Wigiwama: What is International Mother Language Day?

The Human ability to speak to one another is an incredible capability and is often something overlooked for its complexities. 

The celebration of International Mother Language Day was approved in 1999 at the UNESCO General Conference. The idea was brought by Bangladesh and has been observed around the world since 2000 on the 21st of February. For sustainable societies across the globe UNESCO believes in the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity and how preserving these differences in both culture and languages builds tolerance and respect amongst people. 

There is an incredibly complicated nature in being able to speak, as many of us have been reminded of as we watch our little ones learn to talk for the very first time and develop certain mannerisms from those they spend the most time with. Using tones, exhalations, inhalations and various mouth positions whilst trying to convey a message to another person is equally difficult as a child as when an adult. This creation of sound causes air vibrations that travel to another person whose eardrums then translate these vibrations and movements for the brain to comprehend and transform into thoughts. This incredible journey becomes second nature as we practice every day. 

This amazing ability allows us to transmit ideas across vast distances too. We can also transmit knowledge to other minds and this is how our little ones will build relationships with others, land their careers and create their own families in the future. 

There isn’t just one language spoken in the world, there are approximately 7,000. Languages are different in a variety of ways, from sounds to vocabulary to structures. The language we speak has raised a continual question about whether it impacts the way that we think too.

A great little bonding moment for you and your little one is to help them think deeper about the importance of language and what an incredible gift it is. Discussing International Mother Language Day is a great place to start. A really fun activity is to ask them to think of something ridiculous; like an octopus riding a bike waving at an elephant using a slide. This then allows them to realise the powerfulness that they have, from knowledge to thought to imagination. You can then take the time to express how they’ll have never had that thought before yet with the use of language we can create incredible processes to happen within the brain. 

How is International Mother Language being celebrated in 2022?

Each year UNESCO provide a theme for the day to direct us all to explore the world of languages and connect with others. This year, the theme for International Mother Language Day is ‘Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities.’

This year UNESCO are discussing how the new role that technology plays in everyone's lives could help to advance multilingual education. This potential development could enhance the quality of teaching and learning for everybody across the globe. Their goal for International Mother Language Day is to preserve traditional knowledge and cultures through the languages of different multilingual and multicultural societies. 

Who are UNESCO? 

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation is seeking peace through international cooperation in education, sciences and culture. In line with the UN Sustainable Development goals, the programmes and initiatives outlined by UNESCO are continually contributing to the achievement and success of these goals. 

Why is it important for our children to learn about these awareness days?

Over the year there are many different awareness days, some larger than others. Days like International Mother Language Day have hugely significant impacts on the world that our children are growing up in. This specific day is a focus on working towards the social sustainability goals which creates a brighter future for our children. By sharing these days with them and talking to them about how their skills impact themselves, those around them and those across the world, they gain a greater understanding of the world that they live in. 

International Mother Language Day is an incredible day that brings together many societies and community across the globe. If you’re sharing this day with your little one, why not reach out to a friend or family member too and help spread awareness about what this day is really about!