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Thursday 21 February 2019 marks International Mother Language Day, an opportunity to promote and celebrate our linguistic and cultural diversity. This year is also the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

The United Nations reports(external link) that 40 percent of the global population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand.  It is also believed that every two weeks, a language disappears. These statistics highlight the importance of celebrating all languages and embracing their use to ensure they thrive.

International Mother Language Day was first observed in 2000 after UNESCO approved the suggestion from Bangladesh at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference. 21 February was selected to commemorate this day in 1952, when a group of Bangladeshi students died while protesting for the official recognition of the Bengali language.

Each year events are held in New Zealand, and across the globe, to celebrate International Mother Language Day. These celebrations support the Office of Ethnic Communities’ goal of growing New Zealanders’ knowledge and understanding of ethnic diversity and inclusion, while also valuing New Zealand’s diverse cultures and ethnicities.

Community Languages Association of New Zealand received Ethnic Communities Development Funding to develop this resource(external link) which gives tips on using a mother language at home. It is available in 14 languages. If you would like to contribute a translation, please contact info@clanz.co.nz

If you are interested in holding a language celebration, such as a language week, this resource(external link) may be useful.

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