Principal Investigator: Thomas Gaillat

Start: January 2023 – End: December 2024

Page content:

  • Description
  • Objective
  • Partners
  • Annotators
  • Deliverables

Why does my English teacher only ever underline the mistakes in my essays? Why does it take so long to correct my essay?

The A4LL project will develop an innovative language-learning analytics system designed to assist teachers and learners with objective reports linking proficiency with linguistic features. Thomas Gaillat, the coordinator, proposes an approach relying on textual measures operationalising global and structure complexity, phraseology, discourse cohesion, and fluency. These measures will support the automatic creation of graphic reports used by teachers to diagnose their learners’ productions. A4LL’s ambition is to create the first fully automated L2 (Second language) analysis system serving learners, teachers, and researchers at university via an integrated data workflow from ingestion to analytics.


The A4LL project will deliver an L2 analytics system for learners and teachers of English at university level. The project will address 3 main research questions aiming to uncover some of the features of Interlanguage, i.e the unstable linguistic system demonstrated by learners of a second language: i) what are the language features that are related to specific proficiency levels? ii) how can these features be measured automatically? iii) how can measures be converted into meaningful analytics for descriptive feedback and teaching decisions?

Interlanguage can be seen as a complex multifactorial system which makes the identification of criterial proficiency features difficult. Over time and practice, the system gradually stabilises. However, it is not clear which factors are at play at a given point. To cast a light on how interlanguage develops, current research shows that approaches combining linguistic measurements and statistics within computer models help to highlight some features of interlanguage (Ballier et al., 2020; Yannakoudakis et al., 2018). However, current state-of-the-art metrics lack linguistic meaningfulness and so impair interpretability.


The objective is to develop a computer system that automatically generates linguistic diagnostics of learner writings. These diagnostics will therefore be visualised by teachers through MOODLE, one of the main open-source LMS in France and in the world. These diagnostics will help teachers formulate advice for their students and adapt their teaching objectives in relation to their groups’ profiles. Developing the system will imply research work to identify correlations between linguistic features and metadata including task types, proficiency, learning habits and writing ability.
The system will collect, automatically analyse and provide specific linguistic feedback for writings submitted in MOODLE (see Figure 1). By exploiting lexical, syntactic and semantic metrics, the system will point out the dimensions that require attention in each writing. Graphical visualisations will show which linguistic areas to improve for a targeted proficiency level. The system will rely on a supervised learning approach with learner data collected in the two Language Centres (in charge of 20,000 students learning English for Specific Purposes) of the two universities of Rennes. It will be modular to allow subsequent integration of other languages.

A4LL intends to leverage the strength of two previously developed prototypes in which the coordinator participated. The first prototype, developed in 2019 (Gaillat, Simpkin, et al., 2021), provides automatic classification of learner writings according to the levels of the CEFR. The second prototype, called VizLing (Gaillat, Knefati, et al., 2021), and developed in 2019, focused on the automatic generation of graphs to visualize linguistic complexity in writings. A4LL will expand in the same avenue, but it will rely on a selection of significant and linguistically descriptive metrics for second language analysis. A4LL will unify the Natural Language Processing tasks under a single framework producing visualisations in MOODLE. It will rely on learner metadata in order to allow teachers to profile their learners and personalise feedback.
The purpose of A4LL is thus i) to offer the language teaching community data analytics tools that help position learners according to proficiency and aspects of their language. ii) to model learner language to map linguistic features with proficiency and, ultimately, interlanguage stages. A4LL intends to provide a solution for university language centres, in France and abroad, that are in charge of millions of students studying languages for professional purposes.


Rennes 2 University



PI & Associate Professor

Rennes 2 university



Research Engineer

Rennes 2 University



Ph.D. candidate

Rennes 2 University



Research Assistant and Computer programmer

University of Paris Cité



Professor of Linguistics

University of Paris Cité



Research Engineer

University of Galway



Associate professors in Statistics

University of Galway



Research Associate

Le Mans University



Associate Professor




Professor of Computer Science




Senior Research Scientist


PARTNER PROJECT Deep Learning for Language Assessment (DLLA)



CEFR Annotation

Rennes 2 University

Joanne Ward-Henry English teacher Centre de Langues

Rennes 2 University

Francoise Le Roux English teacher Centre de Langues

University of Rennes

Benedicte Dumont English teacher SCELVA

University of Rennes

Pascale Janvier English teacher SCELVA


Linguistic Annotation

Université Paris Cité Jessica Tayeh Master Student CLILLAC-ARP Univ Paris Cité



  1. Mallart C.,  Simpkin, A., Ballier, N., Stearns, B., Lissòn, P., Li, J.-Y.., & Venant, R., Gaillat, T. (2023) Exploring a New Grammatico-functional Type of Measure as Part of a Language Learning Expert System. Proceedings of the 18th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications (BEA 2023), Jul 2023, Toronto, Canada. pp.466-476, ⟨10.18653/v1/2023.bea-1.39⟩. ⟨hal-04195781⟩
  2. Gaillat, T. (2022). Language learning analytics: Designing and testing new functional complexity measures in L2 writings. Proceedings of the 11th Workshop on NLP for Computer Assisted Language Learning, 55.
  3. Mallart, C., Ballier, N., Li, J.-Y., Simpkin, A., Stearns, B., Venant, R., & Gaillat, T. (2023). A new learner language data set for the study of English for Specific Purposes at university level. 4th Conference on Language, Data and Knowledge. LDK2023, Vienna, Austria.
  4. Ballier, N., Mallart, C., & Gaillat, T. (2023). Grammatical profiling with UD annotation (WiP). Workshop on Profiling second language vocabulary and grammar – 2023, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  5. Gaillat, T., Mallart, C., Faugère, A., Simpkin, A., Stearns, B., Lissòn, P., Li, J.-Y., Ballier, N., & Venant, R. (2023). Analytics for Language Learning  Transmettre aux enseignants les profils linguistiques de leurs apprenants. SAES conference – GERAS workshop, Université Rennes 2.



Software Dataset

English for Specific Purposes Dataset on Nakala
Credits: Many thanks to the language teachers
of the universities of Rennes for their involvement


Credits: A4LL logo designed by Sidonie Tosser – Licence: CC-BY-NC 4.0