Linguistically diverse city opens its language barriers
12 Mar 2015
Manchester – one of the most linguistically diverse cities in Europe – is getting a unique new service aimed at helping to break down language barriers and integrate local communities.
The Language Forum, which is being launched this week, will work to ensure all communities in Manchester get equal access to services.
The initiative, led by The University of Manchester’s Multilingual Manchester project, will support the language needs of residents in the city, which is thought to have the densest multilingual population for its size in the UK.
The Forum is being co-convened by the NHS Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups, The Big Life Group, and Manchester College and is the first programme of its kind in the UK. It will link up key sectors in the city and invite participation from interested stakeholders.
The Forum will focus on the advantages of maintaining community languages, on innovative ways of meeting interpretation and translation needs, and on ways to provide support for people to learn English. Another key driver is to harness Manchester’s language diversity and use this asset to benefit the city and its people in the future.
Professor Yaron Matras directs the University of Manchester’s Multilingual Manchester project. He said: “In Manchester the community languages with the largest number of speakers are Urdu, Arabic, Chinese, Bengali, Polish, Panjabi, and Somali. This city can boast an estimated 200 different languages spoken by its long-term residents.”
Matras continued: “I can confidently say that our numerous languages are not a barrier, but a rich resource which holds powerful potential on a local and global scale. We hope the Language Forum will benefit schoolchildren, their careers and their communities in the near future, and push Manchester ahead in global commerce.”
Notes for editors
Professor Matras is available for comment via the Media Relations Office.
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