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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 (Associate Fellow)

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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 before completing an ESRC-funded PhD in Second Language Education at the University of Cambridge. This classroom-based study explored the development and cross-linguistic transfer of language learning strategies between modern foreign language and English classrooms. Karen was also part of a longitudinal project investigating the language development and social integration of students who speak English as an additional language. 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. Karen teaches and supervises on the Masters course in Research in Second Language Education (RSLE), contributes to the PGCE course in Modern Foreign Languages and supervises undergraduate students in Education.

Academic Area/Links

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Research Interests

  • Teaching and learning of Modern Foreign 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 Foreign Languages)
    • PhD/EdD
  • Undergraduate
    • Language, Communications and Literacies (Paper Coordinator)
    • Research and Investigation project supervisor 

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Principal and Recent Publications

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

Forbes, K. (in press). 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.

Forbes, K. (in press). Exploring first year undergraduate students’ conceptualisations of critical thinking skills. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Forbes, K. & Fisher, L. (2018). Strategy development and cross-linguistic transfer in foreign and first language writing. Applied Linguistics Review. DOI:

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). The role of individual differences in the development and transfer of writing strategies between foreign and first language classrooms. Research Papers in Education. DOI: 10.1080/02671522.2018.1452963

Evans, M., Fisher, L., Forbes, K., Liu, Y. (2018). The form and functions of newcomer EAL pupils' speech in English: patterns of progression and communication in semi-structured interview dialogue. Language and Education. DOI: 10.1080/09500782.2018.1445756

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.