The Cambridge University Institute for Automated Language Teaching and Assessment (ALTA) is a virtual institute which brings together teams from computing, engineering, linguistics and language assessment to investigate new ways of using technology to enhance language learning and to develop cutting-edge approaches to assessment which will benefit learners and teachers worldwide. It forms part of Cambridge University’s interdisciplinary Language Sciences Initiative.

Sponsorship from Cambridge Assessment English provides funding for a team of PhD students and post-doctoral researchers to undertake research within four key areas:

  • Language Assessment
  • Teaching Feedback
  • Adaptive Learning
  • Content Creation

Research into these areas requires research into the following technologies:

  • Text and speech processing
  • Machine learning
  • Corpus development and analysis
  • Security, platforms and deployment

Cambridge Assessment English already has extensive experience in using technology to support language learning, including the multi-million word Cambridge Learner Corpus which is a uniquely extensive database of learners' English which is used to enhance ,Cambridge Assessment English exams and learning materials. Huge advances in areas like speech recognition and machine learning mean that computers can now complement the work of human assessors, giving surprisingly accurate evaluations of language and helping to diagnose areas for improvement. A lot of ground-breaking work is being done within Cambridge University, and the Institute brings this together, adding a new dimension to language learning.

We do not believe that automated assessment should replace class teachers and examiners anytime soon, but it can add great value to their work. For example, it can provide additional layers of quality control, speed up processes and give detailed diagnostic feedback to help students improve their English more effectively.

Who we are

The ALTA Institute is administered by The Computer Laboratory and includes principal investigators from the Departments of Engineering and of Computer Science and Technology.


Research Assistant/Associate in Spoken Language Processing (Fixed Term).

Closing date: 28 February 2022.

Contact us

Contact us for further information about ALTA. Potential applicants may contact the director or one of the other investigators for further information.

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