International Mother Language Day

Hundreds of languages will be shared and celebrated in events across the city as Manchester gets ready to celebrate International Mother Language Day between 20th and 22th February.

International Mother Language Day is celebrated globally each year on 21 February after UNESCO adopted the initiative proposed by Bangladesh. 

Manchester is Britain’s city of languages: there are up to 200 languages spoken in the city at any one time. It is estimated that half of the city’s adult population is multilingual, with four in 10 young people able to converse in more than one language. 

Activities include free, fun, family-friendly performances, discussions, workshops and a multilingual mushaira of poets performing their works, all showcasing the rich diversity of words and language across Manchester’s streets – and across the world.

With 40% of the world’s population having no access to education in a language they speak or understand, there has never been a more important time to protect and respect the rich diversity of words and communication.

Manchester has been taking part in International Mother Language Day since 2018; and in 2019 nearly 5,000 people took part. 

For International Mother Language Day 2020, you can:

• hear extracts of Elizabeth Gaskell’s work read in Tamil, Spanish and French
• join the Multilingual Manchester takeover of Manchester Museum and find out how to say ‘our kid’ in Kurdish (or Romani, Bengali, Turkish, Swahili and many more)
• pick up drum sticks to drum sticks with DrumRoots at an African drum workshop at Forum Library
• relax in the Round The World Story Tent at North City Library • explore The Language of Hair and beautiful African hairstyles at Longsight Library
• listen listen to oral histories in a huge range of languages and sample delicious food from around the world at Central Library
• be filmed reading your poetry in our specially created Poetry Pods at one of the four participating libraries (Longsight, Wythenshawe Forum, Mcr Central and North City) and 
• share a cup of tea with The Poetry Exchange podcast team and tell them about a poem that has been a friend to you*
• join the Jodrell Bank team and their inflatable planetarium at the Pakistani Community Centre in Longsight and then take part in science experiments and create poetry with ‘space-poet’ Dom Conlon.
• meet bi-lingual poets Nasima Begum, Basir Sultan Kazmi, Steph Lonsdale and Bohdan Pisecki in Manchester Libraries in the afternoon then join the four of them, poet Anjum Malik, creative artist Emma Martin and the young Creative Crew in the evening for the Multilingual Mushaira sharing what ‘home’ means*
• join in online by writing your own poem on the theme of ‘home’ and post it on Twitter using the hashtag #McrMushaira20

Find out more about International Mother Language Day

* very limited places that must be booked in advance