Teaching and capacity building
I am Programme Leader for the MA TESOL In-Service at IOE--UCL's Faculty of Education and Society, University College London. The proramme 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 virtually taught Language Testing to EdD students and Classroom-based Evaluation to MA students from around the world. I have participated in an invited panel of world leading experts on topics in educational assessment to MA students at the University of Cambridge (2022). Since 2023, I have contributed a seminar on language and improving diversity in health research participation to doctoral fellows at the Wellcome Trust funded Leicestershire Healthcare Inequalities Improvement. Prior to completing my PhD in 2011, I taught a second language acquisition course to undergraduate students at the Université de Montréal and a graduate-level pronunciation and communication course at McGill University in Canada.
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 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 (2016-21)
● 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 5 PhD vivas: University of Nottingham (2014); University of Bedfordshire (2015); Lancaster University (2019), Radboud University, Netherlands (2022), Birkbeck University of London (2023)
● Internal examiner for 7 doctoral candidacy exams (upgrades) and 4 PhD vivas; Bristol, IOE & UCL 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)
● Judith Fairbairn. Raters’ perceptions of B2 level on-topic performance in a general proficiency speaking language task. Secondary supervisor: Dr Ana Pellicer-Sanchez. PhD supported by the British Council.
Kelly, K., Richardson, M., & Isaacs, T. (2022). Critiquing the “intrinsic validity” argument for comparative judgement: A call for evidence. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice. [Open access link]
● 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.
Liang, H., Reiss, M. J., & Isaacs, T. (2023). Factors affecting physicians’ attitudes towards patient-centred care: A cross-sectional survey in Beijing. BMJ Open, 13:e073224. [Open access link]
● Shiva Taheri. Uplifting the standard of monitoring in clinical trials: Developing evidence and tools. Supported by a Medical Research Council (MRC) research studentship funded through UCL's MRC Clinical Trials Unit. Primary supervisor: Sharon Love.
● Shishi Zhang. Assessing second language pragmatic competence for intercultural communication: The case of pre-sessional students in UK higher education. Supported by a Secondary supervisor: Professor Li Wei. Supported by a British Council Assessment Research Award and an Asian Association for Language Assessment Student Award (AALA). Recipient of the AALA Best Student Paper.
Zhang, S., & Isaacs, T. (2023). Can interactions happen across the screens? The use of videoconferencing technology in assessing second language pragmatic competence. In K. Sadeghi (Ed.), Language assessment at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic (pp. 196-211). Routledge.
PhD committee membership
Doctoral students supervised at University of Bristol (2012-16)
Alumni (* symbol designates role as sole or primary supervisor)
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
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. Currently Lecturer in Japanese at University of Central Lancashire.
*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.
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.
Noor, N. M., Love, S. B., Isaacs, T., Kaplan, R., Parmar, M. K. B., & Sydes, M. R. (2022).Uptake of the multi-arm multi-stage (MAMS) adaptive platform approach for late-phase randomised clinical trials: A trial-registry review of late-phase randomised clinical trials. BMJ Open. [Open access link]
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.
*Johnathan Jones (PhD UCL, 2022). A reliable pest or a reliable past? Testing canonical stimuli in speech perception research. Currently Lecturer in Language Learning and Assessment at University of Bedfordshire.
Jones, J., & Isaacs, T. (2022). Assessing second language pronunciation. In H. Moehebbi, C. Coombe (Eds.), Research questions in language education: A reference guide for teachers (pp. 305-310). Springer.
Talia Isaacs, PhD
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"--the first time that a former recipient of the award (Isaacs, 2007) 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 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]
Tsang, C. L., & Isaacs, T. (2021). Students’ attitudes, reported behaviours, and learning opportunities linked to choosing which difficulty level to take for a high-stakes test: What are the explanations? OASIS Summary of Tsang, C. L., & Isaacs, T. (2021) in Language Testing. [Open access link]
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.
Former MA Applied Linguistics student, Pasha Blanda, received a commendation for the 2022 ELT Masters Award, entitled Application of the construct of coherence to diagnostic testing in English medium instruction in higher education.