International Mother Language Day

There are about 6,500 languages in the world, but did you know that a language disappears and dies every two weeks? International Mother Language Day, on 21 February, is a day to celebrate and protect all the languages of the world.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.

A language is much more than just a way of communicating. Language, and particularly our mother tongue, is an important part of our culture. Some people even think that our language can change how we see the world.

A special day

In 1999, a special day to promote mother languages was created: International Mother Language Day. The day was also intended to raise awareness of just how many languages we have on this planet (around 6,500) and to protect them. The idea for this special day came from the country of Bangladesh, and 21 February is also the day when Bangladeshis mark the day that the Bangla language was officially accepted. Bangladeshis celebrate both days by holding literary competitions and singing songs.

Different themes each year

Every year, UNESCO chooses a different theme and holds different events at its headquarters in Paris, France. For example, in 2005, there was a focus on Braille and sign languages, and in 2017, a focus on how multilingual education could help the world to have a better future.

Other countries have also set up special projects to mark this day. For example, in 2014, the Indian government released digital learning materials for schools and colleges in the 22 most widely spoken Indian languages. It is estimated that there are around 750 languages or dialects in India, and, sadly, that around 250 more languages have been lost in the last 50 years.

The importance of the mother tongue in education

The Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azouley, pointed out in a recent speech on International Mother Language Day that mother languages 'shape millions of developing young minds'. She believes that children learn best in their mother tongue, and that it is important that children should have this opportunity. Around the world, 40 per cent of the population does not have access to education in a language they can understand or speak. Using certain languages can make it easier, or much harder, to do well in life.

Language goes to the heart

Nelson Mandela once said, '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.' At least 43 per cent of all languages are endangered, and fewer than 100 of the world's languages are used in the digital world. Most internet communication is in one of the following languages: English, Chinese Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Indonesian, Malayan, Japanese, Russian and German. But everyone has the right to use their own mother language, and to keep the memories, traditions and ways of thinking that their language represents. And this is what International Mother Language Day is all about.

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Language level

B2 English level (upper intermediate)

Submitted by meknini on Wed, 03/08/2022 - 05:45


I'm not quite sure of the exact number of Malay language speakers as it's a lingua franca in the south east Asia region. I could proficiently speak two languages: English and Bahasa Melayu with a few regional accents.

Submitted by jyoti Chaudhary on Sat, 30/04/2022 - 12:38


How many people speak your mother tongue? How many languages do you speak?

I'm from Delhi my mother tongue is Hindi and I generally speak the Hindi language with my family and friends I know the English language as well but I'm just practicing to improve my English communication skills.

Submitted by Stela Stoycheva on Wed, 23/02/2022 - 10:44


I`m from Bulgaria, we speak of Bulgarian language in my country we have various of dialects, even sometimes our language sounds funny :)
I trying to improve my English. I known different words of different languages, but I can`t make sentences :)

Submitted by Thinthinmyoe on Fri, 25/06/2021 - 08:12

I'm from Myanmar.In our country, we have various kinds of languages.

Submitted by hassainar on Wed, 10/03/2021 - 08:33

I am from state of kerala in india. The population of kerala is around 34 million. We speak a language called Malayalam. Malayalam is the mother tongue for the people of kerala. I can speak 4 languages including mother language. As i am working at azerbaijan, i can speak azeri, Hindi the language which is most popular in india and english as well.

Submitted by Swikrity on Tue, 09/03/2021 - 03:54

Hello, I am from Bangladesh. Every year we celebrate the International Mother Language Day in our country in a festive way. We arrange seminars and competitions on writing, drawing, recitation etc about the history behind the language movement for the children. In 1952, the heroic sons of our country sacrificed their lives for our mother tongue. From then, we have been celebrating 21st February as the mother language day. I feel proud that Bangla is my mother tongue and hope that people of the whole world will celebrate International Mother Language Day every year.

Submitted by Mehak saba on Mon, 01/03/2021 - 10:40

I am from sindh , pakistan , although i dont know that almost how many people can speak sindhi , but as per my knowledge , sindhi is widely used language in asia specially in pakistan and india And i can speak sindhi , urdu and english
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Submitted by danisep on Fri, 19/02/2021 - 21:41

My mother language is Spanish and around 483 million people around the world speak Spanish nowadays made it the second language more talk in the world after Chinese. I like my language and I think that language can change the way how we see the world. I'm proud that many people are interested in learning Spanish and Latina culture. I Speak Spanish and getting better at English.

