About Associate Professor David Hirsh

The attraction of TESOL research is its multifaceted concern with improving approaches to teaching/learning language for both general and specialized communicative contexts.

David Hirsh focuses on research which aims to better understand the process of vocabulary learning, the role of language assessment, and the relationship between language knowledge and academic performance.

David is a lecturer in TESOL in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney, where he teaches and supervises postgraduate students in the broad area of TESOL. David has researched and published widely in the areas of vocabulary studies and language assessment, with articles appearing in Reading in a Foreign Language, French Review of Applied Linguistics, TESOLANZ Journal and University of Sydney Papers in TESOL. He is a reviewer for ESP Journal, EA Journal and University of Sydney Papers in TESOL, and a frequent presenter at conferences and colloquia.David developed an awareness of key issues in second language teaching while teaching EFL to tertiary students in Thailand in the 1980s and 1990s. He realized that greater guidance was required for ESL/EFL teachers in selecting suitable reading material and preparing learners for the vocabulary demands of academic reading. He later developed a passion for language assessment, with a particular interest in examining the relationship between language knowledge and academic performance. This interest continues to broaden, to include the broad academic experiences of international students at university.David completed his PhD in 2004, focusing on the functionality of academic vocabulary. He investigated the reasons for the presence of an academic vocabulary in English. More recently, he has attracted external funding, with colleagues in the field of TESOL, to examine best practice is the assessment of English for admission to tertiary institutions, and the scope for moderation of assessment decisions across English language providers within the tertiary sector. Current projects focus on the relationship between language knowledge and academic performance for international students in Australian universities.

View David's academic profile here

Selected publications

Hirsh, D. (2008, forthcoming). Tracking academic performance: a qualitative approach, in N. Tarling (ed.) Value of English for Asian Students. Auckland: University of Auckland Press. Paltridge, B., Harbon, L., Hirsh, D., Phakiti, A., Shen, H., Stevenson, M. & Woodrow, L. (2008, in press). Teaching Academic Writing. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Coxhead, A. & Hirsh, D. (2007). A pilot science-specific word list. French Revue of Applied Linguistics, 12(2), 65-78.  Hirsh, D. (2007). English language, academic support and academic outcomes: A discussion paper. University of Sydney Papers in TESOL, 2(2), 193-211.  Read, J. & Hirsh, D. (2007). Moderating assessment standards in Foundation Studies programmes. The TESOLANZ Journal, 15, 1-15.  Read, J. & Hirsh, D. (2005). English Language Levels for International Students in Tertiary Institutions. Final report to Education New Zealand on Export Education Levy Project E4. Wellington: Education New Zealand Trust. Online at http://www.educationnz.org.nz/indust_researchreports.html Hirsh, D. (1998). Reading material for EFL learners. ABAC Today, March-April 1998, 9-12. Hirsh, D. (1997). Survey of the suitability of reading material for EFL learners. First Pan Asian Conference Proceedings, Bangkok. Hirsh, D. (1995). Goal setting for ESL lessons. The English Teacher, 1(1), 6-9. Hirsh, D. & Nation, P. (1992). What vocabulary size is needed to read unsimplified texts for pleasure? Reading in a Foreign Language, 8(2), 689-696.