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.