International Mother Language Day

by Corey · 3 comments

Photo/poster credit: UNESCO

It is that time of year again!

The 2011 International Mother Language Day is this coming Monday, February 21st, and people around the world are gearing up in their own ways to celebrate this day.

What will you be doing to celebrate the 2011 International Mother Language Day? This year UNESCO is focusing attention on the role that Information Technology plays in the preservation, promotion and sharing of our mother tongues. Read more in this article.

Why We Should Celebrate

The most important element of this day is that it reminds us and the world that our native languages are not only important but that they represent us on very deep levels as individual human beings. We should all have the right to speak our mother tongue if we so choose and to pass it on to our children no matter where we live!

This is not a privilege, it is a right!

As I wrote in this article titled The Politics of Bilingualism, things are not always as simple as we would hope when it comes to our native languages. Often language is linked with economic and social status. We may wish not to speak our mother tongue because of how others see us and treat us when we do. This is an unfortunate consequence of our world today (and was in generations past). However, if we can be strong enough and patient enough and compassionate enough, we can embrace our mother language and let it comfort us during times of struggle for our entire life.

International Mother Language Day is about celebrating who we are wherever we are.

Learn More About the Day…

Did you know that this day was chosen on November 17, 1999 by UNESCO in recognition of an event that took place in Bangladesh on February 21, 1952? Read about this day’s tumultuous history at the International Mother Language Day wiki page.

To get inspired by people around the world celebrating this wonderful day, join the International Mother Language Day Facebook page and share your own joys of speaking your native language(s) with others who care!

I really enjoyed reading Holidays: International Mother Day which is a relatively short post that pulls together the history of the day as well as descriptions of how the day is celebrated.

Don’t miss the official UN 2011 International Mother Language Day page where you can find more information about this day as well as other activities the UN is involved with.

Read the official press release statement from the White House. Here is a quote from it: “It is a time when we remember the power of language—to tell us where we came from, to share our story with others, to persuade, to educate, and to preserve our cultures.”

Download your own copy of the poster at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization website (scroll to the bottom of the UNESCO page)!

There are so many more posts and sites out there about this wonderful day. Please share them below and let us know how you are going to celebrate this day. If you are a teacher, are you doing something special with your class to celebrate this day? Ironically, here in the US children won’t be in school as it is a day off: President’s Day!

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 15, 14 and 12, in German and English.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michelle February 21, 2011 at 7:24 am

I wrote about the day, my journey through languages, and ideas to celebrate, in SheLoves Magazine here:


2 Ismat Zarin January 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm

When I think of 21st February since it reminds me of the martyrs of my country who shed blood for our very own mother tongue. Yes, this is what I feel of anyone’s mother tongue, “very own”. In fact, the native language of any person plays a vital role in his/her life. Its the medium of dreams, aspirations, love, hate and most of all: think.None can be as passionate for a foreign language as he/she feels for his/her mother tongue because, somewhere or other the ‘feel’ is missing.This sensibility has to be generated to the youth from their deep inside. Actually, you can not call a language just a medium, its much more than that : Its our identity to us and to the world!!!!!!


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