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Yongcan Liu


Professor of Applied Linguistics and Languages Education

E-mail Address


+44 (0)1223 767638


  • PhD in Second Language Education (University of Cambridge)
  • MPhil Research in Second Language Education (University of Cambridge)
  • MA Linguistics and Applied Linguistics (Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China)
  • BA English Linguistics and Translation Studies (Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China)

Professional Bodies/Associations

  • Home/Heritage/Community Languages Advisory Group (British Council and Association for Language Learning)
  • Convener of Cambridge Research in Community Language Education Network
  • Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement (School of Humanities and Social Sciences)

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Yongcan's research seeks to deepen the debate about multilingualism and education in migration contexts. He brings together three related fields, i.e. 'heritage language maintenance', 'language across the curriculum', and 'foreign language education', in an integrated programme to address relevant issues among migrant children and youth. His recent projects examine the role of language in schooling and the knowledge base of teaching in various contexts of mobility, diversity and geopolitical uncertainty.   

Yongcan has worked on a series of linked projects funded by the Bell Foundation on EAL children's language development, social integration and educational achievement. He is co-author of the 'Principles of EAL Assessment' and the 'EAL Assessment Framework for Schools' which won a British Council ELTons award. To understand the contributions of community/heritage languages to the development of plurilingual individuals and multilingual societies, he founded Cambridge Research in Community Language Education Network (CRiCLE-Net) and the Language, Heritage, Migration initiative. 

Academic Area/Links

  • Second Language Education Group
  • Cambridge Language Sciences
  • Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement

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Research Topics and Interests

I am already full for supervision and hosting visitors, and won't be able to consider further applications for 2024-2025 entry.

Home/heritage/community language education

Language of schooling and the knowledge base of language teaching in multilingual contexts

Sociocultural theory and instructional designs of ZPD for second language development

Language teacher cognition and teacher learning in (digital) communities of practice

Development, validation and evaluation of language teacher knowledge/competence/assessment frameworks

Current Projects

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Course Involvement

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Selected Publications

Zhou, Y., & Liu, Y. (2022). Theorising the dynamics of heritage language identity development: A narrative inquiry of the life histories of three Chinese heritage speakers. Language and Education. DOI:10.1080/09500782.2022.2068351  

Leung, C., Evans, M., & Liu. Y. (2020). English as an additional language assessment framework: Filling a void in policy and provision in school education in England. Language Assessment Quarterly, 18(3), 296-315. DOI: 10.1080/15434303.2020.1869745

Liu, Y. (2019). Situated teacher learning as externalising and mobilising teachers' tacit knowledge through talk in a language teacher professional community. Research Papers in Education, 34(3), 330-351. DOI:10.1080/02671522.2018.1452956

Fisher, L., Evans, M., Forbes, K., Gayton, A., & Liu, Y. (2019). Participative multilingual identity construction in the languages classroom: A multi-theoretical conceptualisation. International Journal of Multilingualism, 17(4), 448-466. DOI: 10.1080/14790718.2018.1524896

Evans, M., & Liu, Y. (2018). The unfamiliar and the indeterminate: Language, identity and social integration in the school experience of newly-arrived migrant children in England. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 17(3), 152-167. DOI: 10.1080/15348458.2018.1433043

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

Duff, P., Liu, Y., & Li, D. (2017). Chinese heritage language learning: Negotiating identities, ideologies and institutionalisation. In O. Kagan, M. Carreira & C. Chik (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Heritage Language Education (pp. 409-422). London, New York: Routledge.

Liu, Y., & Evans, M. (2016). Multilingualism as legitimate shared repertoires in school communities of practice: Students' and teachers' discursive construction of languages in two schools in England. Cambridge Journal of Education, 46(4), 553-568.

Liu, Y. (2016). The emotional geographies of language teaching. Teacher Development, 20(4), 482-497. DOI:10.1080/13664530.2016.1161660

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.