University’s bilingual poetry contest Mother Tongue Other Tongue

MTOT group shot of winners cheering

Schoolchildren have picked up awards in a bilingual poetry competition that celebrates the diverse array of languages spoken in modern classrooms.

They were taking part in the national Mother Tongue Other Tongue contest that is co-ordinated by Manchester Metropolitan University and divided into two sections, one for children who do not have English as a first language or who speak a different language at home and another for the languages learned at school.

Pupils from schools across region visited the University on Wednesday for a regional prize-giving and performance ceremony.

The annual competition – now in its fifth year – is just one of the activities of Routes into Languages, a national programme promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility in education.

Unique contest

Yasmin Hussain, Project Manager for Routes into Languages North West based at Manchester Metropolitan University, 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 and we have received over 24,000 entries in over 70 languages.”

The winning and highly commended entries were in Spanish, Italian, Polish, Russian, Arabic, Farsi, Bengali, Dhivehi – the language of The Maldives – French, German, Italian, Urdu and Mandarin.

The awards were handed out by role model Annie Zaidi, the first female Muslim UEFA B coach, who last month collected a British Empire Medal and is a past winner of the Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration at the Sportswomen of the Year Awards.