Talia Isaacs, PhD
Talia (left) and Hyunjin Kim (right) at LTRC 2016. Photo credit: Carolyn Turner
Chi Lai Tsang at LTRC 2019 with Barry O'Sullivan, British Council (right) and Nick Saville, Cambridge Assessment English (left). Photo credit: Gad Lim
Former Bristol student, Hyunjin Kim, received the 2015 Caroline Clapham IELTS Masters Award, presented annually to the Master's-level dissertation in English "which makes the most significant contribution to the field of language testing." This is the first time that a former recipient of the award (Isaacs, 2007) has supervised a student winner. The IELTS Partners sponsored Hyunjin's trip to the Language Testing Research Colloquium (LTRC) in Palermo, Italy in June, 2016, where she received the award and winner's cheque.
Kim, H., & Isaacs, T. (2018). Teachers’ voices in the decision to discontinue a public examination reform: Washback effects and implications for utilizing tests as levers for change. In D. Xerri & P. Vella Briffa (Eds.), Teacher involvement in high stakes language testing (pp. 263–282). Berlin: Springer. [Link]
Former UCL Institute of Education MA Applied Linguistics student, Chi Lai (Heskey) Tsang, won the 2018 Carolyn Clapham IELTS Masters Award for his dissertation on washback, which received at the 2019 LTRC banquet in Altanta, USA. The dissertation was also commended for the 2018 ELT Masters Dissertation Award for research impact. Download his dissertation, entitled Examining washback on learning from a sociocultural perspective: The case of a graded approach to English language testing in Hong Kong.
Building on her masters dissertation at UCL on self- versus other-assessment of L2 pronunciation across tasks, former MA TESOL in-service student, Aki Tsunemoto, is recipient of major doctoral funding from the Japan Student Services Organization to support her PhD with Pavel Trofimovich at Concordia University, Canada.
Teaching and capacity building
I am currently Programme Leader for the MA TESOL In-Service at the UCL Institute of Education, University College London, which offers dedicated research and practical training for experienced language teachers, and previously served as Programme Leader for the MA TESOL Pre-service, which is the largest MA programme in our department. I designed and lead the popular Language Testing and Assessment module, which was offered for the first time at the UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics in 2017, and contribute to the Teaching and Researching Speaking and Listening module (in 2021), MA dissertation module, and supervision.
In 2020, I was appointed Associate Professor of TESOL at Anaheim University, USA, where I will teach a fully online course on Language Testing to EdD students and on Classroom-based Evaluation to MA students.
I have worked with English Language Centers on the alignment of language assessments (e.g., exit tests) with curricular goals and intended learning outcomes and my advice has been sought on university entrance examinations for proof of English language proficiency, including during the Coronavirus crisis. Beyond my university teaching, I regularly serve in an advisory capacity and conduct workshops on varied topics nationally and internationally to different stakeholder groups. Selected topics that I lead include assessing speaking, fluency and pronunciation teaching/learning/assessment, mixed methods research, marking systems, formative assessment, academic integrity, and rater moderation in higher education.
During my time at the University of Bristol (2011-16), I led for the below modules, the first three of which I designed:
● Advisor, Preparation for Academic Studies in Higher Education (PASHE) exit test and English proficiency admissions requirements, UCL Institute of Education (2017-)
● External examiner, MA in Language Testing (distance), Lancaster University, UK (2016-20)
● Panel member, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) mock review on assessment, University of Bristol (2015)
● External panel member, MA in Applied Linguistics (Language Testing) program approval, University of Bedfordshire (2015)
● External examiner for 3 PhD vivas, University of Nottingham (2014); University of Bedfordshire (2015); Lancaster University (2019)
● Internal examiner for 7 doctoral candidacy exams (upgrades) and 4 PhD vivas; Bristol, UCL Institute of Education & Medical School (2011-)
● Led departmental response to Bristol Institutional principles for assessment and feedback in taught programmes (2015)
● Academic representative, UKEN-EDM and British Council student recruitment fairs, Seoul, South Korea (2014)
● Lais de Oliveira Borges. Beyond the Critical Period Hypothesis: Examining the affective dimensions of phonological performance within Brazilian L2 learning contexts. PhD supported by a UCL Graduate Research Scholarship. Primary supervisor: Professor Andrea Revesz.
Borges, L. O., & Isaacs, T. (2018a). Developing a second language comprehensibility scale to measure academic speaking. OASIS Summary [Link]
Borges, L. O., & Isaacs, T. (2018b). Which linguistic aspects influence listeners’ comprehensibility of non-native speech. OASIS Summary [Link]
● Judith Fairbairn. Raters’ perceptions of B2 level on-topic performance in a general proficiency speaking language task. PhD supported by the British Council. Secondary supervisor: Dr Ana Pellicer-Sanchez.
Jones, J., & Isaacs, T. (in press). Assessing second language pronunciation. In H. Moehebbi, C. Coombe (Eds.), Research questions in language education: A reference guide for teachers. Berlin: Springer.
● Haiying Liang. Optimizing English for medical purposes (EMP) courses offered to medical students in China based on needs analysis: A case study at Peking University. Primary supervisor: Professor Michael Reiss.
● Nuru Noor. Improving trial conduct for late-phase, randomised clinical trials that utilise innovative trial designs and platforms. Supported by a Medical Research Council (MRC) research studentship funded through UCL's MRC Clinical Trials Unit. Primary supervisor: Professor Matt Sydes.
● Shishi Zhang. Large scale assessment of pragmatic competence for international communication in English: Framework and design. Secondary supervisor: Professor Li Wei.
PhD committee membership
Recently supervised doctoral students, University of Bristol (2012-16)
Alumni (* symbol designates role as sole or primary supervisor)
A Young Park (PhD Bristol, 2015): A comparison of the effects of extensive and intensive reading approaches on the reading fluency, vocabulary knowledge and attitudes of Korean secondary EFL learners.
Park, A. Y., Isaacs, T., & Woodfield, H. (2018). A comparison of the effect of extensive and intensive reading approaches on the vocabulary development of Korean secondary EFL learners. Applied Linguistics Review, 9,113–134. [Download]
*Helen Tan (EdD Bristol, 2016): The effects of planning time and test-taking strategies in Taiwanese EFL learners’ speaking performance on the TOEFL iBT integrated task. Supported by anAlumni Foundation Travel Award.
Chisa Matsukawa(PhD Bristol, 2017): Politeness in British English and Japanese: A contrastive study of invitation sequences from a pragmatic-discursive approach.
*Hassan Qutub (EdD Bristol, 2017): Arab EFL teachers’ degree of foreign accent: Peer- and self-perceptions of accented speech and views of pronunciation corrective feedback. Funded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Yui Suzukida. (PhD UCL, 2021). The roles of cognitive and socio-psychological individual differences in the effectiveness of explicit phonetic instruction in second language pronunciation development. Supported by a PhD dissertation grant from the journal, Language Learning.