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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

East Asian Studies
University Associate Professor in Chinese Language & Linguistics
Email address: 
+44 (0) 1223 335170
Fellow of: 
Newnham College
Director of Studies at: 
Churchill College

Lucy Xia Zhao taught English for a brief period of time at East China University of Science and Technology after completing her BA degree in English language and literature and MA degree in applied linguistics and intercultural communication in China. She then came to AMES at the University of Cambridge to read for an MPhil and thereafter for a PhD in Chinese linguistics and language acquisition. Upon completing her PhD degree, she was offered a lectureship in Chinese studies at the University of Sheffield and was promoted to senior lecturer in 2014. While at Sheffield she taught undergraduate Chinese language modules, MA modules in syntax and language acquisition; and supervised MA and PhD students. Apart from her academic work, Lucy also held management roles in various aspects of China engagement for the University of Sheffield. Dr Zhao returned to AMES in Cambridge in 2021 as a lecturer in Chinese language and linguistics.

Dr Zhao is a member of the Working Group of Standards, Criteria and Accreditation of International Society of Chinese Language Teaching. She is also on the editorial board of Journal of Chinese Language Teaching and Language Industry Research.



Teaching responsibilities: 

Lucy teaches and directs the modern Chinese language programme at the undergraduate level.

Supervision information: 

Dr Zhao welcomes Mphil and PhD candidates interested in second/third language acquisition and heritage language acquisition of Mandarin Chinese especially from the perspective of generative linguistics.

Research interests: 

Informed by the generative linguistic theory, Dr Zhao’s research aims to gain an understanding of the acquisition process of second language adults and heritage children, with a special focus on the acquisition of Mandarin Chinese. Her current projects investigate the role of the native language, input, nature of the linguistic phenomena, and computational complexity in the development and ultimate attainment of adult second language learners’ grammars of Mandarin Chinese; as well as the developmental trajectory, and the role of parental input and the ‘other’ language(s) in the maintenance and loss of various aspects of heritage Mandarin grammars.

Current PhD students

Xin Yan: Wh-fronting in L2 Chinese

Further publications