Announced by UNESCO in 1999, International Mother Language Day celebrates cultural diversity and commemorates the “language martyr” students of 1952 Bangladesh. These students are honored by the encouragement of multiculturalism and the promotion of protective measures for endangered languages.

It’s hard to imagine the challenges faced by students who have been ordered to learn in a foreign language, as without linguistic inclusion, there is no equal access to education. Current International Mother Language Day events include multicultural festivals which promote the hearing of all voices, and display social cohesion, cultural awareness, and tolerance. The unique nuances and subtleties of linguistic communication which connect individuals to culture and personal identity are valued and encouraged.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “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.”

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