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Karen Forbes


Lecturer in Second Language Education

Bye-Fellow and Director of Studies for Education, Homerton College

Director of Studies for Education, Robinson College

E-mail Address


+ 44 (0) 1223 767603


  • PGCTLHE University of Cambridge
  • 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)
  • Association for Language Learning (ALL)
  • Higher Education Academy 

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Karen is a Lecturer in Second Language Education in the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. She previously taught modern languages in secondary schools in England before completing an ESRC-funded PhD in Second Language Education at the University of Cambridge.

Karen’s current research interests include the development and transfer of language learning strategies, multilingualism and identity, and the education of students who speak English as an additional language (EAL) in UK schools. She is currently involved in the Education strand of a large AHRC-funded project on multilingualism which explores the influence of multilingual identity on foreign language learning (see the MEITS website for more information) and is an investigator on a project exploring provision of and perspectives on higher education opportunities for EAL students (with Dr Sonia Ilie). Karen has published in a range of journals including the International Journal of Multilingualism, Research Papers in Education and Language and Education. She is also a member of the editorial board for the Cambridge Journal of Education

Karen teaches and supervises on a range of courses in the Education Faculty: she coordinates the undergraduate paper on Language, Communication and Literacies, contributes to the secondary PGCE course in Modern Languages and teaches on the Masters course in Research in Second Language Education. Karen welcomes enquiries from prospective PhD students interested in the research themes outlined above.

Academic Area/Links

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Research Interests

  • Teaching and learning of modern languages
  • Language learning strategies
  • English as an additional language in UK schools
  • Multilingualism
  • Multilingualism and identity
  • Community language education

Research Project(s)

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Course Involvement

  • Postgraduate
    • MPhil/MEd Research in Second Language Education (RSLE) course
    • PGCE-MEd Research Methods (Course Coordinator)
    • Secondary PGCE (Modern Languages)
    • PhD/EdD
  • Undergraduate
    • Language, Communications and Literacies (Paper Coordinator)
    • Research and Investigation project supervisor 

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Principal and Recent Publications

Forbes, K. (In Press). Cross-linguistic transfer of writing strategies: Interactions between foreign language and first language classrooms. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Evans, M., Schneider, C., Arnot, M., Fisher, L., Forbes, K., Liu, Y. & Welply, O. (2020). Language development, social integration and academic achievement of EAL students. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Li, J., McLellan, R. & Forbes, K. (2020). Investigating EFL teachers’ gender-stereotypical beliefs about learners: a mixed-methods study. Cambridge Journal of Education (advance online). DOI: 10.1080/0305764X.2020.1772720

Forbes, K. & Fisher, L. (2020). Strategy development and cross-linguistic transfer in foreign and first language writing. Applied Linguistics Review, 11(2), 311-339. DOI:

Luo, J. & Forbes, K. (2019). ‘It’s a plus rather than a must’: Perspectives of mainstream teachers in China on the influence of advertised educational ethos in supplementary English education. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education. DOI: 10.1080/03057925.2019.1681937

Forbes, K. (2019). The role of individual differences in the development and transfer of writing strategies between foreign and first language classrooms. Research Papers in Education, 34(4), 445-464. DOI: 10.1080/02671522.2018.1452963

Forbes, K. (2019). Teaching for transfer between first and foreign language classroom contexts: Developing a framework for a strategy-based, cross-curricular approach to writing pedagogy. Writing & Pedagogy, 11(1), 101-126.

Evans, M., Fisher, L., Forbes, K., Liu, Y. (2019). The form and functions of newcomer EAL pupils' speech in English: patterns of progression and communication in semi-structured interview dialogue. Language and Education, 33(1), 18-34. DOI: 10.1080/09500782.2018.1445756

Fisher, L., Evans, M., Forbes, K., Gayton, A., Liu, Y. (2018). Participative multilingual identity construction in the languages classroom: A multi-theoretical conceptualisation. International Journal of Multilingualism. DOI: 10.1080/14790718.2018.1524896 

Forbes, K. (2018). "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.

Forbes, K. (2018). Exploring first year undergraduate students’ conceptualisations of critical thinking skills. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30(3), 433-442.

Forbes, K. and Fisher, L. (2018). 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, 46(2), 173-185. DOI: 10.1080/09571736.2015.1010448

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, 17(4), 378-395. 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 

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.