In Manchester, more than 200 languages are spoken and more than 50 languages appear on signs in public spaces.
Multilingual Manchester, a research, learning and engagement initiative led by Professor Yaron Matras, promotes awareness of language diversity both on campus and in the city-region.
Using a model of civic university engagement, it creates a setting in which students and staff contribute to and support the work of local stakeholders, such as the NHS and Manchester City Council, by using engagement to trial research ideas and gain research insights.
“Our approach to language highlights its value for everyday activities in the context of local communities. We have developed a city narrative that sees languages as a way of ensuring access to services, as the foundation of cultural heritage, and as a key resource of skills; it emphasises that everyone benefits from embracing and harnessing language diversity.”
Professor Yaron Matras
Recent activities include:
- setting up a Supplementary School Support Platform bringing together representatives from over a dozen community-run weekend schools that teach community languages to share good practice;
- providing teacher training sessions;
- supporting public events;
- running curriculum enrichment sessions delivered by staff and students in collaboration with the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology.
Multilingual Manchester has also shaped the city’s public narrative on languages and has drafted a concept for a City Language Strategy, which will be the first language strategy adopted by a major European city.
Find out more on the Multilingual Manchester website.