David Bunton was born in Melbourne but lived in Hong Kong and Guangzhou as a pre-school child. His primary schooling was in Newcastle, NSW, and most of his secondary schooling in Hong Kong. He matriculated in Melbourne and did his BA (English and French) at Melbourne University. After two years’ national service, he went overseas again, spending a year working in France and then 35 years working in Asia, particularly Hong Kong.

For 13 years he worked with an NGO now known as Initiatives of Change, re-learning Cantonese and some Putonghua / Mandarin. He then did a Grad.Dip.Ed in Canberra (ESL and Foreign Languages) in order to teach in Hong Kong secondary schools.

During 25 years in Hong Kong education, he taught for five years in secondary schools. He worked with the British Council on the first two years of a scheme to bring native-speaking English teachers into Hong Kong schools, and for five years at the Institute of Language in Education, providing in-service refresher courses for experienced English teachers. He completed an M.Ed on language in education and a Ph.D in applied linguistics, and for 15 years was a lecturer, then associate professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong.

Over many of those years he also worked with the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, as an oral examiner for the HKCE English exam and then chief examiner for two different papers of the HKAL Use of English exam.

As well as academic papers, he has written English textbooks for Pearson / Longman. His 1989 book Common English Errors in Hong Kong has sold over 200,000 copies, and the new edition of 2010 plus the 2011 sequel More Common English Errors in Hong Kong have four times as much material explaining over 1,100 problems that Chinese learners have with English vocabulary and grammar, including the influence that their native Cantonese language may have on the errors.

He now lives in South Australia, where he has married landscape artist Helen Stacey. He collaborates on some of her art projects, including his song People’s Forest (Kuitpo Forest) for the Forest of Dreams exhibition at Mt Gambier in 2012, and his song Australian Islander Tribute (see Blackbirding page) for their exhibition Australian Reflections on Blackbirding that toured to Beaudesert, Queensland, in 2013, Levuka, Fiji, in 2014, the Vanuatu National Library & Archives in 2015, and the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, UniSA, Adelaide in 2018, in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Council of South Australia.

Together they operate Almond Grove Bed & Breakfast with an oriental-themed studio apartment in their garden.

He visits Hong Kong regularly to provide educational consultancies to schools and to facilitate thesis-writing workshops for the Graduate School of Hong Kong University.