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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

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About Us

"Mobilising and Releasing the Potential of Language Heritage for Education, Integration and Mobility of Bilingual Migrant Children Across the Lifespan' - A Community Manifesto                                                                       

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, French, German, 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. 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 Regional University-School-Community Partnership and an International Research Consortium to promote the value of multilingualism and language heritage for education, integration and mobility of bilingual migrant children


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 Linguistics, Bilingual/Multilingual Education, Foreign Language Education, Community/Heritage/Indigenous Language Education, Language/Literacy across the Curriculum, and Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language.


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. For research collaboration and consultancy, please contact Yongcan Liu.

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 Cambridge Bilingual Groups, a volunteer support organisation for bilingual groups and complementary schools in Cambridge. Join their facebook to follow up-to-date information on community language education.

We are also part of a flagship AHRC-funded project on multilingualism under the Open World Research Initiative, working 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 the 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:

  • Theme 1: English as an Additional Language (EAL)
    'The Cambridge EAL (CamEAL) Research Programme' (Bell Foundation)
  • Theme 2: Multilingualism and Foreign Language Learning in Schools
    'Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (MEITS)' (Arts and Humanities Research Council)
  • Theme 3: Community/Heritage/Indigenous Language Education
    'The Common Wealth of Language Heritage' (The Commonwealth Trust)
  • Theme 4: Bilingual/Trilingual/Multilingual Education
    'A Comparative Study of CLIL Didactics for Multilingual Primary Schools in the UK and the Netherlands' (British Council)
  • Theme 5: Medium of Instruction in Development and Refugee contexts

Research Domains

Languages in the home
Languages in the school
Languages in the community

Research Dimensions

Language policy
Language teaching
Language learning
Language maintenance
Language teacher development

Teaching and Learning Programmes

CRiCLE students and PhD alumni are all members of the Second Language Education Group (SLEG) in the Faculty which provides an intellectual home for colleagues researching on second, foreign, community, heritage and additional language 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 Foreign Language 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 in English as an Additional Language (EAL)
Bespoke Professional Development Courses for Community Language Teachers (CLT)
Cambridge Community School Leadership Forum
Visiting Scholar
and Visiting Student Programmes

Logo designed by David Almeida with the assistance of Clare Yerbury