Using the school setting to map community languages: a pilot study in Manchester, England

Yaron Matras, Alex Robertson, Charlotte Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recording the home languages of schoolchildren has long been acknowledged as a useful way of mapping community multilingualism. However, the need to process large quantities of data on many different languages has meant that in order to assess the vitality of community languages, researchers have had to rely on schoolchildren's self-reported language preference and proficiency. Moreover, large scale data collection among minors poses ethical and data protection issues. We describe a pilot study carried out in Manchester, England, in which a method was tested to record home language proficiency based on rapid, anonymous speech acts. These were correlated with respondents’ self-reported exposure to their home languages. The results indicate that different factors can play a role in language maintenance in different communities, and that home language maintenance does not have an adverse effect on proficiency in the majority language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-366
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Taylor & Francis.


  • Community languages
  • Manchester
  • language vitality
  • multilingual schools
  • repertoire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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