Our Research

Our research focuses on two core areas:

Redefining English proficiency levels for second language education

To be effective, English language learning, teaching and assessment require meaningful and useful definitions of language proficiency levels. CRELLA's socio-cognitive validation framework has enabled international test providers to clarify the proficiency levels underpinning their English language tests, particularly the criterial features distinguishing one proficiency level from another. CRELLA has worked with high status test providers to devise more valid, dependable and fair measurement tools for assessing language proficiency levels. Enhanced tests lead to better informed and more equitable decisions in society. For millions of successful candidates they open doors to higher education, improve job prospects, and increase transnational mobility.

Improving the assessment of academic English language skills for international higher education

Academic English language skills are essential for overseas students to perform effectively in university/college contexts, engaging in study with relative independence and adequate comprehension levels. CRELLA's research has contributed to a deeper understanding of academic English, and provided a theoretically sound and practically efficient methodology for the construction and validation of tertiary-level language tests for use in selection and gate-keeping by universities worldwide. Academic English tests facilitate access to international education for millions of students annually, inform efficient targeting of resources on any language related study skills support required pre and post entry and so enhance the international student experience.

Research, test development and validation projects

Research, test development and validation projects undertaken by CRELLA, either independently or in collaboration with commercial test providers, facilitate the advancement of knowledge and expertise in the two core research areas outlined above. Projects are currently being conducted in the UK, Japan, China, Russia, Italy, and Turkey.

Research consultancies

Members of CRELLA undertake consultancies in all aspects of language testing and evaluation throughout the world. Currently CRELLA staff are working on projects in UK, Europe, East Asia, Africa and the Arab world.

Our clients include (among others):

  • The British Council (IELTS, ILA, Aptis)
  • Cambridge English Language Assessment (FCE, CAE, CPE)
  • English Language Testing (Password)
  • English Profile
  • General Medical Council, UK
  • Trinity College London (ISE, GESE)
  • The Language Training and Testing Center, Taiwan (GEPT)
  • Eiken Foundation of Japan (EIKEN, TEAP)
  • Ministry of Education, Malaysia

Research publications

CRELLA staff have published extensively in recent years. This includes articles in highly regarded peer review journals in the fields of language teaching, learning and assessment, as well as monographs, individual chapters and edited volumes with reputable academic publishers such as Cambridge University Press, Palgrave Macmillan and Peter Lang.

Research seminars and conferences

To help promote assessment literacy worldwide since 2008, CRELLA staff members have delivered 27 invited plenary talks, 27 keynotes and 193 other papers at conferences and seminars worldwide. The total audience for these presentations was over 17,000 language teachers, testing professionals and members of the public.

PhD and MA by Research at CRELLA

We wish to attract outstanding research students in the areas of language assessment and learning and so build on the strong base of the many PhD students already registered at CRELLA

We provide supervision at the levels of MPhil, PhD and MA by Research in the fields of English language assessment, and related areas of language learning.

The major benefit of studying at CRELLA is access to the outstanding faculty in the field of language testing. The CRELLA team have incredible coverage of many different research specializations and this breadth and depth of knowledge is very valuable to PhD candidates.

M.C., completed in 2016

Student research proposals are particularly welcome in the areas of:

  • academic literacy and language proficiency
  • aligning tests to frameworks such as the CEFR
  • assessing English for specific purposes, e.g. aviation, medicine
  • assessing language skills across the proficiency spectrum
  • cognitive processing in language tests
  • computer technologies in language assessment
  • developing assessment literacy among test stakeholders
  • formative assessment and assessment for learning
  • test development and validation
  • the construct(s) of language proficiency
  • the history of language assessment
  • washback and the use and impacts of language tests and assessments
  • discourse analysis of speaking assessments and classroom interactions
  • materials design for language teaching
CRELLA holds leading expertise in the field and links with the testing industry. It offers regular events that allow students to present their research as it emerges.

T.R., completed in 2018

Please contact us you would like to consult CRELLA on any of our areas of interest, or if you are interested in studying with us.

Details of fees and application procedures are available from the Research Graduate School of the University.

Attachment programme for researchers in English language testing and/or evaluation and/or ELT curriculum.

The programme is designed for the ELT researcher or practitioner who requires an individualised programme. It is especially appropriate for research students and academics on sabbatical leave. Attachments may last from three weeks to one year.

Please contact us to learn more about our attachment programme.


Professor Tony Green
Director of CRELLA
University of Bedfordshire
Putteridge Bury
Hitchin Road
Luton, Bedfordshire



+44 (0)1582 489086