Anna Simmonds



I did my first degree at the University of Portsmouth and PGCE at Canterbury Christ Church University. I later returned to Portsmouth for my MA, went to UCL for my MSc and did my PhD at Imperial College London.


I have a PhD in Cognitive Neuroimaging, an MSc in Neuroscience, Language and Communication, an MA in Applied Linguistics and TEFL, a PGCE in Secondary Modern Foreign Languages and a BA(Hons) in French.

Work History:

I entered the world of science having already established a career as a foreign language teacher. I taught secondary French for a few years and I later also qualified as a teacher of English as a foreign language to adults, which first sparked my interest in the neuroscience of language. In 2013-2014 I also worked for the Wellcome Trust as Project Manager of Education and Neuroscience.

Current Job:

Research Associate


I work at Imperial College London

My Interview

Me and my work

My cognitive neuroscience research uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate brain systems involved in foreign language speech production. The language learning process fascinates me. I find it intriguing that a learner can master proficient use of foreign vocabulary and grammar yet still have an accent that may profoundly affect the listener and their attitude to the speaker. I am interested in exploring techniques to achieve a more native-like accent, thereby applying neuroscience research to improve education.

Typical day

If I’m collecting data a typical day involves spending time at the scanner, meeting volunteers, scanning their brains and not seeing a lot of daylight. Analysing the data is computer-based, with lots of statistics and spreadsheets as well as brain images. On other days I might be giving a talk, or attending talks by researchers from other universities. I love the variety of the work and enjoy learning new things every day.

What topics do you work on?

Language learning, speech production, bilingualism.

What methods do you use?

I use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate foreign language learning.

Who was your favourite teacher?