Talia Isaacs

Talia Isaacs
University College London | UCL · Institute of Education

PhD

About

79
Publications
62,525
Reads
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1,617
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2020 - present
Anaheim University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
November 2016 - October 2019
University of Bristol
Position
  • Researcher
November 2016 - present
University College London
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
Education
January 2006 - January 2010
McGill University
Field of study
  • Second Language Education
September 2004 - August 2006
McGill University
Field of study
  • Second Language Education
September 1997 - June 2001
McGill University
Field of study
  • Major: Music; Minors: German Studies, Italian Studies

Publications

Publications (79)
Article
Full-text available
The goal of this study is to identify the linguistic factors that most efficiently distinguish between upper levels of the IELTS Pronunciation scale. Analyses of test-taker speaking performance, coupled with IELTS examiners' ratings of discrete elements and qualitative comments, reveal ways of increasing the transparency of rating scale descriptors...
Chapter
This chapter brings to the fore key issues and challenges in second language (L2) pronunciation assessment, drawing on both psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives. After providing reasons for the exclusion of pronunciation from L2 classrooms and its marginalization from mainstream L2 assessment research over the past several decades, the...
Chapter
Full-text available
Book
Full-text available
This book is open access under a CC BY licence. It spans the areas of assessment, second language acquisition (SLA) and pronunciation and examines topical issues and challenges that relate to formal and informal assessments of second language (L2) speech in classroom, research and real-world contexts. It showcases insights from assessing other skil...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Type 2 diabetes is a serious, pervasive metabolic condition that disproportionately affects ethnic minority patients. Telehealth interventions can facilitate type 2 diabetes monitoring and prevent secondary complications. However, trials designed to test the effectiveness of telehealth interventions may underrecruit or exclude ethnic m...
Article
Full-text available
“Context” has been increasingly featured and acknowledged in second language (L2) research because L2 teaching is recognised to be shaped by the environments in which it is situated. Numerous theoretical perspectives were introduced to L2 research that aim to capture the contextual forces at work in teaching and learning, including but not limited...
Article
Randomised trials, especially those intended to directly inform clinical practice and policy, should be designed to reflect all those who could benefit from the intervention under test should it prove effective. This does not always happen. The UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) INCLUDE project identified many groups in the UK that ar...
Article
Full-text available
“Context” has been increasingly featured and acknowledged in second language (L2) research because L2 teaching is recognised to be shaped by the environments in which it is situated. Numerous theoretical perspectives were introduced to L2 research that aim to capture the contextual forces at work in teaching and learning, including but not limited...
Preprint
Randomised trials, especially those intended to directly inform clinical practice and policy, should be designed to reflect all those who could benefit from the intervention under test should it prove effective. This does not always happen. The UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) INCLUDE project identified many groups in the UK that ar...
Article
Full-text available
Background For medical conditions with numerous interventions worthy of investigation, there are many advantages of a multi-arm multi-stage (MAMS) platform trial approach. However, there is currently limited knowledge on uptake of the MAMS design, especially in the late-phase setting. We sought to examine uptake and characteristics of late-phase MA...
Article
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This sequential mixed-methods study investigates washback on learning in a high-stakes school exit examination by examining learner perceptions and reported behaviours in relation to learners’ beliefs and language learning experience, the role of other stakeholders in the washback mechanism, and socio-educational forces. The focus is the graded app...
Article
Full-text available
Background Sharing trial results with participants is an ethical imperative but often does not happen. We tested an Enhanced Webpage versus a Basic Webpage, Mailed Printed Summary versus no Mailed Printed Summary, and Email List Invitation versus no Email List Invitation to see which approach resulted in the highest patient satisfaction with how th...
Article
Full-text available
