Researchers at the University of Manchester’s Multilingual Manchester research unit and the University of Westminster have called for more consideration to be given to language variation and non-standard speech forms such as regional dialects in the programmes of community-based supplementary schools that teach heritage languages.
The researchers point out the importance of spoken varieties for cross-generation communication and verbal language skills in general. They argue that failure to take non-standard varieties into consideration can risk discouraging pupils from attending after-school language classes and can have an adverse affect on the transmission of heritage languages.
The position paper draws on a workshop that brought together researchers and practitioners in April 2019, co-organised by Multilingual Manchester and the University of Westminster with support from the Multilingual Communities strand of the AHRC-OWRI consortium ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Re-Shaping Community’. It was authored by Prof Yaron Matras and Dr Petros Karatsareas, with input from Dr Çise Çavuşoğlu, Dr Rasha Soliman, and Dr Birgül Yılmaz.
The paper recommends teacher training modules to raise awareness of sociolinguistic variation and equip teachers to deal with spoken varieties as part of the curriculum. It also calls on academics to engage with practitioners to raise public awareness of supplementary schools and to develop policies and pedagogical approaches to support them. The position paper can be accessed here.
On the occasion of International Mother Language Day 2020, the Multilingual Manchester research unit at the University of Manchester and Manchester Museum are kick-starting a partnership that will put language diversity firmly and permanently on the agenda of cultural institutions.
More than 200 languages are spoken in Manchester, and the city’s language mosaic is being recognised as one of its distinctive identity badges. The City of Manchester is celebrating International Mother Language Day for the third consecutive year, with events and exhibitions taking place at cultural venues across the city from 20–22 February. The full programme can be found here: http://www.manchestercityofliterature.com/international-mother-language-day/
Multilingual Manchester has been working since 2010 to study the city’s linguistic heritage and to guide citizens, communities and practitioners on the benefits of multilingualism. It has recently secured a large internal investment as part of the university’s Creative Manchester initiative, based in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures.
Manchester Museum is undergoing a transformation thanks to a £13 million project that will make it more inclusive, imaginative and relevant to the city’s diverse communities. It will feature a South Asia Gallery, a Chinese Culture Gallery and a new Exhibition Hall. The museum will mirror the city’s language diversity through practice and content, offering a space to reflect, perform and celebrate multilingu
alism, a platform for discussion and hub for encounters among individuals, groups and communities. It will connect to similar initiatives internationally, and lead other local cultural institutions to engage with languages.
The joint programme is being launched at an event at Manchester Museum on Thursday, 20 February, from 6:00-8:30pm, titled ‘How Do You Say ‘Our Kid’ in Kurdish? & Other Questions.’
It will be an evening of games, crafts and activities, with opportunities to explore the city’s languages through interactive artwork, performances, films, Q+A sessions, and more. Most activities are suited for adults and children.
Entry is free and there is no need to register.
We are delighted to be working with Manchester City Council to support citizens’ engagement with language diversity in an exciting new project, after Manchester Libraries won funding from the Engaging Libraries Programme.
The programme, which is run by The Carnegie UK Trust, the Wellcome Trust, and the Wolfson Foundation, brings 14 research projects at universities into the heart of local communities, using libraries to encourage and share learning.
You can read more about the project here.
As Europe celebrates the annual European Day of Languages on 26 September, researchers and practitioners have issued a call for a Multilingual Cities Movement.
The initiating signatories, representing various university projects, community initiatives, and individuals, are reaching out to academics, students, professionals, local government, and community activists to join forces to celebrate and harness multilingualism and language diversity.
The group’s statement of aims identifies linguistic diversity as a source of connection and enrichment. It seeks to build productive and sustainable collaboration with practitioners, communities and local government into universities’ teaching and research agendas, and to contribute to developing partnerships beyond the academy. The initiative emerged in the aftermath of a conference on university public engagement with urban multilingualism, hosted by the Multilingual Manchester research unit earlier this year.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Professor Yaron Matras said:
“There is no single model of how universities and non-academic bodies should collaborate to build positive and productive approaches to linguistic diversity, but there are many examples of good practice. We have formulated some principles as a networking platform, and we encourage others to sign up and to share their experiences with others”.
Meanwhile, Manchester City Council has released a policy report on linguistic diversity, the first of its kind in any major European city. The report links protection and harnessing of linguistic pluralism to the council’s strategic aims of supporting a city that is skilled, diverse, equitable, internationally connected and economically strong, and announces a plan to strengthen the city’s ‘multilingual offer’. The report also flags the contribution made by the University of Manchester’s Multilingual Manchester research unit to studying and raising pubic awareness of linguistic diversity in the city.
Professor Matras added:
“We are proud to have made a key contribution to this city council report, which is the first of its kind in the UK and in Europe. This collaboration is an excellent example of what our initiative for a Multilingual Cities Movement is about.”
Visit our Reports archive to read the latest MLM student reports! The reports focus on various aspects of Manchester’s multilingualism, including:
– studies on African languages in Manchester, exploring speakers’ language preferences across domains, language maintenance practices, as well as strategies to acquire and improve English alongside the maintenance of African languages;
– online and offline language practices of Manchester-based users
– research on linguistic landscapes in Greater Manchester neighbourhoods, looking at communicative and emblematic uses of written language, people’s “mental maps” of local linguistic landscapes, and changes in the landscape across time.
You can read the new reports in full here.