Multilingual Manchester – Engaging with language diversity in Manchester, UK

Seminar/Forum

Multilingual Manchester – Engaging with language diversity in Manchester, UK

Manchester is home to over 150 languages, and language and cultural diversity are permanent features of the city. Close to 20% of Manchester’s adult population declared a language other than English to be their ‘main language’ in the 2011 census (compared to a national average of about 8%). Almost half of school pupils in Manchester are thought to have a home language other than English (School Census 2015). This presentation introduces Multilingual Manchester, a research unit based at the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (The University of Manchester). We celebrate and promote awareness of the city-region’s linguistic diversity, study the practical challenges and explore the immense opportunities that language diversity brings. Since 2010, Multilingual Manchester (MLM) has delivered research, public engagement and student volunteering strands. We study policy responses to language diversity in the globalised urban environment, and explore community-based initiatives set up to maintain heritage. Our teaching, research and outreach 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 authorities, service providers, police and emergency services, schools and community initiatives to co-design research and to share good practice. In 2015, MLM launched LinguaSnapp, the world’s first mobile application designed to record and map multilingual signage. We have since launched additional versions of the app, to capture linguistic landscapes in cities including Jerusalem and Melbourne (in collaboration with The University of Melbourne). Students are an integral part of our work. MLM has created a large online archive of research reports on urban multilingualism authored by undergraduate and postgraduate 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. This talk presents an overview of our recent research and public engagement activities, including work on linguistic landscapes, community language provisions, and our work with local authorities, service providers and schools.

Presenters

  •  Alex Robertson
    Alex Robertson, University of Manchester
  •  Leonie Gaiser
    Leonie Gaiser, University of Manchester