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Karen Forbes


Research Associate

E-mail Address


+ 44 (0) 1223 767603


  • PhD University of Cambridge
  • MEd University of Cambridge
  • PGCE University of Cambridge
  • MA (Hons) University of St Andrews

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • British Education Research Association (BERA)
  • British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL)
  • Higher Education Academy (Associate Fellow)
  • Cambridge Language Sciences
  • Cambridge Research in Community Language Education network (CRiCLE)
  • Cambridge Migration Research Network (CAMMIGRES)

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Karen is a Research Associate on an interdisciplinary project entitled Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Society (MEITS). She is involved in the Education strand of the project, led by Dr Linda Fisher, which focuses on the influence of multilingual identity on foreign language learning. Karen also recently worked on a longitudinal project investigating the language development, achievement and social integration of students who speak English as an additional language in schools across the East of England. She previously taught French and Spanish in a secondary school in England, and has conducted several classroom-based studies into the development and transfer of metacognitive language learning strategies. Karen also teaches and supervises on the MPhil/MEd course in Research in Second Language Education, contributes to the PGCE course in Modern Foreign Languages and supervises undergraduate students in Education.

Academic Area/Links

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Research Topics

  • Teaching and learning of Modern Foreign Languages
  • Language learning strategies
  • English as an Additional Language in UK schools
  • Multilingualism and identity
  • Community language education

Current Research Project(s)

  • Multilingualism: Empowering individuals, transforming societies (MEITS)
  • The education of socially disadvantaged EAL (English as an Additional Language) students in UK schools: effective matching of needs to provision.
  • Cross-linguistic transfer of foreign language writing strategies: developing first and foreign language writing through metacognitive strategy use.

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  • Postgraduate
    • MPhil/MEd Research in Second Language Education (RSLE) course
    • Secondary PGCE (Modern Foreign Languages)
  • Undergraduate
    • Supervisor for Education Tripos Prelim to Part I paper (Language, Communication and Literacy)
    • Research and Investigation project supervisor (Education Tripos Part II) 

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Principal and Recent Publications

Forbes, K. (forthcoming). "In German I have to think about it more than I do in English": The foreign language classroom as a key context for developing transferable metacognitive writing strategies. In Å. Haukås, C. Bjørke & M. Dypedahl (Eds.), Metacognition in Language Learning and Teaching. Routledge.

Liu, Y., Fisher, L., Forbes, K. & Evans, M. (2017). The knowledge base of teaching in linguistically diverse contexts: 10 grounded principles of multilingual classroom pedagogy for EAL. Language and Intercultural Communication. DOI: 10.1080/14708477.2017.1368136   

Evans, M., Schneider, C., Arnot, M., Fisher, L., Forbes, K., Hu, M. & Liu, Y. (2016). Language development and school achievement: opportunities and challenges in the education of EAL students. Cambridge: Bell Foundation 

Forbes, K. and Fisher, L. (2015). The impact of expanding advanced level secondary school students' awareness and use of metacognitive learning strategies on confidence and proficiency in foreign language speaking skills. The Language Learning Journal. DOI: 10.1080/09571736.2015.1010448

Arnot, M., Schneider, C., Evans, M., Liu, Y., Welply, O., Davies-Tutt, D., & with Forbes, K. and Sutton, D. (2014). School approaches to the education of EAL students: Language development, social integration and achievement. Cambridge: Bell Foundation.

Forbes, K. (2010) A case study on the impact of a one-week Spanish exchange trip on the attitudes and productive language skills of four Year 8 pupils. Journal of Trainee Teacher Research, 1, 107-152.