Award winners and highly commended entries for the Mother Tongue Other Tongue (MTOT) multilingual poetry competition in Scotland 2020-21

MTOT 2020-21 Awards

MTOT logo

Mother Tongue Other Tongue (MTOT) is a competition with a long history in Scotland. Since 2014, young linguists from P1 – S6 in Scotland have been invited by SCILT to take part, giving them the opportunity to share their poetic creativity along with their wealth and diversity of language skills.

In academic session 2020-21, after a short hiatus, SCILT decided to relaunch the competition, with a new focus on the spoken word.  Learners were invited not only to write a poem in their mother or other tongue, but to perform it so that their words could be heard in their own voice.

When the global pandemic hit, and schools and learners were forced to adapt to new ways of learning, SCILT continued with the plan for MTOT, launching the competition on 8 October 2020, National Poetry Day. To our delight, by December we had received over 120 entries from more than 30 schools. An amazing range of both Mother and Other tongue languages were represented, from Arabic, Urdu, Telugu, Gaelic and Hausa to Afrikaans, French, Spanish, German and BSL. The creativity of these young linguists was evident in the video, film, presentation, song and spoken word audio entries we received, many of which can be viewed on our website. 

A judging panel of experts from the universities of Strathclyde, Glasgow and Edinburgh chose the winners in each category, and these were announced at an online Awards Ceremony on 19 February 2021, a date especially chosen to tie in with International Mother Language Day on 21 February celebrating all world languages. In true Oscars style, the winners were announced live to an audience of parents, carers, teachers, learners and specially invited guests. As part of their prize, the winners will be able to have their poems published on the Children’s Poetry Archive (part of the UK National Poetry Archive), and feature in a special episode of the international Kids Poetry Club podcast.

MTOT 2021 gave young linguists an opportunity to showcase not only their language skills, but also to share their heritage and learning.  Throughout the most challenging of years, these young poets showed creativity and resilience, and SCILT is proud to have supported them.

Finalist poems and songs « Prev Next »

The event concluded with the announcement of the competition prizes.

From SCILT, each highly commended entrant would receive a Silver Award certificate along with a £15 book token. Winners would receive a Gold Award Certificate, a £25 book token and additionally a winner's trophy.

But the story didn't end there! 

Special guests were also in attendance to reveal extra prizes for the winners.

Tracey Guiry from the Children's Poetry Archive announced the fabulous offer to host each of the winning entries on their website, ensuring their voices would be heard by future generations. The Mother Tongue Other Tongue 2020 collection is now available online. 

As if that wasn't enough, Darren Short from the Kids' Poetry Club podcast in Seattle announced he would like to offer the winners the chance to be broadcast on a podcast, taking their poems to an international audience. Hear the podcast episode, Poetic Language, on the Kids' Poetry Club website. The episode can also be found on any podcasting service, including Apple podcast, Google podcasts, StitcherPodbean and Spotify.

Thankfully technology did not let us down on the day and the event concluded on a high note. We had lots of lovely feedback from attendees. Some of their comments can be read in the Feedback section.

Feedback from participants in MTOT 2020-21:

I just wanted to express a massive thank you to the SCILT team and the special guests today for putting on a fantastic was such a lovely way to celebrate the success of our young people during such difficult times. All of the poems and songs we heard today were brilliant!
It was fabulous even though I had limited time to watch due to work. I was happy to learn as a parent, that such a competition exists.
It was good to see and hear all of the nominees pieces of poetry and the different languages represented

The Mother Tongue Other Tongue multilingual poetry competition has been running in Scotland since 2014, when it was introduced as a pilot project within Glasgow before extending countrywide in 2015. EAL teacher, Ruth Cunningham, has been an advocate of the competition from the start. As part of a Knowledge Exchange event to celebrate Languages Week Scotland 2021, she shared her experiences of the impact the competition has had on her learners. Access her presentation below:

Participants in this year's competition provided the following comments about the impact on pupils:

It's such a worthwhile event and really boosts the pupils' confidence

You have no idea the impact on self-esteem that it has on all the kids who take part

My pupils and I have learned many new things and have thoroughly enjoyed this year's MTOT event

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