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CRiCLE Network

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Unleashing the Potential of Bilingual Children through Collaborative Partnerships


Our mission is to mobilise the linguistic capital and cultural heritage at home, school, in the community, and within the university and memory institutions, to support bilingual children to maintain their languages across the lifespan."

About Us

CRiCLE-Net was established in 2014 as a research initiative supported by the Newton Fund. Hosted in Cambridge's Faculty of Education, it provides a research forum where practitioners, research students, academics and policy makers 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 languages that exist alongside the dominant national language(s), and are often used at home, among cultural/religious groups or within diaspora communities. In the UK context, community languages include, for example, Arabic, Bengali, Catalan, Cantonese, 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. In Cambridge, there are 33 community-led language schools/programmes operating on weekends and serving more than 2000 bilingual children in the region.

Research in this field emerges in response to transnational migration and 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, 'home language' in Africa, 'heritage language' in the Americas, 'mother tongue' in Asia, 'migration language' in Europe, and 'refugee language' in conflict zones. In the UK, community language education has become an important field of research in recent years. There is a need for a dedicated initiative to look at the education and experience of bilingual children, and to support them to maintain their languages across the lifespan.


To establish a Local Community Partnership, a Regional Support Network, and a Global Research Consortium to promote the benefits of multilingualism for education, integration and wellbeing of heritage-background 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.

We work with children, for the community and through partnership;
Our research seeks to build evidence, inform policy and improve practice.

The CRiCLE-Net aims:

  • 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 and nationally.


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 Initiative 
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 
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 which offers hands-on training for professional development of community teachers and step-by-step guidance to help ethnic communities to set up community language schools. Join their facebook to follow up-to-date information on community language education.

In a multi-stakeholder partnership, CRiCLE, Cambridge Bilingual Groups and Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum recently established the innovative Cambridge Community School Leadership Forum to facilitate rapid policy consultation and coordination of local support.

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

We also work in partnership with Association for Language Learning (ALL), National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC), and Cambridgeshire County Council in the education strand of the AHRC/OWRI project on multilingualism and language policy (MEITS) and the campaign of 'We are Multilingual' (WAM) which forms part of the legacy of the education strand of the project. 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:


Cambridge Community School Leadership Forum, created as an innovative partnership among CRiCLE, Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum, Cambridge Bilingual Groups and Norfolk County Council EAL Advisory Service, and the interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement.

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

We Are Multilingual (WAM), MFL open resources as part of the legacies of the AHRC MEITS Project

Language Policy Forum (LPF) 2020, under the sponsorship of the Language Policy SIG of BAAL

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

Cambridge Distinguished Lecture Series in Second Language Learning and Teaching, hosted by SLEG

Research Approaches

Research Domains

Languages at home
Languages at school
Languages in the community
Languages for work
Languages for Education in Emergencies

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 Multilingualism and Language Education (MuLtiE) Group in the Faculty which provides an intellectual home for students and staff researching on second, foreign, heritage and additional language/literacy education. The MuLtiE 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 Transforming Practice Thesis Projects on Modern Languages in School (TP)
PGCE in Modern 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