Mother Tongue Other Tongue

DS mothertongue

This year’s Mother Tongue Other Tongue National Celebration takes place on Wednesday 5th July.

Mother Tongue Other Tongue is a national Laureate Education Project, led by Dame Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate and Creative Director of Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The multilingual poetry competition celebrates cultural diversity and the many languages spoken in schools in the UK.

It is officially endorsed by Malala Yousafzai, youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner and education activist.

This year, the keynote speaker is Annie Zaidi, a football coach of South Asian heritage who is a winner of the Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration at the Sportswomen of the Year Awards. She will be giving out prizes to the lucky winners at the event at the Geoffrey Manton Building.

The project was originally devised by staff in the Faculty of Humanities, Languages and Social Science at Manchester Metropolitan University and Routes into Languages North West. It has been running since 2012.

Dr Sharon Handley, Pro VC Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Manchester Metropolitan University and Director of Routes into Languages North West, said: “I am delighted this year the national Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition is officially endorsed by the inspirational Annie Zaidi, winner of the Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration at the Sportswomen of the Year Awards.

“As the Director of Routes into Languages North West I am passionate about promoting languages and encouraging pupils to learn new languages.  I love the Mother Tongue Other Tongue Poetry Competition because it does just that – it celebrates the Mother Tongue, the language that is spoken at home, as well as promoting the Other Tongue, the opportunity to learn new languages at school.

“I have been very impressed with the standard of entries to the competition and would like to thank the young people and their teachers for their enthusiasm and creativity.  I was very touched by some of the entries, which engaged with very powerful issues including immigration, war, family and relationships.

“I would very much like to thank the Poet Laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy, for her creative leadership of this initiative and Amir Khan, the world-champion boxer, for his endorsement of the project. The Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition has been inspirational, and has enthused and motivated many young people to value languages and the diverse cultures of their communities.”

Yasmin Hussain, Project Manager, Routes into Languages North West, said: “Mother Tongue Other Tongue is a fantastic project. The competition is unique as it allows pupils to use their bilingualism creatively. The project has been instrumental in supporting pupils to explore their multiple identities through culture, poetry and language and sharing this with their peers. Being multilingual has many advantages and it is great that pupils learn to value this early on in their lives.

“Each year the project has gone from strength to strength, we have received over 24,000 entries in over 70 languages. I am excited this year to welcome Annie Zaidi who is going to meet the winners and award prizes.

“Annie is an outstanding role model, a maverick, her life journey is simply an example that despite barriers, achieving your dreams and ambitions is possible.”

About the Competition

There are two separate parts to the poetry competition. Children from Year 4 to Year 13 can enter one or both parts of the competition.

The Mother Tongue part of the competition requires children who do not have English as a first language, or who speak a different language at home, to share a lullaby, poem or song from their Mother Tongue. They then write a short piece in English to explain the poem’s significance to them.

The Other Tongue part of the competition encourages children learning another language in school to use that language creatively to write a poem.