German parliamentarian: Treat other languages with respect, not fear

Member of the German Bundestag Johann Saathoff (SPD, Norden in East Frisia) held a speech at the German parliament on 2 March denouncing a motion by the right-wing Alternative for Germany party to amend the constitution to make German the only national language. Saathoff, who is a native speaker of the regional minority language Plattütsch or Low German, code-switched between his two languages during his speech, making parliamentary history in Germany. Read the speech in the original here, or read our English translation.


Census 2021: An opportunity to acknowledge multilingualism

A group of linguists have asked the UK Statistics Authority to consider re-drafting the question on languages other than Welsh and Gaelic ahead of the next national census planned for 2021. They say that the question ‘What is your main language?’, which was used in the 2011 census, fails to capture the full picture of the country’s language diversity and many individuals’ use of multiple languages.

Click here to read more. 

Manchester marks International Mother & Father Language Day

International Mother Language Day is held every year on 21 February to promote awareness of language diversity and multilingualism. Led by UNESCO, it has been observed across the world since 2000, inspired by events surrounding the Bengali language movement in Bangladesh in 1952.

In Manchester, the day is observed through educational and cultural events held at local libraries and schools. On 21 February 2017, a central event took place for the first time, facilitated by Multilingual Manchester, with community representatives, city council officers and executive members, and practitioners, to discuss Manchester’s vision as a City of Languages. This year’s activities take place again all across the city and involve exhibitions, interactive games, and poetry reading.

To mark this year’s events, Multilingual Manchester is calling on institutions and communities around the world to re-brand 21 February as International Mother & Father Language Day, in order to honour contributions made by parents in all possible family constellations, and to flag the responsibility of all parents to promoting heritage, skills, and a basis for building bridges across cultures through language.

Peer Interpreting at Migrant Support

Multilingual Manchester is working with Migrant Support to deliver interpreter skills training as part of a project that seeks to understand migrant experience of English language learning, and translation and interpreting provision in the City of Manchester.

Dr Rebecca Tipton is working with a group of advanced English language learners to develop interpreting skills designed to support research and facilitate awareness of how to progress to professional interpreter status through advanced training and accreditation.

The project places emphasis on peer interpreting, which is very different to the type of interpreting carried out by professional interpreters in public service settings. In peer interpreting, the interpreter is involved as a co-interviewer and co-discussant in the research interview, in addition to providing interlingual communicative support.

You can find out more about the training here.

New MLM paper: ‘Urban Multilingualism and the Civic University: A Dynamic, Non-Linear Model of Participatory Research’

A new MLM paper, titled ‘Urban Multilingualism and the Civic University: A Dynamic, Non-Linear Model of Participatory Research’, will appear in the journal Social Inclusion.

Drawing on the example of Multilingual Manchester, the paper shows how a university research unit can support work toward a more inclusive society by raising awareness of language diversity and thereby helping to facilitate access to services, raise confidence among disadvantaged groups, sensitise young people to the challenges of diversity, and remove barriers. The setting (Manchester, UK) is one in which globalisation and increased mobility have created a diverse civic community; where austerity measures in the wake of the financial crisis a decade ago continue to put pressure on public services affecting the most vulnerable population sectors; and where higher education is embracing a neo-liberal agenda with growing emphasis on the economisation of research, commodification of teaching, and a need to demonstrate a ‘return on investment’ to clients and sponsors. Unexpectedly, perhaps, this environment creates favourable conditions for a model of participatory research that involves co-production with students and local stakeholders and seeks to shape public discourses around language diversity as a way of promoting values and strategies of inclusion.

The paper is available to read here: