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Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

Mother Tongue, Other Tongue

Friday, 1 February, 2019 - 16:00 to Friday, 21 June, 2019 - 16:00
Event Type: 
Project launch
North West
Manchester Metropolitan University

A tried and tested multilingual poetry competition that celebrates cultural diversity and the many languages currently spoken in schools across the UK.

Mother Tongue Other Tongue is a national Laureate Education Project, led by the Poet Laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy. Regional competitions and events take place throughout the year. The competition is co-ordinated by Routes into Languages.

The competition is officially endorsed by Malala Yousafzai, youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner and education activist.

"When you are learning another language, you learn to think in that language, you learn to speak in that language and you learn to believe in that language and it allows you to think from a completely different perspective: it's not just about the words and the grammar but the culture and the language it is associated with.

"It's a skill - a talent - and I hope those of you learning a new language continue to do so because the more you learn, the broader your mind becomes and allows you to think big."

The Mother Tongue part of the competition requires children who do not have English as a first language, or who speak a different language at home, to share a creative piece, poem or song from their Mother Tongue. They then write a short piece in English to explain the poem’s significance to them.  

The Other Tongue part of the competition encourages children learning another language in school to use that language creatively to write a poem.

Work should be submitted by post only - sorry we are unable to accept email entries.  All entries must reach us by the 15th May 2019. They will then be judged by a team of multi-lingual student judges.

We will be holding a celebration June 21st where we will be joined by a surprise VIP guest.



We can only accept up to four entries from each school for each part of the competition (i.e up to four entries for Mother Tongue, and up to four entries for Other Tongue).

An entry to the Mother Tongue competition should be in two parts.  The first part is a poem.  This can be an original, creative piece, or a poem or song that is ‘remembered’ – i.e.  this could be something in the pupil’s first language that they recall, or that has been told to them by a relative.  It can be in any language but English. The second part of the entry to the Mother Tongue part of the competition should be a short explanation of the inspiration behind the piece, where it comes from, and why it is important.  This should be no more than half a page of writing.  It must be written in English and is the part on which the entry is judged.

An entry to the Other Tongue competition should be an original poem written in a language that is not the pupil’s first language.  In the North West region we can accept entries in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Urdu and Mandarin.

For both parts of the competition, judging is based on the written work and not the artwork.  However, we usually have many beautifully illustrated entries and encourage pupils to consider the presentation of their work.

For more info please visit: or email