Submitted by PARIMALA MADIAZHAKAN on Thu, 18/02/2021 - 14:33

HI EVERYONE. My mother tongue is Tamil. Almost 77 million people who speak my mother tongue. Tamil was declared a classical language by UNESCO. In 2004, the Union Cabinet created a new category of languages known as classical languages, which would be based on certain criteria. Tamil was the first to be included in this. I feel proud because I can speak my mother tongue very well without any disrupt. Further more, I can speak 4 languages . There are Tamil, English, Malay and Chinese. Even I can speak 4 languages but I never give up my mother language Tamil.
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Submitted by Onur on Mon, 15/02/2021 - 21:03

I am a Turk and we Turks' mother tongue is Turkish. It is guessed that aproximately 250 million people speak Turkish in the world. Ofcourse such as all the languages, Turkish has many dialects. Even some of them looks like not Turkish. I speak Turkish and English. Also I have been trying to learn Persian for a year.
Hi mother language is persian.its realy good and compeletly world 150 or more speak persian.and you enjoy to learn realy glad that you are try to llearn pearsian.

Submitted by Wendybcr on Mon, 10/08/2020 - 20:57

I'm from Mexico so my tongue mother is Spanish. We are 400 million of people who speaks Spanish, and 9 million of people is their second language. As for me, my second language is English, and I know a little bit of Japanese and French.
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sat, 30/05/2020 - 19:50

Like over 40 million people speaks Yoruba language. I speaks 2 major language fluently and like 2 also a bit fluent.

Submitted by parisaach on Sun, 15/09/2019 - 10:50

I speak Persian. There are around 81 million people live in my country and all of them need to speak persian at school, but some people in my country can't speak persian and they speak in their local languages, So all the people who pass the school should know Persian language and some of old and illiterate people may unable to speck Persian. People speak Persian in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan I don't know if all the people in these countries speak persian or not and I don't know the populatio n of these countries, I just know they are speak Persian because they were part of our country that Iranian rotter kings donate to England and Russia. andI know accent of people of these countries are very different than us. Persian has been changing a lot during years and it mostly influanced by Arabic, after wild tribes of Arab people attack to my country. By the way our language still exist though it is not the same as before. I like my mother tongue it is very beautiful , I also can speak English and French a bit. and I think after my mother tongue I'd rather to speak in these languages
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Submitted by Anaitat on Sun, 08/09/2019 - 13:14

I live in Belarus, in a bilingual country: 48% of people consider Belarusian as mother tongue, and 43% of people consider Russian as mother tongue. There is no exact data on when Belarusian originated in history, although it has existed for centuries. In 1517 Francysk Skaryna published his first edition of the Bible which his own prefaces in the Old Belarusian (Ruthenian). In 1529 the First Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and all the legislation was written in Belarusian and since 1566 Belarusian was the official language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. As seen from the turbulent history of my country and its territory, as well as its language, repeatedly became the spheres of influence of the Russian Empire, Poland and other states. The actual situation with the Belarusian is complicated. Russian is dominant in all spheres of life, including public and private services, legislation, education and the media. The UNESCO put Belarusian in the category of endangered languages. Maybe it is the first and the last language the formative stage of which has begun in XX century. We didn’t catch it in XIX century. Very convenient is the question: can we cut in time?
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Submitted by Luobowawa520 on Fri, 08/03/2019 - 14:26

My mother language is Mandarin,Chinese. As I know, currently about twenty percent of the world's population, or over one billion people speak Chinese. However, there are over 200 dialects are speaking in China mainland. I’m good in Mandarin and my mother dialect SiChuan dialect. my English is intermediate level, and my Greek is elementary level.
What a small world, I'm from Sichuan as well. I haven't gone back to Sichuan for approx 2 years and I miss our Hot-pot sososososo much.
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Submitted by iso on Wed, 06/03/2019 - 14:15

128 million people mother tongue in my country .Japan I am from is spoken Japanese.It is originally china over 1500 year ago. We use three type of letter kanji ,hiragana,katakana.It makes difficult learning Japanese.Kanji from china long time ago and then I formed original Japanese style.more over pronunciation is different from china.that why Japanese people don't speak Chinese.Regret things of mother language is writing skill. young people don't write on a paper.It cause poor writing skill. Government considered student don't write kanji while they learn in school.some teacher intense writing skill is important for social skill.

Submitted by ADELE on Wed, 20/02/2019 - 14:52

How many people speak your mother tongue? I can't give the percentage of people who speaks it. Because in Cameroon where i am from we have at least over 220 languages. I'm speaking : my mother language well, French very well because it's my first language and English level upper intermediate my mother language makes me feel proud. My regret is lack of writing, but i easily express myself through my mother language

Submitted by Aydin on Sat, 16/02/2019 - 13:14

Sadly, I belong to the part of the world that can’t read and write in my mother tongue!