Ruth Wajnryb, Ph.D.Ruth Wajnryb, Ph.D.

Former Professor Emeritus TESOL and Graduate School of Education Associate Dean

A distinguished linguist known for her theory on "Dictogloss", Dr. Ruth Wajnryb served as the word/language columnist for Australia's leading newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald.

Dr. Wajnryb received her Ph.D. in Education/Linguistics from Macquarie University and her MA in Applied Linguistics from the University of Sydney. Former Head of TESOL Teacher Education at the University of New South Wales's Institute of Languages, Professor Wajnryb held a variety of teaching and consulting positions and authored a number of teacher training and Intercultural Studies textbooks for Cambridge University Press and Melting Pot Press. Prof. Wajnryb taught the courses Classroom Management & Observation, Phonology for Language Teachers and Program Evaluation in Language Education for AU's MA in TESOL degree program.

Message from Ruth Wajnryb, Ph.D. (1999)

Welcome! I am delighted to be on board for this exciting journey and to able to participate in a process of discovery made possible by technology and intellectual creativity. My association with Dr Nunan goes back some twenty years but this is the first time I have had the opportunity and pleasure to work with him. This MA in TESOL is a learning opportunity offering a unique blend of quality ingredients:

Students are able to interact with ideas, both theoretically and practically oriented, with other students in a wide range of professional contexts, and with tutors who bring many years of experience in language teacher education.

I have worked in TESOL for close to thirty years, in both English-speaking locations and internationally. My broad interests relate to the mediating role of language in social contexts. Professionally, I have worked for many years in teacher education, initially in pre-service training and more recently and very diversely, in teacher development. Parallel to these activities, I have an ongoing publishing role, having written books of language materials and teacher training materials. I currently consult with a large number of universities in Australia for whom I write curriculum, develop resources, and train staff.

My twin passions are language and education. I am interested in how teachers think and how their thinking impacts on their decision-making in classrooms; in how they develop and what landmarks they pass through on their pathway of development. I love classrooms, am enthralled by classroom discourse, and am fascinated by the criss-crossing of the processes of teaching and learning in all situations and contexts. These interests lead me into pathways like methodology, quality teacher education, discourse research, second language acquisition, and the domain of teacher education supervision and its discourse. On the journey that AU offers, I hope both to contribute and to continue learning.

Publications and Presentations


  • 2007. Cheerio Tom Dick and Harry. Despatches from the Hospice of Fading Words. Allen and Unwin: Sydney. (forthcoming)
  • 2006. Australian Place Name Stories. Lothian Books: Sydney
  • 2005. Funtionary. A cheeky collection of contemporary words. Lothian Books:Sydney.
  • 2005. Away with Words. A Frolic through the Landscape of Language. ABC Books: Sydney.
  • 2004. Language Most Foul. Allen and Unwin: Sydney. Republished in USA as Expletive Deleted. A good look at bad language, 2005. Free Press: New York. Republished in UK as C U Next Tuesday. A good look at bad language. Aurum: London, 2004.
  • 2001. The Silence. How Tragedy Shapes Language. Allen and Unwin:Sydney
  • 2000. Travel and Tourism. (Working in English Series). MacMillan LanguageHouse: Sydney
  • 1992. Classroom Observation Tasks. A Resource Book for language teachers and trainers. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge..
  • 1991. Other Voices. A cross-cultural communication workbook. Thomas Nelson: Melbourne.
  • 1990, 2005. Grammar Dictation (Resource Books for Teachers). Oxford University Press: Oxford.
  • 1990. Afterthoughts. Voices frpom Australian Radio (with Carol Green). Melting Pot Press: Sydney
  • 1989. Profiles. A photo-activity resource. Melting Pot Press: Sydney.
  • 1988. Grammar Workout (2). Melting Pot Press: Sydney
  • 1986. Grammar Workout (1). Melting Pot Press: Sydney

Academic articles, conference papers, reviews

500 (approx) articles/conference/papers/reviews, in local, national and international journals/forums. Topic areas: education, language, research and training.

Media: print and radio

Freelance writing for newspapers + magazines, over 15 years, mostly on topics related to language. Weekly column in SMH literary supplement. Sydney radio weekly spots: Wordsmith (Vega 95.3) Words on Wednesday (Eastside Radio 89.7). Queensland ABC Regional (syndicated): Monday Drive

Click here to see a Tribute to Dr. Ruth Wajnryb