Mother Tongues

Mother Tongues is a social enterprise working to promote multilingualism and intercultural dialogue in Ireland.
Since our foundation in 2017 we have inspired many schools, libraries and community organisations to embrace multilingualism and act as catalysts for change, showing that Ireland welcomes all linguistic and cultural identities, and inspiring future generations of bilingual and multilingual children.
Our goal is to inspire everyone in society to be open to linguistic and cultural diversity and value the benefits that multilingualism brings to individuals, communities and to our society as a whole. Children can reach their full potential by developing English alongside Irish and their family language, but to do so they need parents who are motivated to keep up their mother tongue, teachers who are positive about every language and a society that welcomes linguistic diversity in all its forms.
This is why the projects we develop at Mother Tongues focus on children, by offering them opportunities to develop their language skills, parents, giving them the confidence to transmit their language to their children and teachers, enhancing their awareness of linguistically responsive practice. We work all over Ireland and collaborate with many organisations in the delivery of our programmes.

We do this through three interconnected goals:

  1.  Educating and empowering parents and educators
  2. Creating networks and support groups for multilingual families
  3. Raising awareness of the benefits of multilingualism and intercultural dialogue for individuals and society.
  1. We reach our goals by:
  1. Harnessing the power of creativity to promote intercultural dialogue
  2. Educating professionals working with multilingual children
  3. Empowering parents raising multilingual children
  4. Working with partners and stakeholders to develop inclusive linguistic and cultural policies
  5. Combating stereotypes associated with migration and multilingualism

To reach our goals we work with public and private partners such as government departments, charities, local authorities, businesses, health services, universities and research centres, community groups, arts and culture organisations.

To reach our goals we work with public and private partners such as government departments, charities, local authorities, businesses, health services, universities and research centres, community groups, arts and culture organisations.

Our Mission

“To create a space that fosters
belonging and celebrates linguistic 

and cultural identities through education
and the arts”

Our Vision

“We envision a society that openly
embraces different cultures and
languages”

The people behind the magic

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Dr Francesca La Morgia

Director

Dr Francesca La Morgia is is the founder and director of Mother Tongues. Francesca has an MPhil in Applied Linguistics from Trinity College Dublin and a PhD in bilingual language acquisition from DCU. She lectured in language development from 2010 to 2021 across various universities, holding posts at the University of Reading, Trinity College, Ulster University and Maynooth University. 

Francesca’s work within Mother Tongues focuses on Learning, Research and Policy development across education and the arts. 

elena cristofanon

Elena Cristofanon

Operations Manager

Elena Cristofanon is an Italian creative with a growing passion for project management. She oversees the management of all the projects and the marketing of Mother Tongues. Elena has been behind the scenes of Mother Tongues since the very beginning, in 2017 and is extremely proud of its fast growth. With an academic background in Art History and Standards for Education in Museums, she continued her studies in Ireland in the area of Marketing, Management and Web Design.
She has been recently awarded the Arts Council’s Agility Award to expand the Contatto project on a national scale. 

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Soraya Sobrevía

Education & Learning Projects Coordinator

Soraya is a linguist, she holds an Honours degree in English Philology by Universidad de Zaragoza, an MA in Translation Studies from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Certificate in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in University College Dublin. Soraya loves language, and the relationship between language and identity is a passionate subject that has guided much of what she has done in her professional life. She has previously worked in diversity and inclusion through grassroots advocacy, community outreach, and education. Soraya oversees the education programmes and family activities in Mother Tongues. She is the mother of two daughters who are being raised multilingually.

Board of Directors

Ivan Bonchev

Chair Person

Ivan has 23 years of experience working for both the private and non-for-profit sectors, ranging from EU development programs to multinational companies’ international assignments in developing countries. He has been performing in different industries: manufacturing, FMCG, consulting, private equity and venture capital. Ivan has gained valuable functional expertise, ranging from business development and sales, operations, finance, strategy, management advisory services and finally overall general management. Geographically, his academic and work experience has given him the opportunity to live and work in many countries: Bulgaria, Spain, The Netherlands, The UK, France, Singapore, the USA, Germany, Russia and the CIS countries. Born in Bulgaria and educated abroad, Ivan speaks 5 languages (Bulgarian, English, Spanish, Russian, French and German) and he is very passionate about multiculturalism and multilingualism. Ivan has been involved in philanthropy, charity, NGO and education for number of years.

Maria Golpe Varela

Secretary

Originally from Galicia, in Northern Spain, Maria is a native Galician speaker and a parent in a multilingual household. She has a degree in Journalism and a post graduate certificate in Digital Marketing and she works in Communications and Marketing in the travel industry.

