Approach to teaching and supervision
One metric of academic excellence is the degree of engagement in research-led teaching. My personal benchmark of teaching success is the ability to render complex ideas accessible and to encourage students’ independent thinking and critical engagement with the topic through a range of teaching approaches catering to diverse learning styles. I aspire to this in my approach to teaching graduate-level applied linguistics courses at the UCL Institute of Education, in leading workshops on educational assessment and academic integrity for university Faculty Education Directors and teaching staff, and on conducting professional development training on assessing productive skills for exam board staff (e.g., through the Association of Language Testers in Europe)

I was the beneficiary of high-quality research training as a graduate student in Canada. After moving to the UK to launch my academic career directly out of my PhD, I continued to benefit from mentoring from a new network of senior colleagues. As a result of these experiences, I strongly espouse a mentorship model with regard to the capacity building of postgraduate students. I supervise masters and doctoral students with overlapping research interests in applied linguistics, health communication, and educational assessment. I have a growing track-record of working with and training graduate student research assistants and postdoctoral researchers in all aspects of the research process through my externally funded projects.

Teaching and capacity building

I am 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 has a talented and dynamic group of current students and alumni. Alongside overseeing programme-related developments, I enjoy engaging with students though provision of academic guidance and pastoral care. I 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:

  • Teaching and Assessing Fluency and Pronunciation to MSc TESOL students [Link]
  • Questionnaire Design and Analysis to PhD students as part of the ESRC-funded Southwest Doctoral Training Centre [Link]
  • Second Language Pronunciation and Fluency to EdD TESOL students [Link]
  • Pedagogy and Curriculum in TESOL to MSc TESOL students 

I also taught courses in second language acquisition and pronunciation and communication at the Université de Montréal and McGill University in Canada before moving to the UK in 2011.

Academic service, teaching & learning
● Programme Leader, MA TESOL In-Service, UCL Institute of Education (2020-)
● Programme Leader, MA TESOL Pre-Service, UCL Institute of Education (2017-18)

● 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)

PhD students, UCL Institute of Education (since 2017)

​● Lais de Oliveira BorgesBeyond 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 [

● Sin Wang ChongLearning-oriented language assessment ecologies in and beyond EFL classrooms​. Second supervisor: Dr Jim McKinley.

​● 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.

​● Johnathan JonesA reliable pest or a reliable past? Testing canonical stimuli in speech perception research. Secondary supervisor: Professor ValerieHazan.

​​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.

​● Kate Kelly. Comparative judgement and the limits of cognition. PhD supported by Assessment & Qualifications Alliance (AQA). Primary supervisor: Professor Mary Richardson.

​​● Haiying LiangOptimizing 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.

​​​● ​Yee-Ni Tse (Cindy)The nature and impact of graded music examinations on instrumental teaching and learning in Hong Kong. Primary supervisor: Professor Graham Welch.

● ​Shishi Zhang. Assessing second language pragmatic competence for intercultural communication: The case of pre-sessional students in UK higher education. Secondary supervisor: Professor Li Wei.

PhD committee membership

● Abdelbaset HaridyWorld Englishes and international standardized testing: A study in the validity and score generalizability of accented tasks. University of New Mexico, US.

Doctoral students supervised at University of Bristol (2012-16)

● Olive Yuet Ying Cheung(EdD): Investigating the use of digital storytelling in an EFL speech-pronunciation classroom.

● Tony Clark (PhD): Relearning academic conventions: Intensive IELTS writing preparation in China and Japan. Funded by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) standard research studentship, a British Council Assessment Research Award, a Worldwide Universities Network Researcher Mobility Grant, and a Newton Fund scholarship. 

​● Merve Demiralp (PhD): Validation of second language proficiency tests through an argument-based approach: The C-Test for Turkish. Funded by a scholarship from the Turkish Ministry of Education.​​

● ​Adnan Mukhrib (PhD): The effect of task type on learner's performance: Comparing communicative tasks and consciousness-raising tasks in a Saudi secondary school. Funded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
​● ​Jane Nebe (PhD): Exploring lived experiences of failure in Nigeria's certificate examinations. Funded by a Commonwealth Scholarship and Research Support Grant.

​● ​Tanyapon Phongphio (PhD): ​Using debate principles as an educational tool in EFL speaking classes.

● ​​Sohaib Sandhu (EdD): Diagnostic listening assessment: A Saudi academic listening context.

● ​​Katsuya Yokomoto (EdD): A demographic survey of current English teachers’ experience, knowledge, confidence, interests, and beliefs: Pronunciation pedagogy in Japan. Funded by the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. 

● Joanna Wing Yan Yeung (EdD): The comparative impact and design improvement of simulation training in overcoming communication barriers in disclosing adverse events for nursing students in Hong Kong. Doctoral student grant recipient, Hong Kong Society for Simulation in Healthcare.

Masters and undergraduate supervision
● Supervised 27 Masters dissertations to completion in Bristol (2011-16) and 7 at the UCL Institute of Education (2017), 10 of which were awarded distinctions, 2 won the Carolyn Clapham IELTS Masters Award, 1 commended for the ELT Masters Dissertation Award 
● Co-supervised 1 undergraduate summer student intern funded by a university cross-faculty award, Bristol (2015)  

Alumni (* symbol designates role as sole or primary supervisor)


Talia Isaacs, PhD​


Chi Lai Tsang at LTRC 2019 with Barry O'Sullivan, British Council (right) and Nick Saville, Cambridge Assessment English (left). Photo credit: Gad Lim

Talia (left) and Hyunjin Kim (right) at LTRC 2016. Photo credit: Carolyn Turner


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]

*​Yen-Lun (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.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​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.

Tsang, C.- L., & Isaacs, T. (2021). Hong Kong secondary students' perspectives on selecting test difficultly level and learner washback: Effects of a graded approach to assessment. Language Testing​. [Open access link] [Press release]

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. Read her testimonialabout the MA TESOL In-Service programme for experienced language teachers at UCL.

Trofimovich, P., Isaacs, T. Kennedy, S., & Tsunemoto, A. (in press). Speech comprehensibility. In T. M. Derwing, M. J. Munro, & R. I. Thomson, The Routledge handbook of second language acquisition and L2 speaking. Routledge.