When he taught teachers of English as a second language, Dennis L. Godfrey told them to teach more than languages.

"They must foster new behaviors," Mr. Godfrey told an interviewer in 1998.

If their students "had always been to [a] school where you learned by rote, where speaking up was rude and challenging a teacher was unthinkable, you'd need a lot of help before you were ready for the rough and tumble of class discussion."

Mr. Godfrey, 71, associate professor of linguistics at West Chester University since 1987, died Tuesday, March 6, of cancer at his Downingtown home. He had been on medical leave since the beginning of the academic year.

His wife, Sandra, said in a phone interview that at West Chester, he had directed the linguistics program since 1987 and, until the early 2000s, had directed the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages program.

Mr. Godfrey was not a teacher of languages.

He was a teacher of American teachers and a teacher of foreign students who, as teaching assistants, would help teach American students.

Cheri Micheau, a West Chester faculty colleague, said via e-mail, "Dennis was a longtime member of the English Language Learner Task Force, a statewide lobbying organization" of teachers and others.

Micheau said the organization, of which Mr. Godfrey was a leader, "brought about significant change in the education of immigrant students in public schools."

It pressed for "more equitable school budgeting" for English as a second language programs and "more rigorous standards and assessments" of both programs and students, Micheau said.

He was, she wrote, "a treasured colleague and teacher."

In summers from 1990 through 1997, Mr. Godfrey was one of two teachers in a four-week summer program at Drexel University that prepared foreign-born graduate students as teaching assistants.

Barbara Hoekje, director of the English Language Center at Drexel, said in a phone interview the foreign students "were teaching undergraduates in math, science, and business while they themselves were graduate students in those areas."

Born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Mr. Godfrey earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Northern Iowa in 1963.

Mr. Godfrey taught English at Thomas Jefferson Senior High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from 1963 to 1970.

He began his college career by teaching linguistics at the University of Minnesota from 1976 to 1979 before becoming an assistant professor of English at what is now the University of Texas-Pan American until 1981.

Mr. Godfrey earned a master's degree in 1971 and a doctorate in 1986, both in linguistics and both at the University of Michigan.

While earning that doctorate, he taught English as a second language from 1985 to 1987 at the Windom Community Education Center in Minneapolis.

In addition to his wife of 23 years, Mr. Godfrey is survived by a son, David; a daughter, Barbara Godfrey; stepdaughters Callie Ockerman and Elizabeth Prugh; and four grandchildren.

A memorial service was set for 11 a.m. Saturday, April 21, at St. Peter's Church in the Great Valley, 2475 St. Peter's Rd., Malvern.

Contact Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.