Multilingualism in a post-industrial city: policy and practice in Manchester

Yaron Matras, Alex Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Manchester (England), one of the first industrial cities, is now home to over 150 languages. Ethnic minority and migrant communities take active steps to maintain heritage languages in commerce and through education. The paper introduces a model for a holistic approach to profiling urban multilingualism that relies on triangulating a variety of quantitative data sets, observations, and ethnographic interviews. We examine how responses to language diversity reflect an emerging new civic identity, but at the same time rely on private and voluntary sector initiative: While the city officially brands itself as multicultural to attract foreign investment, language provisions are local, responsive, and de-centralised and often outsourced, and aim primarily at ensuring equal access to public services rather than to safeguard or promote cultural heritage or even to cultivate language skills as a workforce resource that is vital to economic growth. In such a complex and dynamic setting, there is a need for a mechanism to continuously monitor changes in language profiles and language needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-314
Number of pages19
JournalCurrent Issues in Language Planning
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • Manchester
  • economic growth
  • immigrant languages
  • language policy
  • multilingualism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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