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Staff Profile: Dr Alan Tonkyn

Dr Alan Tonkyn
Job Title:
Senior Lecturer

Programme Director of, and Admissions Tutor for, the MA in Applied Linguistics, MA in ELT (campus-based), MA (Research: Applied Linguistics), and PhD programmes.

Alan teaches the following modules:

  • LSMSL: Second Language Teaching and Learning
  • LSMDIA/DIF: Research Design and Dissertation
  • LSMSP: Spoken Language
  • LSMSTL: Second Language Teaching and Learning
  • LSMTLS: Teaching the Language Skills

Alan currently supervises 7 PhD students.


External Examiner (MA in Applied Linguistics and ELT), St Mary's University College, Twickenham; Senior Advisor, Editorial Board, Asian EFL Journal.

Areas of interest

Alan's main research and teaching interests are in the area of Second Language Acquisition (SLA), with a special interest in the development and assessment of spoken language proficiency. As a by-product of this work, Alan has collaborated with Pauline Foster of St Mary's University College, Twickenham and Gillian Wigglesworth of the University of Melbourne in the development of a new unit of analysis for L2 speech. (Foster, Tonkyn and Wigglesworth, 2000.) Alan's research interests also led to his being a member of Cambridge ESOL's working party developing the new version of the IELTS Speaking Test. (Tonkyn and Wilson, 2004.)

Alan is currently supervising PhD research in topics related to metalinguistic knowledge in SLA, curricular and instructional effects on second language attainment in different countries, the teachability of interactional discourse features, and the effect of pragmatic features on oral task difficulty.

Research groups / Centres

The Second Language Skills and Processing Research Group

  • Tonkyn, A. 2007. Short-term changes in Complexity, Accuracy and Fluency: Developing Progress-sensitive Proficiency measures. In S. Van Daele, A. Housen, F. Kuiken, M. Pierrard and I. Vedder (eds.) Complexity, Accuracy and Fluency in Second Language Use, Learning and Teaching. Brussels: Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and Arts, 263-284.
  • Tonkyn, A. 2006. 'Assessing speech: what can the spoken language researcher tell the test developer?' In C. Coombe, P. Davidson and D. Lloyd (eds.) Proceedings of the 7th and 8th Current Trends in English Language Testing Conferences. Dubai, TESOL Arabia, 3-22.
  • Tonkyn, A. 2005. Second Language Learning Principles (Distance Study MA Module Materials Coursebook). Reading: School of Languages and European Studies, University of Reading .
  • Tonkyn, A. and Wilson, J. 2004. 'Revising the IELTS speaking test.' In L.E. Sheldon (ed.) Directions for the Future, Bern : Peter Lang, 191-203.
  • Tonkyn, A. 2003. 'Revising a speaking test: a new look at What? Why? and How?' In S. Phipps (ed.) Speaking in the Monolingual Classroom: Need for a Fresh Approach. Ankara: Bilkent University Press, 256-73.
  • Bygate, M., Tonkyn A., and Williams E. (eds.) 2000. Grammar and the Language Teacher. Harlow: Pearson Education.

BA (Hons) in English (Natal), MA in English Language and Literature (Oxon.) MA in Applied Linguistics (Reading), PGCE in TEFL (London), PhD (Reading).

Contact Details



+44 (0)118 378 8515 or

+44 (0)118 378 8140

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