Background Many randomized controlled trials fail to reach their target sample size. When coupled with the omission and underrepresentation of disadvantaged groups in randomized controlled trials, many trials fail to obtain data that accurately represents the true diversity of their target population. Policies and practices have been implemented to...
Article
Full-text available
In his philosophical novel, Thus spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche (1883-85), famously wrote, 'God is dead,' signifying that God is no longer credible as an absolute moral compass. Over a century later, Paikeday (1985), proclaimed that The native speaker is dead! in his book title, implying that the native speaker as the arbiter of what is correct in a...
Article
Full-text available
Background Ensuring that a trial is designed so that its participants reflect those who might benefit from the results, or be spared harms, is key to the potential benefits of the trial reaching all they should. This paper describes the process, facilitated by Trial Forge, that was used between July 2019 and October 2020 to develop the INCLUDE Ethn...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Ensuring that a trial is designed so that its participants reflect those who might benefit from the results, or be spared harms, is key to the potential benefits of the trial reaching all they should. This paper describes the process used between July 2019 and October 2020 to develop the INCLUDE Ethnicity Framework, part of the wider INC...
Chapter
Pronunciation assessment (PA) is a resurgent subfield within applied linguistics that traverses the domains of psycholinguistics, second language acquisition (SLA), speech sciences, sociolinguistics, and more recently, computational linguistics. Though the terms ‘pronunciation’ and ‘assessment’ are sometimes defined in different ways by different a...
Article
Full-text available
Obtaining informed consent (IC) is an ethical imperative, signifying participants' understanding of the conditions and implications of research participation. One setting where the stakes for understanding are high is randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which test the effectiveness and safety of medical interventions. However, the use of legalese...
Article
This study investigates how Mandarin and Slavic language speakers' com-prehensibility, accentedness, and fluency ratings, as assigned by experienced teacher-raters and novice raters, align with discrete linguistic measures, and raters' accounts of influences on their scoring. In addition to examining mean ratings in relation to rater experience and...
Chapter
Full-text available
This study investigates how Mandarin and Slavic language speakers’ comprehensibility, accentedness, and fluency ratings, as assigned by experienced teacher-raters and novice raters, align with discrete linguistic measures, and raters’ accounts of influences on their scoring. In addition to examining mean ratings in relation to rater experience and...
Article
This study analyzed the contribution of lexical factors to native-speaking raters’ assessments of comprehensibility and nativeness in second language (L2) speech. Using transcribed samples to reduce non-lexical sources of bias, 10 naïve L1 English raters evaluated speech samples from 97 L2 English learners across two tasks (picture description and...
Article
Full-text available
This article brings to the fore trends in second language (L2) pronunciation research, teaching, and assessment by highlighting the ways in which pronunciation instructional priorities and assessment targets have shifted over time, social dimensions that, although presented in a different guise, appear to have remained static, and principles in nee...
Article
Full-text available
This study critically examined the previously reported partial independence between second language (L2) accentedness (degree to which L2 speech differs from the target variety) and comprehensibility (ease of understanding). In prior work, comprehensibility was linked to multiple linguistic dimensions of L2 speech (phonology, fluency, lexis, gramma...
Chapter
Full-text available
Although a growing awareness of the social nature of assessment has led to an increased interest in washback in language testing, previous research has focused on the effects of existing exams or the introduction of new exams. However, if the introduction or existence of an exam has potential power to produce changes in teaching and learning, withd...
Article
After an extended period of being on the periphery, numerous advancements in the field of second language (L2) pronunciation over the past decade have led to increased activity and visibility for this subfield within applied linguistics research. As Derwing (2010) underscored in her 2009 plenary at the first annual Pronunciation in Second Language...
Article
Full-text available
There is growing research on the linguistic features that most contribute to making second language (L2) speech easy or difficult to understand. Comprehensibility, which is usually captured through listener judgments, is increasingly viewed as integral to the L2 speaking construct. However, there are shortcomings in how this construct is operationa...
Article
Full-text available
