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Dr Talia Isaacs

Dr Talia Isaacs

Dr Talia Isaacs
BA, MA, PhD (McGill University), PgCert (Bristol)

Research Fellow

Helen Wodehouse Building,
35 Berkeley Square, Clifton BS8 1JA
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 4312


Second language speaking and listening; Pronunciation assessment and instruction; Rating scales and rater processes; Mixed methods research; Form-focused instruction; Language for Specific and Academic Purposes; Cross-cultural communication


Talia Isaacs joined the University of Bristol as a Lecturer in Education after completing her PhD at McGill University, Canada in 2011, was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2014, and was appointed as an Honorary Research Fellow in 2016. She currently works at the UCL Institute of Education, University College London. Her research centres on second language (L2) assessment (particularly of pronunciation and fluency), with a focus on the development and validation rating scales, the alignment between rater perceptions and L2 speech productions, and oral communication breakdowns and strategies in workplace and academic settings. Burgeoning interests include health (particularly doctor-patient) communication, automated scoring of speech, and helping learners and assessors calibrate their performances through feedback provision. 

During her employment at the University of Bristol (2011-16), Talia founded and directed the Second Language Speech Lab, a sound-attenuated research facility which uses state-of-the-art audio technology to capture and analyse speech samples and to train people to assess the speech in a purpose-built environment. Her research has attracted funding from the European Commission on identifying the linguistic factors that promote comprehensible speech, from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada on the validation of an L2 speaking scale for formative assessment purposes, and from the British Council on distinguishing between upper levels of the IELTS pronunciation scale. Talia is a recipient of the Canadian Modern Language Review Best Graduate Student Paper Award and the IELTS Master’s Award for the “most significant contribution to the field of language testing.”

Although her research primarily interfaces L2 pronunciation with assessment, Talia is known for the breadth of her research interests and experience. Her published papers span the topics of endangered languages, communicative drills, and musical ability, for example. She has examined the language needs and interactions of engineers in technical settings and has participated in projects on health care access for linguistic minorities and policy effects of the OECD's PISA test. She led a systematic review on the role of language and the inclusion of ethnic minority patients in clinical trials as part of her EU grant.

Talia has served on the Editorial Board of Language TestingLanguage Assessment Quarterly, and Journal of Second Language Pronunciation and as a Member-at-Large on the International Language Testing Association (ILTA) executive board. She is an expert member of the European Association for Language Testing and Assessment (EALTA), a founding member of the Canadian Association of Language Assessment (CALA), and an affiliate member of ConDuCT-II Hub based in the School of Social and Community Medicine (Theme 2: optimising recruitment to trials). She co-coordinated the Centre for Assessment and Evaluation Research in Education (CAERe) from 2012-15 and is active in training educational stakeholders on assessment. She is co-editor (with Pavel Trofimovich) of the first edited volume dedicated to the topic of pronunciation assessment, which is freely downloadable.


During her time at Bristol, Talia designed and led the following units: Teaching and Assessing Fluency and Pronunciation (to MSc TESOL students),  Questionnaire Design and Analysis (to MSc Educational Research and PhD students as part of the ESRC-funded South West Doctoral Training Centre), and Second Language Pronunciation and Fluency (to EdD students). She also coordinated Pedagogy and Curriculum in TESOL (MSc TESOL).


  • Applied Linguistics
  • Construct Validity
  • Educational Assessment
  • Foreign Accented Speech
  • Health Communication
  • Higher Education
  • Individual Differences
  • Intelligible Pronunciation
  • Mixed Methods Research
  • Rating Scales
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Social Integration



School of Education

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Dr Isaacs currently teaches 1 courses:

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