Zoe Louise Handley

Zoe Louise Handley


Former affiliation

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


I obtained a first degree in French Language Technology BSc from the Centre for Computational Linguistics, UMIST in 2001 and a PhD in Informatics from the University of Manchester in 2006. Since completing my doctoral studies which investigated the use of speech synthesis in Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL), I have worked as a language specialist in the Speech Technology Group at Toshiba, Cambridge (2006-2007), as an LSRI Research Fellow in the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Nottingham (2007-2009) investigating pronunciation training, and as an Oxford University Press Research Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford (2009-2011) studying the use of technology in primary and secondary English as a foreign language classes.

I joined the Department of Education at the University of York in September 2011. Since joining the Department, I have taught across the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Currently, my main teaching responsibilities lie in the area of research methods and skills. I have played a lead role in a number of teaching innovations in the Department and received a Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching in recognition of these contributions in 2014. I have also held a number of administrative responsibilities in the Department. These include Director of Taught Masters (Admissions and Assessment: Apr 2014 – June 2016), Deputy Director of Graduate Studies (Sept 2013-Mar 2014), and Deputy Leader MA TESOL (Jan 2012- Sept 2013).   

I am also currently Programme Leader for the interdisciplinary MA in Social Research in the Research Centre for Social Sciences.

Research interests

My research falls into two main areas, namely second language oral fluency, and computer-assisted language learning. In addition to this, I am also interested in second language pronunciation and the potential use of technology to support pronunciation teaching.

Second language oral fluency and its development

Within the area of oral fluency, I am currently completing two projects. The first, funded by the British Academy through a Skills Acquisition Award, focuses on answering the question “What is fluency?” and explores the relationship between Chinese masters students’ linguistic knowledge and processing and their oral fluency, where fluency refers to the fluidity of oral production. The second, funded by the British Council through an English Language Teaching Research Award, investigates the impact of study abroad on Chinese master’s students’ oral fluency development and compares a cohort of students studying in the UK with a similar cohort studying in China. These projects have the potential to inform approaches to measuring and assessing oral fluency as well as the focus of in-sessional support for Chinese international students.

Computer-Assisted Language Learning

Within the area of computer-assisted language learning, I am currently supervising doctoral students in the areas of computer-mediated communication and blogging. Other topics which I have worked on with research students include teacher professional development through online communities of practice, wiki-mediated collaborative writing, and the use of smartphones to support international students during study abroad. My own work in this area includes a systematic review of research on the use of CALL in primary and secondary EFL classrooms, an evaluation of different approaches to Computer-Assisted Pronunciation Training (CAPT), and an evaluation of the readiness of French Text-to-Speech (TTS) Synthesis for use as a speech module in CALL software. I have also written on methodological issues in the CALL literature.

Doctoral studies

I welcome applications from highly qualified students in the following areas:

-      Second language oral fluency and its development

-      Second language pronunciation learning and teaching

-      Computer-mediated task-based language teaching

-      Teacher cognition and decision making in relation to the use of technology in the language classroom

Applications which explore the specific affordances of individual technologies for the teaching of specific language skills will also be considered, in particular those which draw links with Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theory and research.