Although language experts have long advocated the use of Extensive Reading (ER) to enhance vocabulary acquisition, the widespread use of the more traditional Intensive Reading (IR) approach prevails in English as Foreign Language (EFL) settings. Many experimental studies have attempted to demonstrate the benefits of using ER over IR in classroom co...
Article
The current study investigated the effect of listener status (native, nonnative) and language background (French, Mandarin) on global ratings of second language speech. Twenty-six nonnative English listeners representing the two language backgrounds ( n = 13 each) rated the comprehensibility and accentedness of 40 French speakers of English. These...
Article
Full-text available
Background: PISA results appear to have a large impact upon government policy. The phenomenon is growing, with more countries taking part in PISA testing and politicians pointing to PISA results as reasons for their reforms.Purpose: The aims of this research were to depict the policy reactions to PISA across a number of jurisdictions, to see whethe...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Type 2 diabetes is common, on the rise, and disproportionately affects ethnic minority groups. Telehealth interventions may mitigate diabetes-related complications, but might under-recruit or even exclude ethnic minorities, in part because of English language requirements. The under-representation of minority patients in trials could t...
Article
This study targeted the relationship between self- and other-assessment of accentedness and comprehensibility in second language (L2) speech, extending prior social and cognitive research documenting weak or non-existing links between people's self-assessment and objective measures of performance. Results of two experiments (N = 134) revealed mostl...
Article
Full-text available
This study targeted the relationship between self-and other-assessment of accentedness and comprehensibility in second language (L2) speech, extending prior social and cognitive research documenting weak or non-existing links between people's self-assessment and objective measures of performance. Results of two experiments (N = 134) revealed mostly...
Article
Full-text available
The current study investigated first language (L1) effects on listener judgment of comprehensibility and accentedness in second language (L2) speech. The participants were 45 university-level adult speakers of English from three L1 backgrounds (Chinese, Hindi, Farsi), performing a picture narrative task. Ten native English listeners used continuous...
Article
Full-text available
The current study investigated linguistic influences on comprehensibility (ease of understanding) and accentedness (linguistic nativelikeness) in second language (L2) learners’ extemporaneous speech. Target materials included picture narratives from 40 native French speakers of English from different proficiency levels. The narratives were subseque...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined contributions of lexical factors to native-speaking raters’ assessments of comprehensibility (ease of understanding) of second language (L2) speech. Extemporaneous oral narratives elicited from 40 French speakers of L2 English were evaluated for comprehensibility by 10 raters and analyzed for 12 lexical variables targeting diver...
Article
Full-text available
The current project investigated the extent to which several lexical aspects of second language (L2) speech—appropriateness, fluency, variation, sophistication, abstractness, sense relations—interact to influence native speakers’ judgements of comprehensibility (ease of understanding) and accentedness (linguistic nativelikeness). Extemporaneous spe...
Article
Full-text available
The current study investigated task effects on listener perception of second language (L2) comprehensibility (ease of understanding). Sixty university-level adult speakers of English from 4 first language (L1) backgrounds (Chinese, Romance, Hindi, Farsi), with 15 speakers per group, were recorded performing 2 tasks (IELTS long-turn speaking task an...
Article
Full-text available
The current project aimed to investigate the potentially different linguistic correlates of comprehensibility (i.e., ease of understanding) and accentedness (i.e., linguistic nativelikeness) in adult second language (L2) learners’ extemporaneous speech production. Timed picture descriptions from 120 beginner, intermediate, and advanced Japanese lea...
Article
Full-text available
One of the central challenges of ESL teaching is striking the right balance between form and meaning. In pronunciation pedagogy, this challenge is compounded because repetitive practice, which has been shown to enhance phonological acquisition and promote fluency, is widely viewed as being incompatible with communicative principles. This article pr...
Article
Full-text available
From a historical perspective, it can be argued that pronunciation, more than any other component within the broad construct of second language (L2) speaking ability, has been subject to the whims of the time and the fashions of the day. That is, pronunciation, once dubbed "the Cinderella of language teaching" to depict its potentially glamorous ye...