Phaedra Vlahos

Phaedra Vlahos​

Phaedra is Greek but grew up in Ireland. She is an artist and works for the Dublin Simon Community. Her passion is art and philanthropy and she has recently been one of the organisers of Dublin Simon’s annual art event called Scrappy But Happy, and has put together a virtual gallery display which she sees as being the current future of art shows under lockdown. Phaedra wants to offer her support and knowledge for the Mother Tongues cause as it ties in – not only to her personal ethos – but to her professional passions

Caroline Walters

A Limerick native, Caroline holds an honours degree in Applied Languages, a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration and a Masters in Business Management from the University of Limerick. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Education from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. Caroline’s love of languages started with Gaeilge from an early age and she now counts German, Spanish and French as languages that are close to her heart! Caroline is passionate about embracing and learning from other cultures and she loves to travel. Caroline currently works as a primary school teacher full time having worked in the business world up until 2012. She and her Spanish husband are raising their young children in a busy bilingual household!

David MacHale_Ciorcal

David MacHale​

David is a Marketing and Brand Director with experience working with startups through to multinational companies. He helps organisations differentiate their brand and engage with audiences across traditional and digital channels. He has previously worked in marketing roles with Oracle-Micros software, Tokheim fuel retailing, and Olive learning and media. Today, David is Senior Brand Director for Travelport, a global travel technology business, Winner of 2019 Spiders Award, 2018 Irish Content Marketing Award, and nominated for 2020 All Ireland Marketing (AIM) Awards. He is passionate about culture, design, and data.

Shauna McDaniel

Shauna McDaniel

Shauna is a driven and passionate sales leader with 7+ years of sales experience within the Tech industry. Her expertise lies in managing multi-cultural, multi-talented sales professionals. In her spare time, she is currently completing a Masters in Business (Leadership & Management Practices) at Smurfit Business School in UCD. She hopes that her previous learnings of Cultural Studies and Linguistics, combined with her in-depth knowledge of business development, digital marketing and strategy, will enable her to offer expert guidance in these areas on the Mother Tongues board. As a diversity advocate, she is so excited to be a part of the growth in multilingualism in Ireland.

Salvo Cacciato

Salvo Cacciato

Salvo moved to Ireland from Sicily in 2003. He completed a Masters degree in the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures of Catania and his Masters thesis was on Bilingualism and Early Language Learning. He is a teacher of French and Italian at secondary level in Ireland. He is currently seconded as Modern Foreign Languages Advisor with JCT. He is also the Chairperson of the Association of Teachers of Italian in Ireland (ATI). He has a passion for researching digital learning technologies applied to language learning and a firm believer in multilingualism as a way to learn about cultures and opening to tolerance.

Tarisai May Chidawanyika

Tarisai Chidawanyika

Tarisai was born in Zimbabwe and moved to Ireland when she was 12. She can happily say both Zimbabwe and Ireland raised me. Her mother tongue is Shona. She studied Law and will be qualified as a lawyer on 29 November 2020. She is passionate about all things diversity and inclusion. Her main skills include presentation and written and verbal communication. She loves languages and she is constantly in awe of multilingual people. She moved to France a few years ago to learn French, but unfortunately she lost her French so she is hoping to pick it up. She is excited to be a part of Mother Tongues!

Síne Nic an Ail

Síne Nic an Ailí

Síne is a lover of languages, a former Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA), and a passionate Irish speaker. She has extensive experience in grassroots advocacy, cultural diplomacy, facilitation, community outreach, education, and communications. As director of Cultúr Club, she developed Irish-language and -culture resources to strengthen a sense of Irish identity among children of the diaspora. She has worked with other lesser used language communities around the world in a bid to share experiences in language activism and education. She is currently helping Mother Tongues formulate a long-term strategic vision for multilingualism in Ireland, and aims to help new communities integrate into society by sharing Irish language and culture.

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Agnieszka Pedrak

Aga is currently a PhD student of Trinity College Dublin (School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences) where she is doing research on Polish as a heritage language in Ireland. Before coming to Ireland, she studied in Poland and Germany to complete her MA in Linguistics & Communication and her BA in English (interpreting and translation). Since 2016, she has been working as a Polish language teacher in Polish supplementary schools in Ireland, and has recently also delivered online language teaching. Agnieszka has been involved with Mother Tongues since 2017 and among other initiatives, she has been working on the organisation of the annual Heritage Language Education Conference for the last 3 years. Privately, she is a mum raising her daughter with Polish and English and she runs a blog about bilingualism for Polish families worldwide:

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