Yan Chu

Yan Chu


I focus on languages that teachers use in Chinese complementary schools. Complementary schools have been established for a long time in the UK and other countries. As the number of Chinese community schools increase, there are more controversial issues springing up within this educational context. Among these issues, languages adopted by teachers in classrooms, and its influence upon teacher-students relationship interest me the most.

I look at the nature of translanguaging in classrooms where students mainly speak English as their first language but with limited ability in Chinese. Teachers in these schools aim to provide support for students with Chinese language and culture. Policy makers, head teachers, parents, language teachers, even pupils have different views towards translanguaging. Moreover, there are disparities between what they claim and what they are actually practicing.

Translanguaging regards languages as dynamic, situated practices, whereby switches among languages happen spontaneously. However, according to literatures, there are debates on translanguaging. Based on these debates, my research is situated in classrooms of Chinese complementary schools. I am investigating the nature of translanguaging, especially on its influence upon teacher-students relationship, which has been less touched by literatures.

In my study I will adopt the linguistic ethnography method to get qualitative data. Hopefully, through this study, teaching implications for language teachers in Chinese complementary schools can be achieved. By using translanguaging properly, it can help teachers with their teaching quality and create an optimistic teaching & learning atmosphere. 


I come from China and spent my 4 years undergraduate study in my hometown, Harbin. 

After I have got the Bachelor degree of Arts, I went on pursuing my master degree in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) at the University of Birmingham. I was also a volunteer teacher in a Chinese complementary school while doing my master study. I teach students who have Chinese backgrounds but are in British mainstream schools. I also teach British pupils or pupils from other countries who have interests in learning Chinese for various purposes.

TI started my PhD application in the University of Leeds. At the same time, I taught English in China. I train students who are going to study overseas, so the level that I teach is English examinations for IELTS and TOEFL. 

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

I have experienced a wonderful research journey during my master study, back to 2012-2013, in the University of Birmingham. With the guidance of my supervisor, I learned ways of searching literatures, doing researches, and writing up essays. I enjoyed the feeling that researches bring to me. One year masters study passed so quickly. I feel that there are still a lot of mysteries in my academic area that are waiting for my exploration.

My experience as a volunteer teaching Chinese in the UK also inspired me to the application of PhD. As a master student studied in TEFL, I have equipped with basic theory backgrounds in language teaching and learning. So when I became a teaching assistant, these backgrounds helped me to perceive interesting points need for further studies. All of these experiences lead me to explore, to achieve, and to contribute in my specific fields.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

My passionate in this area originates from my experience as the teaching assistant in a Chinese complementary school in the U.K. Complementary schools have a long history in the UK, however, due to its nature of multi-culture and multi-language, there are still a lot of valuable aspects need to be investigated. So after I perceived some interesting gaps in this research context, I decided to do something to help students and teachers in these kind of schools. I hope to assist them with more efficient teaching pedagogies by making full use of their ‘Multilanguages’ as an advantage in language classrooms. 

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

I would like to continue with academic researches within the field of language education. I will also look for working opportunities in British universities or universities abroad.