When I finished my PhD in 2012, I was ready for the next step — the logical move into what might eventually be a “professorship”. However, to much of the general public, academia, especially amongst senior scholars, is unfortunately rather notorious as a place of immense debate and inaccessible “academicspeak”, which means the vast majority of scholarly books are encouched in rather difficult-to-understand jargon — making them not very accessible to the rest of the planet’s billions.

This is why I have constantly stressed the need for academics to come out of the classroom, laboratories, and libraries, and to serve the rest of society. To ensure that my academic involvements benefit as many people as possible, I have decided to be fully immersed with a wide variety of pro bono involvements.


My main area of pro bono involvements centre on the teaching of proper, standardised English in China.

In 2013, the first of these involvements included the Chinese national railway system. Beginning in 2014, city metro systems in that country were also included.

In 2015, they have been expanded, so that traffic and immigration authorities, and officially recognised volunteer groups at major international events in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, are included as well. Furthermore, public buses and trams now benefit from those pro bono involvements, in addition to national railways and the city metro network.


Due to the fact David is currently based in London, lessons for the Chinese railway systems have been suspended through to 15 December 2015, and their further availability is pending on definite schedules.

As a university academic, I am happy to, as part of my social commitments, combine my career with my interests, which include improving China’s rail English. It is my firm belief that not only are we capable of running trains at high speeds, but that we can also do this with equally good bilingual service.

I have spoken or otherwise taught English at the Harbin, Beijing, Chengdu, Taiyuan, Ji’nan, Shanghai and Nanning railway authorities for both station and train crew, and reception to these lessons have been positive. My improved rail English standards have been used at an increasing number of China’s stations. I author personalised railway English content for Ji’nan Rail, and also author the Everyday Rail English column on the national rail newspaper’s web site, People’s Railway Online. Including railway English, all of my rail-related contents have been retweeted by the national rail authorities, by all of China’s 18 mainland rail bureaus, as well as by individuals and organisations from rail car manufacturers, the rail academy, and Jitong Rail. Students learn not just the language, but also English language and culture.

Whilst expressing my gratitude for such wide social recognition, I would like to take this to the next level by offering personalised railway English lessons for all of China’s railway organisations. As a charitable commitment, all lessons are completely free.

To invite me to speak:

  • please let your railway organisation’s authorised representative arrange an initial invitation (to avoid duplicate requests);
  • let me know of possible times when I can speak;
  • tell me what kind of queries you often get from overseas guests;
  • tell me what issues you have that you want to solve the most;
  • give me a basic idea of how many people are coming;
  • for classes of over 20 people, reserve me a projector and a VGA connector, and 2 wireless hand-held microphones — one for me, and one for the audience for questions and comments at any time.

Please inform rail crew in your organisation about these lessons early. I like them to come to lessons well briefed, and ideally interested in me and the lessons.

I can easily pay for my trip (although if you MUST pay I will have no objections!). You are free to tweet, tape, and record the entirety of these sessions. To improve rail English, I ask you to use my standards — this is the best way to “dump Chinglish” and to get our railways bilingual the right way. If you have questions about rail English, feel free to ask. I did those standards, so if you use them and have problems, that’s my issue, not yours.

When I say rail English is “charitable and free”, I mean it. I absolutely do not require or expect gifts or renumeration of any kind — there is not even the need for a free meal. Every rail organisation receives exactly the same level of lessons.

Please remember, however, that I also have teaching commitments in and around Beijing. I’d love to be everywhere, but it’s best if you book me in ahead of time. And yes, I am free to speak to media both before, during, and after the lessons.