From our research so far we know that what is important with digital pedagogy is ensuring our main focus is on the pedagogical goal we are trying to achieve, not on the technology. That means we think about learning first and the tool to help with that second. Following this approach allows us to ascertain the added value of digital, where the digital component of a learning product is doing something new, something valuable and something we could not do without it.

The field of Digital Pedagogy is very new. There is not much impartial research in the area so it can be hard to know what we should do and what should guide us. However, we do have the option to borrow from research already done in the fields of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and Language Learning. This has helped us recognise that technology will not automatically improve the quality of learning and instead has guided us towards understanding how, when and why we should use it. This would lead us away from being too focused on the technology and more focused on learning.
For example, drawing on SLA research we can evaluate digital resources for language learning to see how effective they can be. This is useful as although technology might be changing quickly, the way humans learn languages is not, and so we can have a greater impact on learning in a digital age using research from well-established fields.

What next?

We have multiple products being tested and evaluated to understand how to better implement digital pedagogy and have created a research organisation, OLLReN, that deals with research and online language learning in order to generate more objective research on the field. If this is an area that interests you and you’d like to get involved, please do get in touch by going to our Contact Us page.

The research we do at Cambridge University Press is multi-, trans-, and interdisciplinary. Our collaboration with the University of Cambridge offers us valuable resources to draw on in terms of research, data and best practices. We are also widening our perspective beyond that, given the global nature of our field, and are developing a global network of experts and researchers.

Our Global Network is a network of experts who specialise in different areas of linguistics, pedagogy, educational psychology, and various areas of language, learning and teaching research. These experts contribute to a variety of research projects undertaken by us to help better inform ELT materials development here at Cambridge University Press. The following are some of the types of projects we work on within our network:

  • Classroom based research
  • Data collection
  • Data analysis: qualitative and quantitative
  • Report writing
  • Cambridge Papers in ELT
  • Academic publishing
  • Research driven workshops, presentations, and publishing guides
  • (Inter)Nationally funded research projects
  • Group research projects

How can I get involved?

Our network is always expanding and largely it grows as a response to changing needs in publishing and among our customers. We do however welcome suggestions for research areas that you think may be interesting for us and projects on which you may want to collaborate with us. If you would like to get involved, go to our Contact Us page.

Both Cambridge University Press, ELT and Cambridge Assessment English continuously work on valuable research projects. Some of our key joint projects include:

Cambridge Learner Corpus

We have built this corpus of over 50 million words by collecting and error-coding Cambridge exam scripts submitted by over 220,000 students from 173 countries. This has helped us get a much deeper understanding of how students use English at each stage of their learning journey, helping us design new courses that are informed by these research-based insights.

Find out more about the Cambridge Learner Corpus.

Cambridge Corpus of Academic English

Otherwise known as CamCAE, this is a corpus of academic writing ranging from high school students to published academic authors.

Find out more about the Cambridge Corpus of Academic English.

English Profile

This is a research project, originally sponsored by the Council of Europe, which Cambridge University Press and Cambridge Assessment English ran to gather data on what the Common European Framework of Reference means specifically for learners of English.

Our focus has been on gathering data on the grammatical and lexical learning points mastered at each CEFR level. The findings from this research have been incorporated into the English Vocabulary Profile and the English Grammar Profile.

Find out more about English Profile.

Cambridge Framework for Life Competencies

The Language and Pedagogy Research Team at Cambridge University Press developed a framework to bring clarity and detail to the area of life skills. We have worked with Cambridge Assessment English on refining and validating the framework, and v3.0 (released in September 2018) has developed based on this collaborative work.

Find out more about the Cambridge Framework for Life Competencies.

English Profile helps teachers and educationalists understand what the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) means for English. It describes what aspects of English are typically learned at each CEFR level. This tells teachers, curriculum developers, coursebook authors and test writers around the world what is suitable for learning at each level and so ensures their content is level-appropriate.

The English Profile website contains a wealth of information, including two innovative online tools: English Vocabulary Profile Online and English Grammar Profile Online. These are searchable databases that give you free access to the research findings on what English vocabulary and grammar is suitable for teaching at each CEFR level.

When a new English language programme has been introduced within an institution, we can help examine its impact on learning by implementing and running an Impact Study with the school or university.

In order to evaluate how learning has changed, we collaborate with the school or university and provide the framework and tools for the Impact Study. We usually focus on three main areas:

  • Language proficiency – how has their English improved over the programme?
  • Motivation to learn – how have their attitudes to learning English changed over the programme?
  • Behaviours – how have the learning behaviours changed over the programme?

Impact Studies involve collecting information at the start and end of the programme to track changes. Where possible, we include control groups to assess how far the new programme is a key reason for change. We normally focus on programmes where a new English language course from Cambridge University Press has been adopted.

The report from the Impact Study is confidential for the institution, but if they are happy to share the findings more widely, we can produce public reports, presentations and academic papers based on the Impact Study.

If you are interested in conducting an Impact Study in your school or university, please go to our Contact Us page.


How do we prepare our students to succeed in a fast-changing world? To collaborate with people from around the globe? To create innovation as technology increasingly takes over routine work? To use advanced thinking skills in the face of more complex challenges? To show resilience in the face of constant change? These are questions educators around the world are trying to address and to determine the skills and competencies our students need for the 21st century - each relating to different contexts.

At Cambridge, we have been working on how we can help you with this and are responding to educators that have asked for a way to understand how all these different approaches to life competencies relate to English language programmes. We have set out to analyse what the basic competencies are. This is to help us create an underlying framework to interpret different initiatives. We have also started work on examining the different stages of the learning journey, and how these competencies vary across each stage. Click on the images below to view the introduction booklet and the booklets for each of the 7 competencies (pdfs).

Cambridge Corpus of Academic English

Cambridge University Press and Cambridge English Language Assessment are undertaking a research project to develop a better understanding of the English language skills needed by students at English-medium universities. This resource will complement the existing 400 million words of academic English already included in the Cambridge English Corpus. At the heart of the project is the creation of a huge collection, or corpus, of academic writing. We aim to collect as wide a variety of written materials as possible, from essays and reports written by A Level students to research theses and journal articles produced by academics.

Cambridge Papers in ELT

Written by academic experts, this series of papers connects the deeper insights of linguistic and pedagogical research with the reality of everyday ELT practice. Click on the images below to view/download the papers (pdfs).

Cambridge University Press