Celebrate! February 21, 2016 United Nation's International Mother Language Day

The Office of Head Start invites you to celebrate the many languages of children, families, and staff on International Mother Language Day!

What Is It?

Sponsored by the United Nations, International Mother Language Day honors the 6,000 languages spoken around the world. It's a great time to celebrate, speak, and learn our mother and home languages.

Head Start programs can lead local efforts to share the value, importance, and joy of all languages! About one third of the children in Head Start and Early Head Start are dual language learners (DLLs), and more than 140 languages are spoken. Supporting a young DLL's mother language—also called home language—is key to their success in school and life.

Why Celebrate?

International Mother Language Day provides a chance to celebrate diversity, increase understanding, and engage in dialogue. Quality language education can equip learners with the language skills they need to contribute to society. It also can help to create a more peaceful, inclusive, and sustainable world. Language education offers a framework for sharing values and knowledge. It strengthens a sense of belonging to local and global communities, which is key to fostering understanding, cooperation, and engagement. Multilingualism is a living resource (Bokova, 2012). Language communicates and transfers knowledge from each generation to the next, thereby ensuring a sustainable future.

How Can Your Program Participate?

  • Tell families about local organizations with members who speak their home language, reflect their culture, and offer activities and events for adults and children
  • Create a list of all of the languages spoken by the families and staff in your program and include the list on your website and classroom bulletin boards and in your newsletter. (Don’t forget to ask about the languages of grandparents and other Elders.)
  • Gather the word “welcome” as it is written in all the languages and scripts of your community, including staff, families, community partners, etc. Display in a gathering place in the building these many ways of saying hello
  • Have those who wrote them come and share how to say the greeting, and let the children practice saying hello in the different languages
  • Extend the activity by looking at a map or globe and learning where all of the children’s families came from

Resources for Programs

International Mother Language Day 2016 Flyer

Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness Resources

Planned Language Approach | Also in Spanish (español)

Importance of Home Language Series | Also in Spanish (español)

Immigrant and Refugee Families

Last Reviewed: February 2016

Last Updated: February 16, 2016