International Mother Language Day

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.


Worksheet65.81 KB

Language level

Average: 3.4 (25 votes)
Do you need to improve your English?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are making great progress with their English level with our online courses.

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
Profile picture for user danisep

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.
Profile picture for user Onur

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.