Professor Tim Mcnamara

Professor in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics; Deputy Head of School
Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Location: Room 619 Babel (Building 139)
Phone: +61 3 8344 4207


BA (Hons) (Melbourne), Dip Ed (Melbourne), Dip RSA (London), MA (London), PhD (Melbourne).


Building on a career as an EFL/ESL teacher and teacher trainer in Australia and the United Kingdom, Tim McNamara has taught Applied Linguistics at Melbourne since 1987. His language testing research has focused on performance assessment, theories of validity, the use of Rasch models, and the social and political meaning of language tests (he is currently researching the use of language tests in immigration and citizenship contexts, and in verifying the identities of asylum seekers). His work on language and identity has focused on the impact of poststructuralist approaches to identity and subjectivity, and he has a particular interest in the writings on language of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Tim is the author of Language Testing (OUP, 2000) and co-author (with Carsten Roever) of Language Testing: The Social Dimension (Blackwell, 2006). He is currently working on a book entitled Language and Subjectivity, to be published by De Gruyter, and (with Ute Knoch) a book entitled Measuring and Researching Second Language Performance: An Introduction to Rasch Measurement in L2 Assessment, to be published by Pearson. Tim has acted as a consultant with Educational Testing Service, Princeton where he worked on the development of the speaking sub-test of TOEFL iBT; he was also part of the team involved in the original development of IELTS. Tim is a frequent speaker at international conferences and has served on the board of Applied Linguistics, TESOL Quarterly, Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, Language Testing, Language Assessment Quarterly, Measurement, the International Journal of Applied Linguistics and the Journal of English as a Lingua Franca.

Selected publications

Measuring Second Language Performance (1996)

This book is free to download in a series of pdfs:



  • McNamara, T. and Roever, C. Language Testing: The Social Dimension. Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell, 2006


  • McNamara, T. Language Testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000


  • McNamara, T. Measuring Second Language Performance. London and New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 1996

Other publications


  • McNamara, Tim. "Values in language assessment," in Chapelle, Carol A. (ed.,). The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2013, pp. 6027-6032
  • McNamara, Tim. "Language testing: History, validity, policy," in Geisinger, Kurt F., Bracken, Bruce A., Carlson, Janet F., Hansen, Jo-Ida C., Kuncel, Nathan R., Reise, Steven P. and Rodriguez, Michael C. (eds.,). APA Handbook of Testing and Assessment in Psychology: Volume I: Test Theory and Testing and Assessment in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. American Psychological Association, 2013, pp. 341-352


  • McNamara, T. "Poststructuralism and its challenges for applied linguistics" in Applied Linguistics. 33, 5, 2012
  • McNamara, T. "Language assessments as shibboleths: A poststructuralis perspective" in Applied Linguistics. 33, 5, 2012
  • McNamara, T. and Knoch, U. "The Rasch wars: the emergence of Rasch measurement in language testing" in Language Testing. DOI: 10.1177/0265532211430367, 2012
  • Hill, K. and McNamara, T. "Developing a comprehensive, empirically based research framework for classroom-based assessment" in Language Testing. 29, 3, 2012, pp. 395-420
  • McNamara, T. "English as a lingua franca: The challenge for language testing" in Journal of English as a Lingua  Franca. 1, 1, 2012, pp. 199-202


  • McNamara, Tim. "Bodies and applied linguistics: the challenge of theory," in McPherron, Paul and Ramanathan, Vaidehi (eds.,). Language, Body, and Health. De Gruyter, 2011, pp. 267-278
  • McNamara, T. "Measuring deficit," in Candlin, C.N. and Crichton, J. (eds.,). Discourses of Deficit. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011
  • McNamara, T. "Multilingualism in education: A poststructuralis critique" in Modern Language Journal. 95, 3, 2012, pp. 430-441
  • McNamara, T. and Ryan, K. "Fairness vs justice in language testing: The place of English literacy in the Australian Citizenship Test" in Language Assessment Quarterly 8, 2, 2011, pp. 161-178
  • McNamara, T. and Ryan, K. "Testing identity: Language tests and Australian citizenship," in Norrby, C. and Hajek, J. (eds.,). Uniformity and Diversity in Language Policy: Global Perspectives. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2011


  • McNamara, Tim and Elder, Catherine. "Beyond Scales," in Liddicoat, A. and Scarino, A. (eds.,). Languages in Australia Education: Problems, Prospects and Future Directions. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010, pp. 193-201
  • McNamara, Tim. "Reading Derrida: Language, identity and violence," in Weim Li (ed.,). Applied Linguistics Review 1 2010. Mouton de Gruyter, 2010, pp. 23-43


  • McNamara, Tim. "Language tests and social policy: A commentary," in Hogan-Brun, Gabrielle; Mar-Molinero, Clare and Stevenson, Patrick (eds.,). Discourses on Language and Integration: Crtical Perspectives on Language Testing Regimes in Europe. Benjamins - John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2009, pp. 153-163
  • McNamara, T. "Australia: The Dictation Test redux?" in Language Assessment Quarterly 6, 1, 2009, pp. 106-111
  • McNamara, T. "Principles of testing and assessment," in Knapp, K. and Seidlhofer, B. (eds.,). Handbook of Foreign Language Communication and Learning, Volume 6 of Handbooks of Applied Linguistics. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2009, pp. 607-627
  • McNamara, Tim. "The spectre of the Dictation Test: Language testing for immigration and citizenship in Australia," in Extra, Guus; Spotti, Massimiliano and Avermaet, Piet Van (eds.,). Language Testing, Migration and Citizenship: Cross-national Perspectives on Integration Regimes. Continuum, 2009, pp. 224-241


  • Iwashita, N., Brown, A., McNamara, T. and O'Hagan, S., "Assessed levels of second language speaking proficiency: How distinct?" in Applied Linguistics 29, 1, 2008, pp. 24-49
  • McNamara, T. and Shohamy, E. "Language tests and human rights," in International Journal of Applied Linguistics 18, 1, 2008, pp. 89-95

Full list of publications (235kb pdf)