Christine Nuttall obituary

Joanna Baines

My aunt, Christine Nuttall, who has died aged 89, worked for four decades in the field of teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), in eight countries across the world. Her influential book, Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language, remains an essential text for both TEFL students and teachers.

Born in Holcombe Brook, near Bury, Lancashire (now Greater Manchester), she was the daughter of Alfred Nuttall, a stockbroker, and Marjorie (nee Broome), a teacher. Alfred died of pneumonia when she was five and her sister, Barbara, was one.

Chris attended Bury grammar school, before studying English and philosophy at St Andrews University, graduating in 1953. She followed this with an MA in linguistics at Manchester University.

Chris’s career in TEFL began in the 1950s when she worked in Finland for a year, teaching English to adults and learning Finnish. That experience fuelled her love of travel and diverse cultures. Wherever she went, she immersed herself in the local culture. Following her year in Finland, she spent four years in Nigeria lecturing in English, and studying the Hausa language.

At the beginning of the 1960s, Chris joined the British Council, and was appointed ELO (English language officer), for Nigeria. In 1969 she was posted to Milan for a year. This was followed in the 1970s by ELO postings in Ghana and Iran.

In 1978 she became ELO in Malaysia, where she spent six years and made many enduring friendships. She also spent some time in China and in Namibia. She was appointed OBE in 1982.

In 1985 Chris was seconded to the University of Edinburgh as lecturer in the department of applied linguistics. She was also director of the university’s MSc in English language teaching. She retired in 1989.

Chris bought a cottage in the rural valley of Woodland near Broughton-in-Furness, south Cumbria, in 1966 at an auction. She loaned it to friends for holidays while she was abroad but went to live there when she retired from the British Council. Her passions were international cuisine and opera. She was also a keen ornithologist, loved nature and was on the development committee for the Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

She is survived by Barbara, her two nieces, Judy and me, and a nephew, Bill.