Celebration photos from International Mother Language Day

Staff Photographer with SIL
Children from local schools demonstrated through drama, song and dance what is means to them to learn first in their mother tongue.

(February 2017) This year's International Mother Language Day (IMLD) theme was "Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education," stressing the importance of the vital need for multilingual education. While local language communities around the world celebrated their language and culture, one of SIL’s contributions to the celebration was the release of the Ethnologue, 20th Edition. Dr. Gary Simons writes: “Mother Language Day, February 21, reminds the world of the importance of the lesser-known languages of the world. Because knowledge about these languages has been a focus of the Ethnologue since its inception in 1951, we are happy to be able to provide our most up-to-date information about the languages of the world each year on this day.”

In Uganda, SIL joined many who celebrated using the local theme:  “Promoting Use of Local Languages in Learning for Sustainable National Development.” Many exhibition tents from organizations involved in sustainable language development displayed books in local Ugandan languages and information on the recent progress in mother tongue-based multilingual education.

Lydia Teera, with SIL Uganda, addresses the audience on multilingualism as an asset/resource, not a problem.

Local school children celebrated learning first in their mother tongue through song, dance and drama.

An official in charge of curriculum development examines the Eastern Africa language map.

Peter Mweru, SIL literacy coordinator, with Deputy Minister of Education and Commissioner of Basic Education viewing literacy materials.

Día de Las Lenguas: Mexico

A two-day celebration of International Mother Language Day was held in the Me'phaa town of Xuayíí (Paraje Montero), Mexico.

The table of honor included Mark and Esther Weathers with SIL.  Banner translation: Welcome to all to Xuayíín (Paraje Montero), we are celebrating the Me’phaa language. 

    Me’phaa Celebration, the Dance La Conquista.


    Another IMLD observance was held in Mitla, Mexico.

    The gathered crowd included Zapotec women wearing traditional dresses to celebrate their mother tongue and culture. As part of the festivities, a dance team in colorful local outfits performed a traditional dance. SIL staff displayed and sold many books in various local languages at the tables provided for this celebration.

    At the speaker's’ platform, the Secretary of Indigenous Affairs was present as the personal representative of the governor. 

    Mitla's town president expressed recognition and appreciation for those individuals and organizations involved with advocacy for local languages. The Mitla town authorities all wore matching locally-woven shirts/blouses.

    In recognition of SIL’s service to the Zapotec community and to many other languages of Mexico, linguist Sue Hugghins was invited to represent SIL at the celebration.




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