his class with feedback in an envelope (in true Mike’s style :) from Barcelona to Washington, DC. My work would not be possible without Mike's critical contributions to the field! Thank you, Mike! May you Rest In Peace!
From Katie Nielson (Voxy EnGen]
I first met Mike when he interviewed me to be a PhD student at the University of Maryland, just after he arrived from Hawaii. I was struck by his sense of humor, his down-to-earth manner, and his encyclopedic knowledge of SLA research. After I took my first TBLT class with him, I was hooked, and I was fortunate enough to benefit from his mentorship and wise counsel over the (many) years it took me to finish my degree.
Mike not only taught me how to conduct a needs analysis, he taught me that you should seize opportunities when they arise, even if they require you to bring your seven week old baby to a desert to conduct a needs analysis. Despite his efforts and copious amounts of feedback, I have never learned to use commas to his satisfaction, but I will keep trying.
Mike was a wonderful professor, mentor, and friend, and the world is a sadder place without him in it.
From Missy Baralt [via FB] (Florida International University)
I am completely stunned tonight by the news of Dr. Mike Long’s passing. A former professor, mentor, friend— Mike mentored me on everything Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT), especially #TBLT needs analyses and program-level evaluations. He counseled me on each step of the FIU-Qingdao Spanish program set-up with
José Manuel Morcillo. His books on needs analysis in TBLT and TBLT and SLA are key readers for my teacher-training courses. He also always harped on me for my apparently erroneous lack of comma usage (I’m going to miss those critiques). What an impact he had on our field. He will be so very missed.
From Rhona Oliver [via FB] (Curtin University, Perth)
[ Commenting on Mike's passion for the correct use of commas]. My thank you card post PhD to him involved Dear Mike followed by multiple commas, thank you and more commas before my name - he laughed uproariously.
I still can't believe my good fortune to be supervised by by him during my PhD - he was so generous.
He also set unbelievably high expectations and would challenge me to justify my position, but at the same time was incredibly supportive. He pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable. And the audacity - it was because of his encouragement that my first sole published paper was in SSLA. How naive I was - but also how lucky. He had a wicked sense of humour and an eidetic memory - I mean who remembers full citations in a presentation? One time when I was auditing a class he forgot the publisher's name - I happened to have the reference list in front of me. I said "I think you'll find that was Blackwell Press". I moved my hand too quickly - he give me one of his looks and said "And when you can do that by rote, I'll be impressed" - it was my turn to laugh out loud.
And my favourite photo was of him standing next to Noam Chomsky. Mike I will be forever grateful. RIP.
From: Marta González-Lloret (University f Hawaii)
Mike was my first professor at the SLA department in Hawaii. I loved his class so much that I decided to do my PhD in SLS. He has always been a strong influence in my academic work, although I don't think I ever convinced him that technology had a place in TBLT.
However, my favorite memories of Mike are not academic. One my favorites is the time we had mussels and beer/wine at 10:00 am after we landed in Leuven for the 2005 TBLT Conference (picture in the Gallery page). I gave up my upgraded seat to sit with him in the very back of the plane and catch up. It was the shortest transatlantic flight I have ever had. I loved listening to his stories and all the news of the soccer world.
Although I did not get to see him often, I will treasure my visits to DC (always involving amazing food, much good wine, great conversation, and a stayover). I will miss him greatly!