International Mother Language Day 2023
Celebrating today and every day!
This year’s edition of International Mother Language Day focuses on the theme ‘multilingual education – a necessity to transform education’. As UNESCO data indicates, more and more languages are under threat, being slowly replaced by more dominant languages. However, these are not the population’s mother tongue, and the negative impact on education is evident, considering that 40% of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. Multilingual education has the potential to transform education, making it more inclusive and accessible for all.
Act as an ambassador
On this International Mother Language Day, we would like to encourage all educators engaging with children and young people at any level, to act as ambassadors for the maintenance of heritage languages/mother tongues.
We have developed a tool to support you, our flyer “Your language is important”, available in 12 languages, which you can print or share with your community.
As we celebrate International Mother Language Day, it is natural to reflect on the role that languages play in Irish society today. Hundreds of languages can be heard in our neighbourhoods, both in urban and rural centres, and more and more children (we estimated 1 in 5) are born into a household where more than one language is spoken. The Languages Connect programmes have been implemented in the last few years with the goal of enhancing the linguistic skills and the attitudes of Irish students from the early years, and now thousands of children have had a taste of a language they may have never come across before. All these changes are positive, and not only for the future of languages. In line with UNESCO, we believe that cultural and linguistic diversity are essential for societies to be sustainable and to foster tolerance and respect for others.
Every language matters
Understanding that every language matters to its speakers, that every language encapsulates a set of memories, values and shared norms and shared understanding, is fundamental for us as citizens to embrace a positive attitude to multilingualism. To us at Mother Tongues, this is particularly relevant when it comes to educators supporting families in keeping up their linguistic heritage, as we know how much the educators’ views can be influential in a child’s and their family’s life. Educators have the power to enhance a child’s sense of belonging and self-confidence by embracing linguistic diversity. Therefore, on this UNESCO celebration, we encourage everyone to act as an ambassador for multilingualism, today and every day!