Researchers at the University of Birmingham are leading an 18-month investigation into how young people in linguistic minority communities view their multilingual lives.

The study, funded by the Economic & Social and Research Council, will take place in Birmingham, Manchester and London, and will involve pupils at complementary schools serving the Bangladeshi, Chinese, Gujarati and Turkish communities.

These schools are run voluntarily by communities outside normal school hours, usually during the evening or at weekends and often via home and community language classes.

The collaborative study, led by Dr Angela Creese, of the School of Education at University of Birmingham, includes researchers from King’s College, London, the University of East London and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

"We hope the study will help us to gain better understanding of young people's multilingual lives in multilingual Britain," says Dr Creese. "It covers issues such as social inclusion and how young people see their identities.

"We also want to find out whether multilingualism is perceived as an asset today. We hope to highlight the complexities of multilingual young people's identities from a linguistic perspective, and ask how they feel about the way they use language"

The study, which builds on a project in Leicester, is the first comparative sociological investigation of multilingual practices of young people from minority ethnic backgrounds in complementary schools in Britain.

"The focus is to investigate how these schools open up space for the multilingual performance of young people's identities," says Dr Creese. "Complementary schools allow them to explore different discourses and identities. They are safe places where they can try out their identities in new ways."

For more information please contact the University of Birmingham Press Office on 0121 415 8134.