Associate Professor John Read

MA(Hons) (Victoria), PhD (New Mexico)


John Read joined Applied Language Studies and Linguistics in July 2005 and was Head of Department from 2007 to 2010. He previously taught applied linguistics, TESOL and EAP at Victoria University of Wellington, the SEAMEO Regional Language Centre in Singapore, the University of Texas El Paso, and Indiana University. He has also held visiting research appointments at the University of Malaya, Birkbeck College London, Lancaster University, the University of Birmingham, the University of Michigan and the University of Melbourne.

His main area of specialisation is language testing and assessment, with a particular focus on vocabulary assessment and the testing of English for academic and professional purposes. He has been extensively involved with the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) as a researcher, consultant and test administrator, and has directed three IELTS-funded research projects on various aspects of the test He has been a consultant to Aviation Services Ltd and Air New Zealand on the design of English language assessments for pilots and air traffic controllers. At the University of Auckland, he is Academic Coordinator of the Diagnostic English Language Needs Assessment (DELNA), which assesses the academic language needs of students entering the university.

In 2011-12, John was President of the International Language Testing Association (ILTA), having previously served as Vice-President (2009-10) and a member of the Executive Board (1992-93, 2000-01). He was co-editor of the international research journal Language Testing from 2002 to 2006. He is currently completing a four-year term as a member of the Committee of Examiners for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

John’s doctoral research was a study of language maintenance on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana, USA and its implications for bilingual education. He has continuing interests in language maintenance and shift, language policy in education and other ways in which the social context influences language learning.

Research | Current

Second language vocabulary acquisition and assessment; testing English for academic and professional purposes; diagnostic language assessment; the development of academic literacy.

  • The design of tasks for the assessment of academic vocabulary knowledge and use, particularly the Yes/No format as a measure of vocabulary size
  • The use of lexical and other measures for diagnostic assessment
  • The design of specific-purpose English tests in aviation and the health sciences
  • The effectiveness of language enhancement programmes for undergraduate students

Teaching | Current

Language Teaching and Learning
LANGTCHG 742 Language Assessment Semester 1 & 2
LANGTCHG 716 Vocabulary Learning and Teaching Semester 2
LANGTCHG 732 Applied Linguistics Research Semester 1


Postgraduate supervision

Current Doctoral Students

Xiaohua Liu: Towards a diagnostic assessment of EAP reading  (Main)

Morena Dias Botelho de Magalhaes: Doctoral students' experiences in meeting the language demands of English-medium study (Main)

Aziz Khan: A narrative ethnography of teachers in Pakistan and implications for language policy. (Second)

Scott Aubrey: Effect of inter-cultural contact on L2 motivation and L2 learning: a process-product study (Second)

Recently Completed Doctoral Students

Xiaoying Wang (2014): Investigating assessment practices in three EFL oral language classrooms in China(Second)

Colleen Bright (2012): The role of academic writing in the study experience of undergraduate business students (Main)

Ian Wilson (2012): Academic literacy and self-efficacy in adult students preparing for tertiary study (Joint)

Rachel Lee (2012):  Writing as a literacy development for low achievers: The case of a neighbourhood school in Singapore (Main)

Dawn Booth (2012): Exploring the washback of the TOEIC in South Korea : a sociocultural perspective on student test activity (Second)

Dana Gablasova (2012): Learning and expressing technical vocabulary through the medium of L1 and L2 by Slovak-English bilingual high-school students (Main)

Jeannet Stephen (2012): English loan words in the Malay print media and their implications for English vocabulary acquisition (Main)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Read, J. (2015). Assessing English proficiency for university study. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Pages: 272.
  • Read, J., & von Randow, J. (2013). A university post-entry English language assessment: Charting the changes. International Journal of English Studies, 13 (2), 89-110.
  • Read, J. A. (2013). Research timeline: Second language vocabulary assessment. Language Teaching, 46 (1), 41-52. 10.1017/S0261444812000377
  • Read, J. (2012). Piloting vocabulary tests. In G. Fulcher, F. Davidson (Eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Language Testing (pp. 307-320). London: Routledge.
  • Read, J., & Wette, R. J. (2009). Achieving English proficiency for professional registration: The experience of overseas-qualified health professionals in the New Zealand context. In J. Osborne (Ed.) IELTS Research Reports Volume 10 (pp. 181-222). Canberra, ACT: IELTS Australia and British Council.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rosemary Wette
  • Read, J. (2008). Identifying academic language needs through diagnostic assessment. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 7 (3), 180-190. 10.1016/j.jeap.2008.02.001
  • Read, J. (2000). Assessing Vocabulary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pages: 279.

Contact details

Office hours

Appointments by email

Primary location

ARTS 1 - Bldg 206
Level 4 , Room 458
New Zealand