About us

Since its inception, the Language Testing Research Centre (LTRC) has carried out many major projects for institutions and government agencies throughout the world.

Established in 1990, the Language Testing Research Centre (LTRC) at the University of Melbourne has become an international leader in research and development in language assessment and language program evaluation.

‘The History of the LTRC: 1990-2020’ was written by former LTRC Directors Cathie Elder and Tim McNamara in November 2020. This documents the journey of the Centre, from establishment in 1990 through to recent times. Follow the link below to read this.

Read about the LTRC History

Clients have included:

  • Educational Testing Service (Princeton, NJ)
  • University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (Cambridge, UK)
  • South East Asia Ministers of Education Organisation (Singapore),
  • OECD (Paris); and
  • Other agencies in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia
LTRC Team 2020
LTRC Team 2020

Language testing and assessment

Language testing and assessment is a discipline with a principled approach to designing and validating tools to assess and evaluate language abilities. The language testing field is informed by the academic disciplines of linguistics, the social sciences and education. The practice of language assessment supports just/sound decision making for policy makers, practitioners and test takers in education, migration and workplace contexts.

LTRC mission

The LTRC serves as a global leader promoting ethical and exemplary research and practice in language testing and assessment. Our aim is to build professional expertise and public understanding of the field and to advocate for appropriate testing practices on behalf of stakeholders. We provide consultancy services, policy advice and public advocacy.

What we do

  • carry out research in language testing and assessment.
  • develop and validate tests and other tools to measure abilities in English and other languages, for various purposes such as:
    • diagnosis of learning needs
    • placement into language programs
    • course admissions
    • program evaluation
    • certification of language abilities for professional / employment needs
  • provide education and training in the area of language testing and assessment
  • provide policy advice and advocate for appropriate testing and assessment practices

The LTRC subscribes to the International Language Testing Association (ILTA) Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.

Centre leadership

Associate Professor Ute Knoch, Director

Associate Professor Ute Knoch

Associate Professor Ute Knoch is the Director of the Language Testing Research Centre at the University of Melbourne. Her research interests are in the areas of assessing languages for academic and professional purposes, policy and language assessment, rater-mediated assessment and placement testing. Her recent books include Diagnostic Writing Assessment (2009, Peter Lang), Fairness, Justice and Language Assessment (2019, OUP, with Tim McNamara and Jason Fan), Assessing English for Professional Purposes: Language and the workplace (2020, Routledge, with Susy Macqueen; this book was awarded the ILTA/Sage best book published in language testing between 2017-2020), and Scoring second language spoken and written performances (2021, Continuum, with Jin Yan and Judith Fairbairn). She was the Co-president of the Association for Language Testing and Assessment of Australian and New Zealand (ALTAANZ) from 2015-2016, and currently serves as the Vice-President. She also served on the Executive Board of the International Language Testing Association (ILTA) from 2011-2014 and 2017-2019. She has been the recipient of a number of awards. In 2014, Dr Knoch received the TOEFL Outstanding Young Scholar Award by the Educational Testing Service (Princeton, US); in 2016, Dr Knoch was awarded a Thomson Reuter Women in Research citation award, and in 2020 she was awarded the Language assessment advocacy award by the International Language Testing Association (with Tim McNamara and Cathie Elder) and the Reviewer of the Year award by the journal Language Testing.

Dr Jason Fan, Deputy Director

Dr Jason Fan

Dr Jason Fan is Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Language Testing Research Centre (LTRC), University of Melbourne. His research interests include a) validity theory and validation of language assessments, b) development, use and impact of standardised language testing programmes, c) language assessment literacy, and d) research methods. He is the author of Development and Validation of Standards in Language Testing (Fudan University Press, 2018), the co-author (with Tim McNamara and Ute Knoch) of Fairness, Justice and Language Assessment (Oxford University Press, 2019), and the co-author (with Li Wang) of Working Towards a Proficiency Scale of Business English Writing: A Mixed-Methods Approach (Springer, 2021). He is the current chair of the Nominating Committee of the Asian Association of Language Assessment (AALA) and a Member-at-Large of the International Language Testing Association (ILTA, 2020-2021). He serves on the editorial board of Language Testing, and is the co-editor (with John Read) of Papers in Language Testing and Assessment: An International Journal of the Association for Language Testing and Assessment of Australia and New Zealand (ALTAANZ).

Past leaders

Past directors of the Centre include Emeritus Professor Alan Davies (Founding Director), Distinguished Professor Tim McNamara, Professor Liz Hamp-Lyons and Associate Professor Catherine Elder. All are internationally renowned for their scholarship and service in the field of language testing.