International Mother Language Day comes on February 21 of every year. It is a day to promote the awareness of linguistic-cultural diversity and multilingualism. And also the day remembers the killing of four students in Bangladesh on February 21, 1952, because they are campaigned to use their mother language (Bengali) officially. The day is also known as Language Movement Day or Language Revolution Day or Bengali Language Movement Day in Bangladesh. Hence International Mother Language Day is a day to promote the awareness of the language and cultural diversity across the world.

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

History of International Mother Language Day

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) announced the International Mother Language Day in 1999 to celebrate the cultural diversity and to commemorates the “Language Martyr” students of Bangladesh in 1952. The four students are honored by the encouragement of multiculturalism and the improvement of protective measures for endangered languages. It is very hard to imagine the difficulties faced by the students who are all ordered to learn a foreign language without linguistic inclusion and there is no equal access to education. On this day, UNESCO and UN agencies will participate in events to promote the language and cultural diversity. They will encourage the people to maintain their knowledge of the mother language while learning and using more than one language. Policies will be adopted by the Governmental and Non-governmental agencies to improve the language learning and support.

International Mother Language Day

Timeline of International Mother Language Day

  • 1952 – The Foundation of International Mother Language Day.
  • 1999 – UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) announced 21 February as the International Mother Language Day.
  • 2000 – The Inaugural celebration of the Mother Language Day.
  • 2001 – The Second annual celebration of the International Mother Language Day.
  • 2002 – Linguistic-diversity theme, with 3,000 endangered languages (slogan: In the galaxy of languages, every word is a star.)
  • 2003 – Fourth Annual Celebration of Mother Language Day.
  • 2004 – The introduction of the Children-learning theme. The UNESCO  included the unique exhibition of children’s exercise books from around the world illustrating the process how the children can learn and master the use of written literacy skills in the classrooms.
  • 2005 – Braille and sign languages.
  • 2006 – Languages and cyberspace.
  • 2007 – The introduction of Multilingual Education.
  • 2008 – International Year of Languages.
  • 2009 – Tenth annual celebration International Mother Language Day.
  • 2010 – International Year for Rapprochement of Cultures.
  • 2011 – Information and communication technologies.
  • 2012 – Mother tongue instruction and inclusive education.
  • 2013 – Books for mother tongue education were introduced.
  • 2014 – Local languages for Global Citizenship: Spotlight on Science.
  • 2015 – Inclusion in and through education: language counts (with an event in Paris).
  • 2016 – Quality education, language(s) of instruction and learning outcomes.
  • 2017 – Sustainable futures via multilingual education

How to Celebrate the International Mother Language Day

Celebrate the International Mother Language Day by conducting the events to promote the hearing of all the voices and to display the social cohesion, cultural awareness, and tolerance. Encourage others to learn about the history of their mother language and the benefits of using more than one language. Governments and non-governmental organizations around the world will use this day to announce policies to encourage the language learning. Post pictures and share your thoughts on social media about International Mother Language Day by using the hashtag #MotherLanguageDay.