New Directions 2018 -  - New Directions in English Language Assessment

New Directions 2018 addressed the theme: Standards in Learning Systems. 

The conference aimed to provide a forum for the presentation of innovative approaches and practical solutions, with a focus on real-life case studies and works-in-progress reports. 

We focused on: 

  • Whether standards should be the priority in ensuring that the English language ability of students is adequate for their future needs. 
  • The risks of borrowing standards from one system to set goals and make policy decisions in other contexts. 
  • The alignment of existing national tests to local or international proficiency standards. 
  • How these national or international standards inform language teaching and learning. 
  • The future role of artificial intelligence in language testing, particular in large-scale assessment. 
  • The adaptation of international standards and frameworks to localized contexts. 

New Directions 2018 took place on 22-23 October at the Grand Hyatt in Kuala Lumpur and was attended by over 300 delegates, including leaders in English Language Teaching, Learning and Assessment from businesses and governments from around the world.

Conference Theme


The design, use, and implementation of language standards and proficiency frameworks in language testing and assessment, and the link between standards, assessment and the wider educational context, such as curriculum design.  


  • The alignment of existing tests to proficiency standards and the use of standards to inform the design and validation of new tests 
  • The manner in which standards can inform classroom teaching and assessment 
  • The impact of using standards to inform policy decisions and set assessment goals, either at a national or institutional level, on teaching and learning 
  • The localisation of standards and proficiency frameworks: adapting large-scale national or international standards to a more fine-grained focus on local needs 
  • The relationship between the rapid development of artificial intelligence and automated rating technology and assessments designed from and aligned to existing proficiency standards 

Key Speakers

Professor Barry O’Sullivan 
Head of Research & Development at the British Council 

Geoff Stead 
Chief Product Officer at Babbel 

Dr. Carol Spöttl 
Senior Lecturer at the School of Education, University of Innsbruck  
Head of the Language Testing Group Innsbruck (LTRGI) 

Han Baocheng 
Deputy Director of the National Research Centre for Foreign Language Education, Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) 

Dr. Hanan Khalifa 
Head of Research & International Education, Cambridge Assessment English 

Dr. Souba Rethinasamy 
Associate Professor, Faculty of Language and Communication, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak