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12 September 2017

Experts consider the future of online language learning

Language experts at Cambridge University Press and Laureate International Universities have predicted the future of online language learning as the two organisations join forces to launch the new Online Language Learning Research Network (OLLReN).

A panel of advisors made the following six predictions for online language learning over the next five years:

  1. The increasing use of synchronous tools for teaching and learning for ongoing support from teachers and peers, and for creating a sense of community among the learners
  2. Geolocation tracking and calendar synchronization to enable more context-sensitive learning activity or language support
  3. The increasing use of automated assessment to give instant feedback to learners enabling them to carry out more effective practice outside the classroom
  4. Increasing levels of personalization and specialization in learning programmes which will help mixed ability and mixed interest classes
  5. Increasing investment in online language learning in order to attract more students for each course
  6. The development of new online teaching methodologies

Some of the biggest questions facing the development of online language learning today include: ‘How can student motivation in online contexts be improved?’; ‘How does assessment of language learning differ in an online context?’ and ‘What platform features are most impactful on learning?’.

Laureate International Universities and Cambridge University Press have set up OLLReN to support the sharing and development of research into how language is taught and learned online. Both organisations have been involved in cutting-edge online and blended English language courses, and have felt the need for more research into what makes online language learning more effective.

OLLReN aims to bring together existing pockets of research from around the world in one single, accessible space. The network will include links to up-to-date research, summaries of current research, opportunities to participate in online events, access to a list of researchers working in this field and opportunities to work with OLLReN on research activities.

Both businesses hope that through this partnership, they can contribute to the continual progression of English language online learning.

Gordon Lewis, Vice President of Language Programs for Laureate Higher Education, said: ‘OLLReN will help make research into online language learning more widely known and more useful for educational managers and tutors that are responsible for online language programmes.’

Ben Knight, Director for Language Research at Cambridge University Press, added: ‘As increasing numbers of learners choose to learn languages online, we want to play a role in making online programmes more effective by making better use of high quality research around the world.’

The Press and Laureate Institute hope this new platform for sharing research will give the educationalist community more consensus and clarity in an area of education that needs continual development in this growing technological climate.

OLLReN is having its second annual online conference from 5-6 October 2017. To find out more visit

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