Jan 292016

I greatly value the work of many ESP authors and researchers and I must write about them elsewhere. But this post is about the very special David Cotton, who has been a leading light in Business ELT for as long as I can remember. Way back before anyone else I can think of, David had the idea that Business English is so much more than job specific vocabulary. For David it’s about people, creativity and ideas – and of course – clear communication.

And I think that’s the great gift David has given ESP – the ability to get countless Business English classes talking and communicating like never before.

When David stumbled across case studies back in the 1970s, it was a light bulb moment for him. And since then, with his help and the many courses he’s written (such as the seminal Market Leader), it’s been a light bulb moment for countless Business English teachers as well. Case studies don’t need to be daunting or complicated texts when David is writing them. Clear, punchy and a stimulating story is his style. David understands what gets minds engaged.

As a Business English writer myself, I admire and value his skills. But I’ve also had the special priviledge of being David’s colleague, travelling companion and friend. Back in the 1990s, when Business English was less well established than it is today, we worked together on a diploma and certificate level training course for Business English teachers at London Guildhall University (now London Metropolitan University). In many ways it was a distraction from our main jobs, and gosh it was hard work. But it was so rewarding. Some fantastic teachers who are now leaders in the business English field took that course, and it gives me (and I know for David too) huge pleasure to count them as my friends today.

But the biggest friend I made on that course was David Cotton himself. We were all trying to forge a new teacher training syllabus and we had to work out what to include or not. David was both a hard working muse and a staunch and loyal friend by our side and I can’t thank him enough for the help, support and fun he gave me.

I’ve made a lot of trips talking about books I’ve written and I’ve discovered my talks are generally so-so on Monday, I’m in the groove by Wednesday, but starting to flake by Friday. Catch me in week two and I’ve probably lost my voice and I’m starting to lose the plot a bit. Having a good friend at your side on long trips is a blessing, and to my mind, there is no better companion for a working tour than David. He’s nursed me through everything, from attacks of laryngitis to family crises, and he’s had me laughing my head off as we’ve struggled through crazy weather, bureaucracy, and intercultural misunderstandings. He’s been an inspiration and I love him with all my heart.

So what’s the latest? Well, David’s just sending his latest book to publishers, but this time it’s a kid’s story. Designed for 7-10 year olds, it’s an adventure book about a fearsome gangster and his team – Sneaky, Slinky, Slimey and Meanie. Will they suceed in driving grandpa and Jake outta town? Ha! As always, he’s got me hooked and I can’t wait to read it. Keep rocking, David!


I’m deeply sorry to report that David died this morning after bravely battling cancer. It was a peaceful death and he was surrounded by his family. Our heart goes out to his wife, son and daughter and his many dear friends.  

 Posted by at 8:30 pm

  3 Responses to “David Cotton”

  1. When exactly did David pass away, Vikki? Today 2 October, 2017?
    Sorry to read this news.
    Jean Stocker

  2. It was back in May 2016 I think Jean. Very sad. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

  3. Thanks Vicki. Yes, sad indeed.
    Great to see you’re still in business! I retired in 2011.
    All the best

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