Keeping Arabic alive in the city


Arabic speakers in Manchester cultivate their language in various ways. Parents use Arabic in the home, alongside English, and make use of books and films as well as satellite broadcasts to expose children to Arabic. In this way, children maintain a connection to their family heritage, and acquire an important skill that is likely to give then an advantage in future career and education development.

Several hundred pupils in Manchester attend supplementary schools to expand their knowledge of Arabic and improve their reading and writing skills in the language. Supplementary schools are community-run, independent organisations that teach children language, culture and religion on weekends or after-hours, alongside mainstream education. They play an important role in the maintenance of Arabic in the city.

More than a dozen supplementary schools currently teach modern Arabic in Manchester, in addition to numerous initiatives that teach Arabic as a language of prayer to Muslims who are not speakers of Arabic. Some of these schools offer pupils the opportunity to take Arabic GCSE and A-level exams, helping the children to turn their language skills into formal qualifications.

We work together with several Arabic supplementary schools to help raise their profile, inform the public and the authorities about the important work that they do and their contribution to the development of pupils’ skills and self-confidence, and help reflect on teaching methods for language and ways to encourage pupils and parents to celebrate and develop multilingual skills. In January 2018 we launched a partnership scheme with Manchester Arabic School in Chorlton.