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.