UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Mother Language Day celebrates multilingualism and cultural diversity

Thursday, 21 February is International Mother Language Day – a day set aside to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

It is estimated that every two weeks a language goes extinct. But why try to protect these languages?  What is the real significance of this Day?

UN News’s Paulina Greer posed these questions to the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN Ambassador Masud Bin Momen.

UN News/Dianne Penn

Multilingualism promotes respect: Zimbabwean student in China

Growing up in a multilingual home has taught a young woman from Zimbabwe to value all cultures.

Gugulethu Jemaine Nyathi said having parents who speak different languages has served her well as she pursues an engineering degree at Jiangsu University in China.

“Gugu,” as she is known, was one of 60 winners of the UN-backed Many Languages, One World multilingual essay competition,

UN News/Dianne Penn

Multilingual contest inspires UK student’s fight for gender equality

The opportunity to deliver a speech in French on gender equality to the UN General Assembly has cemented a young British student’s decision to push for more women’s representation in UK politics.

Nicholas Bloom is among 60 students worldwide chosen as the winners of this year’s Many Languages, One World multilingual essay competition co-sponsored by the UN.

Nicholas will graduate next year from the University of Bristol, where he is studying French and Spanish.


Ghanaian student finds value in intercultural exchange

A Ghanaian medical student in Russia says learning the language helped him to not only understand the people but to bear with predicaments ranging from the cold weather to racism.

Emmanuel Tetteh, who has been living in Volgograd for three years, is proud that he learned Russian well enough to write a 2,000-word essay in that language on the topic of water and sanitation for all.

Emmanuel was among 70 university students who won a UN-backed essay contest that promoted multilingualism.


Thai student says language is “key to understanding different cultures”

A medical student from Thailand who’s studying at a university in China says the only way to understand another culture is through its language.

Siwathep Singh Khanderpor, known as “Thep,” is living proof of his mother’s belief that if you speak one language, you’re one person, but if you speak more than one language, then you’re multi-faceted.

Thep was one of the winners of a UN-backed international essay contest promoting multilingualism.