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CRiCLE Network

Cambridge Research in Community Language Education Network: A University-School-Community Partnership to Unlock the Potential of Migrant Children

CRiCLE logo

We work with children, for the community, and through partnership.

"Our mission is to mobilise the linguistic capital and cultural heritage in homes, schools and communities to support bilingual children on the move"

About Us                                                  

CRiCLE-Net was established in 2014 as a research and impact initiative, hosted by the Second Language Education Group (SLEG) in the Faculty of Education. It provides a research forum where policy makers, academics, practitioners and research students in Cambridge, and more broadly at national and international levels, can engage in critical debates on language, heritage and migration.

‘Community languages’ refer to a wide range of minority languages that exist alongside the dominant official/national language(s) in society, and are in use mainly at home, among cultural/religious groups and/or within diaspora communities. In the UK context, community languages include, for example, Arabic, Bengali, Catalan, Cantonese, Dutch, Farsi, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Lithuanian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Somali, Swahili, Tamil, Turkish, Urdu, Yoruba, among many others.

Research in this field emerges in response to the global trend of transnational migration and the increasing needs of immigrant communities to preserve their heritage languages and cultures. In a broad sense, relevant research has been conducted under different names, such as 'asset language' in England, ‘community language’ in Australasia and the UK, 'migration language' in Europe, 'home language' in Africa, 'heritage language' in the Americas and Asia, and 'refugee language' in conflict zones. In the UK, community language education has become an important field of research in recent years and there is a need for a dedicated initiative to look at the education of bilingual children on the move in homes, schools, communities and refugee camps and to support them to maintain their heritage language across the lifespan.


To establish a local University-School-Community Partnership and an International Research Consortium to promote the value of multilingualism and language heritage in education, integration and mobility of bilingual migrant children and youth


The CRiCLE-Net has both an international and a local focus and pursues an interdisciplinary approach to policy, theory and practice of community language education. The aims of the CRiCLE-Net are:

  • To provide a research forum where policy makers, academics, practitioners and research students can exchange ideas and expertise in community language education;
  • To collaborate with local, regional, national and international institutions to identify critical issues in community language education and to engage in theoretical and methodological debate on these issues;
  • To develop a corpus of research evidence that can advise the development of community language education policy and practice;
  • To build interdisciplinary connections and create grounds for cross-fertilisation among Applied/Educational Linguistics, Bilingual/Multilingual Education, Second/Foreign Language Education, Community/Heritage Language Education, Minority/Indigenous Language Education, Language/Literacy across the Curriculum, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)/Languages Other Than English (LOTE).


The governance of the network is supported by an executive committee, an international advisory panel, a school advisory board and a working group. The network also plays an active role in supporting local schools and communities and serves as a research resource centre for community language education in the East of England.


Members of the CRiCLE network are well connected to the University's interdisciplinary research initiatives on Migration, Language Sciences, Public Policy and Heritage Research.

Language, Heritage, Migration Research Group
Cambridge Migration Research Network
Cambridge Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement
Cambridge Language Sciences Strategic Research Initiative
Cambridge Interdisciplinary Center for Language Sciences
Cambridge Public Policy Strategic Research Initiative
Center for Science and Policy (CSaP)
Cambridge Heritage Research Centre


CRiCLE works in partnership with local community schools and Cambridge Bilingual Groups, a volunteer support organisation for bilingual groups and supplementary schools in Cambridge. Join their facebook to follow up-to-date information on community language education. Together, we also offer hands-on support and provide step-by-step guidance to help ethnic minority communities to set up their own community language schools.

We also have a long-standing partnership with the Bell Foundation working on reseach and development projects on EAL teaching and assessment in schools.

A campain called 'We are Multilingual' is being led by Linda Fisher which forms part of a flagship AHRC-funded project on multilingualism under the Open World Research Initiative. We work in partnership with Association for Language Learning (ALL), National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC), Cambridgeshire County Council and the Bell Foundation. Please follow project updates on blogs, news, events and Twitter.

Research Programmes

Members of CRiCLE have been involved in a range of projects within five research programmes, each with a distinctive theme:


Community Language School Network, in collaboration with the local support organisation Cambridge Bilingual Groups

EAL Assessment Framework for Schools (2.0) and the Digital Tracker, in collaboration with the Bell Foundation

We Are Multilingual, as part of the legacies of the AHRC MEITS Project

Language Policy Forum 2020, in partnership with the Language Policy SIG of BAAL

Cambridge Masterclasses on Multilingualism, Education and Language Policy, hosted by SLEG

Research Approaches

Research Domains

Language in the home
Language in the school
Language in the community
Language in the camp
Language in the workplace

Research Dimensions

Language teaching
Language learning
Language policy
Language maintenance
Language teacher development

Teaching and Learning Programmes

CRiCLE students and alumni are all members of the Second Language Education Group (SLEG) in the Faculty which provides an intellectual home for students and staff researching on second, foreign, heritage and additional language/literacy education. The SLEG research group also hosts or involves in a range of teaching and learning programmes including:

PhD/EdD in Language and Education (LAE)
MPhil/MEd Research in Second Language Education (RSLE)
MEd Researching Practice Thesis Projects on Modern Languages in Schools (RP)
PGCE in Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)
Education Tripos (Undergraduate) Research and Investigation Projects on Language Education (R&I)
Education Tripos (Undergraduate) Core Paper in Language, Communication and Literacies (LCL)
PPD Certificate/Diploma Projects on English as an Additional Language (EAL)
Bespoke Professional Development Workshops for Community Language Teachers (CLT)

Visiting Scholar
and Visiting Student Programmes

Logo designed by David Almeida with the assistance of Clare Yerbury