Language and cultural diversity is a permanent feature of all major cities around the world, and Manchester is no exception. Over 150 languages are spoken in the Greater Manchester area. Almost half of school pupils in Manchester have a home language other than English. Communities cherish and cultivate their language heritage. Multilingualism is part of our urban landscape of public signs, posters, and banners. Many among Manchester’s work force have excellent foreign language skills, enabling them to communicate directly with business partners around the world. The city’s commercial sector includes services that specialise in international customer services, translation and interpreting, and consultancy and advertising in other languages.
At Multilingual Manchester, we promote awareness of language diversity in the city-region and beyond. We study the practical challenges and the immense opportunities that language diversity brings. We explore how it shapes people’s language repertoires and practices.
Our teaching, research and outreach strands take inspiration from current issues raised by practitioners and communities, who strive to ensure equality of access to services as well as the maintenance of Manchester’s rich array of home languages. We work with local government, healthcare providers, police and emergency services, schools and community initiatives to co-design research and to share good practice.
Students are an integral part of our work. They contribute to research and outreach activities. Multilingual Manchester has created the world’s largest online archive of research reports authored entirely by undergraduate students.
Our student volunteer scheme engages students from a range of academic disciplines. They support the work of host institutions across the city, gaining valuable insight into service delivery in a diverse, dynamic city.
The Multilingual Manchester project was founded in 2010 by Professor Yaron Matras, who was the project lead until his retirement.
Multilingual Manchester is based at the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at the University of Manchester.
Tribute to Councillor Sue Murphy, who died on 7 April 2020
Cllr Sue Murphy was elected to Manchester City Council in 1995 and served as Deputy Leader of the Council since 2010. She worked relentlessly to promote a vision of the city that celebrates diversity and actively seeks to harness its benefits and opportunities. She was a friend to the city’s many community initiatives, and a friend of Multilingual Manchester, who was always approachable and ready and able to assist with ideas and pathways to implement them.
Her speech at the launch event of Multilingual Manchester’s ‘Linguasnapp’ app on 23 February 2016 was one of the city’s first public policy statements on urban multilingualism. This quote from the speech captures Cllr Murphy’s commitment to protect, cherish and celebrate diversity:
“Our language diversity adds an exciting dimension to our opportunities to learn from each other and come to understand each other all the more. Language difference needn’t be a barrier that separates people, but a bridge to bring people together and build relationships by sharing our personal histories and values, and finding ways to communicate about language difference, not in spite of it.”
School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Samuel Alexander Building, room W2.20
University of Manchester
Tel: +44 (0)161 2755999