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Mother Language Day

How many mother tongues are spoken by your whānau, friends, neighbours and colleagues? Why not celebrate International Mother Language Day and make their day by phoning, sending an email or text or calling over the back fence to say ‘Hi’ in their mother tongue.

International Mother Language Day has been celebrated since 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity.

UNESCO set the date of 21 February to remember the day in 1952 when student protestors in Dhaka, now the capital of Bangladesh, were killed when demonstrating for their Bangla language to be the national language of their country.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, the 2013 census shows we are now a ‘super diverse’ country, with hundreds of languages spoken here.

The dissemination of mother tongues encourages linguistic diversity and multilingual education. It also develops greater international awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions and inspires solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela.

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