School of English

In Memoriam - Professor Zoltán Dörnyei

Zoltán Dörnyei

It is with great sadness that we pass on the news of the death of our friend and colleague, Professor Zoltán Dörnyei, who died after an illness on Friday 10 June 2022. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and all of us in the School of English.

Zoltán began as a language teacher for ‘International House’ in Budapest, before completing his PhD in Psycholinguistics at Eötvös Loránd University in 1989 with the thesis: ‘Psycholinguistic factors in foreign language learning’. He began teaching in the School of English and American Studies at Eötvös Loránd University in 1988. A decade later, he moved to the United Kingdom, working first at Thames Valley University, London, and then joining the School of English at the University of Nottingham in 2000. In 2003 he received a DSc. in Linguistics from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In 2017 Zoltán also completed a second PhD, this time in Theology from Durham University with the thesis: ‘Progressive creation and the struggles of humankind in the Bible: an experiment in canonical narrative interpretation’. He became Professor of Psycholinguistics in 2004.

In the School of English Zoltán’s work focused on how motivation affected the language learning process. As a lecturer he taught on modules explaining language learning and teaching English as a second language for undergraduate and postgraduate students. He also regularly conducted teacher training seminars and workshops, and spoke at many conferences for language teachers. He was the author of numerous books on language learning, Christian theology and research methods. His 2007 book, Research Methods in Applied Linguistics: Quantitative, Qualitative and Mixed Methodologies, is widely regarded as the key manual in the field. His applied linguistics books encompassed discipline-defining work as well as hands-on practical guides for teachers and fellow researchers. Zoltán was also regarded as a significant theologian and writer on the Christian life. His 2013 co-edited collection, Christian Faith and English Language Teaching and Learning, brought together the two sides of his thinking.

We have received a great number of messages of condolence from many former students of Zoltán’s recalling fond memories of inspirational lectures, kind and wise mentorship, and encouragement towards their own intellectual rigour. His legacy will remain not only in the major body of published work that he leaves for future scholars, but in the thousands of teachers worldwide he has influenced, and the language classrooms that have been changed under his inspiration. It is remarkable to witness the respect, admiration and love not only from his many former doctoral students but also from those who never met him yet were touched by his influence. This reach across the world will ensure the spirit of his work will long endure.

Posted on Monday 13th June 2022

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