Article
Full-text available
This mixed-methods study examines the effects of rating scale length and rater experience on listeners' judgments of second-language (L2) speech. Twenty experienced and 20 novice raters, who were randomly assigned to 5-point or 9-point rating scale conditions, judged speech samples of 38 newcomers to Canada on numerical rating scales for comprehens...
Chapter
A growing number of researchers in the area of second language phonology have employed a mixed methods approach to better understand the research problem and to strengthen the quality of their inferences or interpretations (e.g., Zielinski, 2008; Derwing & Munro, 2009). However, not all published mixed methods phonological studies are explicitly la...
Article
Full-text available
The goal of this study was to determine which linguistic aspects of second language speech are related to accent and which to comprehensibility. To address this goal, 19 different speech measures in the oral productions of 40 native French speakers of English were examined in relation to accent and comprehensibility, as rated by 60 novice raters an...
Article
Full-text available
Comprehensibility, a major concept in second language (L2) pronunciation research that denotes listeners’ perceptions of how easily they understand L2 speech, is central to interlocutors’ communicative success in real-world contexts. Although comprehensibility has been modeled in several L2 oral proficiency scales—for example, the Test of English a...
Article
Full-text available
Second language (L2) listening has long been regarded as an integral part of communicative competence. Yet teachers often struggle to systematically target this skill, with in-class activities often restricted to testing rather than teaching L2 listening. For example, the emphasis in instruction is often on eliciting learners’ responses to comprehe...
Article
Full-text available
One of the most demanding situations for members of linguistic minorities is a conversation between a health professional and a patient, a situation that frequently arises for linguistic minority groups in North America, Europe, and elsewhere. The present study reports on the construction of an oral interaction scale for nurses serving linguistic m...
Article
Full-text available
This thesis examines systematic sources of variance in raters' judgments of second (L2) language speech, including rater cognitive and experience variables, rating scale properties, and characteristics of the speech, in order to better understand influences on raters' scoring decisions. The thesis culminates in the development of an empirically-bas...
Article
Full-text available
This study examines how listener judgments of second language speech relate to individual differences in listeners’ phonological memory, attention control, and musical ability. Sixty native English listeners (30 music majors, 30 nonmusic majors) rated 40 nonnative speech samples for accentedness, comprehensibility, and fluency. The listeners were a...
Article
TESOL Quarterly invites readers to submit short reports and updates on their work. These summaries may address any areas of interest to Quarterly readers.
Thesis
Full-text available
This thesis examines systematic sources of variance in raters' judgments of second (L2) language speech, including rater cognitive and experience variables, rating scale properties, and characteristics of the speech, in order to better understand influences on raters' scoring decisions. The thesis culminates in the development of an empirically-bas...
Article
Full-text available
A study was conducted to investigate whether second language (L2) learners had the ability to produce English vowels when they were presented in more familiar words and when learners had access to orthographic representations of those words. A number of Standard Mandarin-speaking and Slavic students participated in the study. All these students had...
Article
Full-text available
In L2 speech learning, lexical frequency may play a facilitative role, whereby perception and production of sounds found in high-frequency lexical items will develop before the perception and production of the same categories found in low-frequency lexical items (see Munro and Derwing, 2008). Orthographic information may also facilitate learning by...
Article
Full-text available
Intelligibility has been widely regarded as an appropriate goal for second language pronunciation teaching. Yet there is no universally accepted definition of intelligibility, nor any field-wide consensus on the best way to measure it. Further, there is little empirical evidence to suggest which pronunciation features are crucial for intelligibilit...
Article
Full-text available
In light of a growing body of research on language death, this paper examines the situation of Judeo‐Arabic, an ethnolect of Jews from Arabic‐speaking countries with various written and spoken forms. More specifically, the fate of the Iraqi variety of Judeo‐Arabic is discussed, particularly in the context of Montreal, Canada. Educational initiative...

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