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Prof Wei Li
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
20 Bedford Way
Prof Wei Li profile picture
  • Professor in Applied Linguistics
  • IOE - Culture, Communication & Media
  • UCL Institute of Education

I am Director and Dean of the IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Social Research. I hold a Chair in Applied Linguistics. I am a Fellow of the British Academy, Academia Europaea, Academy of Social Sciences, UK, and Royal Society of Arts, UK. 


Previous posts held:

2019-21, Director ESRC UBLE DTP; Chair Bloomsbury Colleges Research Committee

2011-14, Pro-Vice-Master (Research and Postgraduate Studies); 2010-14, Director, Birkbeck Graduate Research School; 2009-11 Assistant Dean, School of Social Science, History & Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London.

2002-6, Head, School of Education (formerly Faculty of Education), University of Newcastle upon Tyne. 

Member, REF 2014, Education sub-panel; Member of Hong Kong RAE 2020 Humanities Panel

Member, Panel A (Psychology, Education and Linguistics), ESRC Research Grants Assessment Board, 2010-5. 

Chair of University Council of General and Applied Linguistics (UCGAL), 2012-5

Editor, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism; Editor, Applied Linguistics Review.

Research Groups
Research Summary

My research centres around different aspects of bilingualism and multilingualism, including the acquisition of multiple languages in childhood, family language policy, education policy and practice regarding bilingual and multilingual learners of minoritized and transnational backgrounds, complementary schools, cognitive benefits of language learning, and impact of on social cognition and creativity. I am currently leading a project 'Early Childhood Bilingualism: Effects on brain structure and function' (Leverhulme, 2018-2021), with colleagues in the Great Ormond Street Hospital Institute of Child Health. I was co-investigator on a large AHRC project ‘Translation and translanguaging: Investigating linguistic and cultural transformations in superdiverse wards in four UK cities, (£1,973,527, 2014-18. AH/L007096/1) with colleagues in Birmingham, Birkbeck, Cardiff and Leeds until 2018 and an ESRC project 'Family Language Policy: A multi-level investigation of multilingual practices in transnational Families' until 2020), with colleagues in Birkbeck and Bath. Between 1988 and 2000, I was involved in three consecutive ESRC-funded research projects on language maintenance and choice in the Chinese community in Tyneside in the North East of England. In 2006-8, I worked on another ESRC-funded project on multilingual practices of complementary schools in England (RES-000-23-1180), with colleagues in Birmingham, East London and King's College London. I was CI for the ESRC seminar series ‘The Multilingual University: The Impact of Linguistic Diversity in Higher Education in English-dominant and English Medium Instructional Settings’ (ES/M00175X/1). I have also been involved other research projects on grammatical profiling of normally developing and speech disordered young English-speaking children (Nuffield Foundation) and reliability of identification and referral of speech and communication disorders in young non-standard or non-native English-speaking children (ESRC).

Teaching Summary

Research students at IOE

Wingyee (Jenifer) Ho, PhD – Assistant Professor, City University of Hong Kong

Yi Wang, PhD - Lecturer in Linguistics, Cardiff University

Kevin Wai Hin Tai, PhD - Assistant Professor in English Language Education, University of Hong Kong

Tiancheng Chen - on-going

Sahra Abdullahi - Teaching and Research Assistant, UCL

Xuran Han - Lecturer in Psychology, Greenwich University, London, UK

Alfred Jones Tsang - Lecturer, Centre for Language Education, University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong

I taught Bilingualism and Multilingualism on the MAs in Applied Linguistics and TESOL, and contribute to PGCE Modern Foreign Languages and generic research training for doctoral students.

01-JAN-2011 – 31-DEC-2014 Pro Vice Master   Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom
01-JAN-2009 – 31-DEC-2014 Director Birkbeck Graduate Research School Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom
01-JAN-2002 – 31-DEC-2006 Head of School School of Education University of Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
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