To all practitioners

Tessa Woodward



Who is she?

Tessa Woodward was born in Exmouth, England, in 1949.

Tessa is an internationally renowned figure in ELT - and HLT - who has made an enormous contribution to teaching and teacher training. She has provided outstanding support to teachers and students all over the world throughout her career, not only through her creativity and expertise, in terms of practical ideas and resources, but also on an emotional level, with tremendous empathy and understanding of the trials and tribulations that teachers and students experience on a daily basis.

She has published numerous books and articles on language teaching, was President of IATEFL (2005-2006) and in 2018 was awarded the British Council´s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her contribution to the teaching profession. She is a committed supporter of gender fairness, founding The Fair List, UK, Award in 2013, and she possesses an innate curiosity which has ensured her constant quest for knowledge and overall self-improvement.

Professional life

After starting her teaching career in London in the mid-seventies, Tessa became a teacher trainer, working first in Japan and then in Switzerland. In 1985, she took up a post as Professional Development Co-ordinator at Hilderstone College in Broadstairs, Kent, a position she held until 2016. Shortly after arriving at Hilderstone, Tessa founded The Teacher Trainer Journal for Pilgrims in Canterbury, and remained its editor until 2020. The journal was - and is - distinguished not only by discussion and debate on all aspects of teacher training in ELT, but by the way in which it encouraged its readers to look beyond the concerns of ELT training, and to learn about and learn from the experiences of trainers in other fields beyond language teaching - and beyond teaching.

In one of her earliest articles in The Teacher Trainer, Tessa introduced the concept of ‘loop input’, a phrase and an idea that very soon became part of the professional discourse of many trainers and designers of training courses. Loop input (sometimes called reflexive input) describes the principle behind training activities where a strategy or a technique is conveyed to trainees by having them experience it rather than learning about it. Instead of being told about a particular classroom practice - jigsaw reading, for example - trainees are given a jigsaw reading activity to carry out where the text is about jigsaw reading. An elegantly simple training concept, but one which has had a huge influence on the design and delivery of teacher training courses. Tessa developed the idea in a book called Loop Input, published in 1988 by Pilgrims and subsequently elaborated in Models and Metaphors in Language Teacher Training (Cambridge University Press 1991). Another highly influential book of Tessa’s which began as a Pilgrims Longman publication was Planning from Lesson to Lesson, which again was expanded in a broader survey of planning options in ELT, Planning Lessons and Courses  (Cambridge University Press 2001).

From the 1990s onwards, Tessa has been an occasional lecturer at the Universities of Brighton, Durham and Exeter. Her Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Council was in recognition of her entire career, which encompassed the founding of The Teacher Trainer, her presidency of IATEFL, and the founding of The Fair List.


Tessa now devotes most of her time to Tessa now devotes most of her time to developing her passion for creative writing and has just brought out her first full length book of fiction called ‘In the Middle of Somewhere’.

She lives with her husband, Seth Lindstromberg, in a small village in East Kent and enjoys walking in the countryside, gardening and trying to learn French and Welsh.  She is also a keen singer and an avid environmentalist and is even trying her hand at being a Wikipedia editor.

Biographical Sources

Tessa’s website

google scholar profile profile

Social Profiles


Tessa Woodward

Recommended books


Sylvia Ashton-Warner

1966, London: Penguin (source)

The Significance of Learners’ Errors.

Stephen Pit Corder

1967, International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching 5. pp. 161-170. (source)

Caring and Sharing in the Foreign Language Class

Gertrude Moskowitz

1978, Harlow: Longman ELT (source)

The Red Book of Groups: And How to Lead Them Better

Gale Houston

1990, Rochester Foundation. 3rd edition. (source)

Dialogue Journals: Interactive Writing to Develop Language and Literacy

Joy Kreeft Peyton

1993, National Clearinghouse on Literacy Education (source) (source 2)

Place in HLT

The very fact that Tessa Woodward has dedicated most of her career to ensuring that teachers are happy and passionate about their work, and capable of bringing out the best in themselves and each and every one of their students, is testimony to her wholehearted commitment to Humanistic Language Teaching.

Her innate sense of fairness and compassionate nature, along with her intelligent curiosity and creativity, have combined to touch the lives of many in the ELT and HLT communities, through her articles, course materials and lectures, not to mention the noteworthy achievement of founding The Fair List (

Throughout her career, Tessa Woodward has been involved in every aspect of language teaching, in many different countries and cultures around the world: herself as a learner, as a teacher, as a teacher trainer, as a trainer of teacher trainers, as well as a lecturer, author, editor and manager, and it is precisely this incredible breadth of experience, compounded with her empathy, that has made her an invaluable asset to the HLT community.

On a Personal Note…

Tessa has admitted that she feels much more comfortable away from the limelight and in characteristic fashion, agreed to embrace this project in order to showcase the importance of gender fairness and give due representation to women in the world of ELT at large, and HLT in particular.

The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.