Why International Mother Language Day designated by the United Nations General Assembly?
International Mother Language Day is a day designated by the United Nations General Assembly to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It is celebrated every year on the 21st of February, since its establishment in 1999.
International Mother Language Day 2023 : History
The significance of this day stems from an important event in the history of Bangladesh, which is the Language Movement of 1952. On this day, students and activists in Bangladesh demonstrated against the imposition of Urdu as the only national language of the country. The protest resulted in the death of several people, but ultimately led to the recognition of Bangla (Bengali) as an official language of Pakistan, which later became Bangladesh.
The day is now recognized globally as a reminder of the importance of preserving and promoting the use of mother tongues, as a means of preserving cultural heritage, fostering dialogue, and contributing to the sustainable development of societies. The theme for International Mother Language Day changes each year and is announced by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the UN body that leads the global observance of the day.
What is The Aim of International Mother Language Day?
The celebration of International Mother Language Day aims to promote and celebrate the world’s linguistic and cultural diversity, as well as multilingualism as a tool for achieving global peace, intercultural dialogue, and sustainable development. The day is also a call to action for governments, educators, and civil society to support and promote mother tongue-based education, which has been shown to improve learning outcomes and contribute to the development of a child’s cognitive abilities and social skills.
Some Recent Activities related to the International Mother Language Day
In 2022, the theme of the day was “Multilingualism for All: Improving Language Skills in a Globalized World”, which aimed to highlight the importance of multilingualism and the need for individuals to develop proficiency in multiple languages in today’s globalized world.
Many organizations, institutions, and individuals around the world observed the day by organizing events and activities that promoted linguistic and cultural diversity. Some of these activities included language festivals, cultural performances, language learning sessions, and competitions, among others. In some countries, such as Bangladesh, the day was celebrated as a public holiday, and various events and ceremonies were organized to commemorate the Language Movement and the significance of mother tongues.
Furthermore, UNESCO and its partners continued to raise awareness about the importance of mother-tongue-based education and promote the use of local languages in education. This approach has been shown to be an effective way to enhance learning outcomes and promote cultural identity and community development. Many countries and organizations have been making efforts to provide quality education in children’s mother tongues and to develop appropriate curricula and teaching materials in local languages.
Why is International Mother Language Day Important?
Through globalisation, many languages are under threat of disappearing altogether, but they are a crucial aspect of preserving cultures around the world. At least 43% of the world’s estimated 6000 spoken languages are endangered. Every two weeks, a language completely disappears, and the cultural and intellectual heritage is gone with it. 40% of the people in the world don’t have access to education in a language that they understand.
Therefore, celebrating International Mother Language Day is important because it ensures these languages are not forgotten, as well as keeping the culture, heritage and history of various societies intact. People should be proud of their mother language and want to have the drive to learn more.
Language Resources for International Mother Language Day
Brighten up your classroom with this beautifully designed International Mother Language Day Display Pack. It features a vibrant banner, illustrated borders for decorating your classroom and much more. The resources inside this International Mother Language Day Display Pack are editable; to allow you to include other languages and flags that represent your class.
Help your little ones say Hello in Different Languages with this fun card. They can send it to their friends or take it home to celebrate the day with their families. It features the greeting ‘hello’ in 18 different languages, such as English, French, Mandarin, and more.
The children will enjoy practising their colouring with this Love in Different Languages Mindfulness Activity. It would be a lovely starter activity to get children warmed up and kickstart a class-wide discussion about different languages.
These International Mother Language Day Wristbands are a great reward for your children to help celebrate this special day and the various languages spoken in your class. They come complete with a fastener too!
This World Languages Display Banner is perfect for heading a display all about languages and International Mother Language Day. You could also use these Mixed Language Good Morning Speech Bubbles to teach children how to say ‘good morning’ in a number of different languages. This is a fantastic way of promoting language diversity in your school.
We don’t just have spoken language resources – there are plenty for British Sign Language as well. Teach children how to sign the different seasons with these Seasons BSL Flashcards, featuring helpful illustrations for visual learning.
Presenting a special assembly is a great way to celebrate International Mother Language Day. Our teacher-made International Mother Language Day PowerPoint Assembly and Quiz is both informative and interactive. Let your pupils know a fun quiz is coming to encourage active listening.
International mother language day has a different theme every year.
UNESCO chooses a new theme each year but it’s always related to the overall message of celebrating and supporting languages and linguistic diversity. This year, the theme is “Indigenous languages matter for development and reconciliation.” The UN also designated 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
How to Celebrate International Mother Language Day in Australia
For those of you celebrating International Mother Language Day in Australia, we have plenty of Auslan resources too! The Inclusive Education Auslan Ultimate Resource Pack is a great place to see all of the Auslan resources we have to offer. We also suggest taking a look at this Teaching Auslan as a LOTE: Alphabet Resource Pack as it fits well in with International Mother Language Day’s theme of celebrating other languages.
International Mother Language Day is also a great opportunity to celebrate the culture of Indigenous Australians. We have plenty of great resources that educate and celebrate the language and cultures of Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.
This Indigenous Australian Language Map is a brilliant way of teaching kids where Indigenous Languages are commonly spoken in Australia. We also have some lovely materials for teaching children these languages, such as these Creole Torres Strait Islander Language Word Cards.
How to Celebrate International Mother Language Day in Scotland
If you’re celebrating International Mother Language Day in Scotland take advantage of the Gaelic medium resources we have on offer. If you want to help your students to learn more about Gaelic and the rich heritage and traditions that go with it then these resources for Gaelic learners might be perfect for your needs.Teach your students how the Gaelic language has been a part of Scottish culture since Celtic times. Perhaps, you could even teach them some basic phrases using this wonderful Meet and Greet Lesson Pack. You could even add some Scottish Food and Drink to your International Mother Language Day celebrations.
The 2011 Census showed 1.1% of the Scottish population speak Gaelic, a slight drop from 1.2% in the previous census, however is far better than the 11% drop previously. This shows something is working, and is an excellent reason to celebrate International Mother Language Day. A day specifically created to celebrate the different languages in the world and to try and stop minority languages from dying out.
Remember that Gaelic is not the only language spoken in Scotland. Many people also speak the Scots language of Southern Scotland. Just in case you were worried, we even have some Scots language resources for you to use on International Mother Language Day. You will find Scots spoken across the country, it is closer to the English language than Gaelic but still maintains a number of distinctions. If you want to introduce Scots to your classroom, then this All About Scots PowerPoint is perfect for your needs.
While Gaelic, Scots and English are the three main tongues of Scotland, there are many other languages spoken here as well. Use International Mother Language Day to celebrate all the languages spoken in Scotland and give your students the chance to learn a whole variety of different languages.
In conclusion, International Mother Language Day continues to be a significant occasion to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It is an opportunity to celebrate the world’s many languages and to raise awareness of the importance of preserving and promoting them for future generations.