David Nunan has been an expatriate for much of his professional life. He has lived and worked in many countries, including Australia, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Japan, Oman, the United States and Singapore. He received the United States Congressional Award for Services to Education in 2015.

For the last 25 years he has lived and worked in Hong Kong, where he is Professor Emeritus of Applied Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong. He has published over 30 books on linguistics, culture and education. His textbook series Go For It is a number one best-seller, with worldwide sales exceeding 4 billion copies.