International Mother Language Day

At BSJ, we encourage students to value their mother languages and to celebrate the diversity that these bring to our school. Being interested in others’ home languages and cultural backgrounds promotes an international outlook. It also nurtures aspects of the BSJ Learner Profile that are linked to being open-minded, balanced communicators.

One of the ways that we foster this philosophy is by recognising International Mother Language Day. This is held around the world annually on 21 February, the date in 1952 when several university students in present-day Bangladesh were killed while demonstrating for Bengali to be recognised as a national language.

This year, in the Primary School, older students read in their mother tongue to younger peers, we held language games at lunchtime, and screened films and created word walls in different languages. In the inaugural treasure hunt, students had to ask 20 people with different mother languages how to say a particular word. Answers were provided in languages from Hungarian and Igbo to Malay and Polish, and scripts including Latin, Hangul, Devanagari and Arabic.

In Secondary, Year 10 students created a quiz and posters promoting the day, while Year 11 students curated a music playlist including Indonesian, Korean, Japanese and Mandarin artists, for broadcasting over the tannoy at lunchtime. There was also live music featuring students performing in Indonesian and English.

Across the School, displays in the libraries and multicultural food in the cafeterias further highlighted the variety of our students’ cultural backgrounds.  

The week ended, serendipitously, with a teaching workshop on meeting the needs of all learners, in particularly those for whom English is an additional language. Taking into account a student’s mother language is a very big part of differentiating for their needs. Teachers can also use their students’ individual cultural experiences to enrich a whole class.