Jack C Richards grew up in Gisborne, a small town on the east coast of the north island of New Zealand and has worked in many parts of the world, including New Zealand, Canada, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the US. After completing his PhD, in applied linguistics from Laval University (a French-Language University) in Quebec City, Canada, he taught in Indonesia and was then appointed a specialist in applied linguistics at the Regional Language Centre Singapore, under the auspices of the New Zealand Government.
Later he was senior lecturer in English at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, before being appointed professor in the Department of English as a Second Language at the University of Hawaii in 1981.
In 1989, Jack returned to Hong Kong to set up a new department of English at the City University of Hong Kong, where he was head of the department of English and also chair professor. In 1996, he returned to his home country for two years to set up an MA program at the University of Auckland. In 1999, he retired from full-time university teaching and administration and since then has taught for part of each year at the Regional Language Centre (RELC), in Singapore, while, until recently, making his primary residence in Sydney. At RELC, he teaches on the MA in Applied Linguistics, as well as the RELC Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Linguistics. His role with SSESW include giving public lectures in TESOL, running a teaching methodology workshop and providing consultancy to academic staff and research students.
Jack's classroom textbooks are used widely and have helped millions of students around the world learn English. These include Springboard, Person to Person, Tactics for Listening, Passages, and the best-selling series Interchange. For many years, he has made himself available as a speaker at professional conferences without a fee, and supported scholarship programs in different parts of the world.
In 2010, Jack was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by Victoria University, Wellington, in recognition of his contributions to English language teaching and the arts.
In March 2016 the International TESOL organisation, as part of its 50th anniversary, named him one of the 50 TESOL specialists worldwide to have made a significant impact on language teaching in the previous 50 years.