Award winners and highly commended entries for the Mother Tongue Other Tongue (MTOT) multilingual poetry competition in Scotland 2021-22

MTOT 2021-22 Awards

MTOT logo

picture of Awards event opening slide

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.

Since academic session 2020-21, the competition has focussed on the spoken word.  Learners are invited not only to write a poem in their mother or other tongue, but to perform it so that their words can be heard in their own voice. Throughout the ongoing challenges schools and learners face from the global pandemic, teachers have supported these young poets to celebrate their language skills, and their work continues to inspire us year on year.

MTOT 2021-22 was launched on 7 October 2021, National Poetry Day. An additional prize was offered this year for poetry in the Scots language, sponsored by our partners at the Dictionaries for the Scots Language. To our delight, by December we had received over 120 entries from more than 30 schools. The range of both Mother and Other tongue languages was again astounding: from Arabic, Urdu, Scots/Doric, Bulgarian and Polish to Afrikaans, French, Spanish, German and Italian. The themes chosen by our young poets were diverse and inspirational, giving a unique insight into what is important to young people in an uncertain and ever-changing world. The language skills on display were quite phenomenal, reflecting the diverse and multicultural nature of modern Scotland. 2022 was truly a great year for MTOT.

Our judging panel of experts from the universities of Strathclyde, Glasgow and Edinburgh were joined by a new colleague, Bruce Eunson from the Dictionaries of the Scots Language in 2022. After much deliberation, the panel chose the winners in each category, and these were announced live at our online Awards Ceremony. Fittingly, this was held on 21 February 2022, International Mother Language Day, a day when we celebrate all world languages. In true Oscars style, the winners were announced live to an audience of parents, carers, teachers, learners and specially invited guests. The opening address was a specially recorded message from Kathleen Jamie, Scotland's Makar, who paid tribute to the young poets, recognising the importance of their language skills. 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.

As ever, MTOT 2021-22 gave young linguists an opportunity to showcase not only their language skills, but also to share their heritage, their creativity and their learning. SCILT is proud to support these courageous and talented young poets; we congratulate this year's winners and highly commended entries, and we look forward to seeing even more languages and inspiring poems in MTOT 2022-23!

Kathleen Jamie, Scots Makar « Prev Next »

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.

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 2022 collection is now available on the site.

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. "The Poetry Parcel" podcast episode is now available on Spotify, Apple podcast and Amazon.

This year also saw the introduction of a special award for Scots language entries sponsored by the Dictionaries of the Scots Language. The lucky recipient of a further book voucher was also our P1-P4 Other Tongue winner!

We were delighted so many finalists along with their classmates and teachers were able to join the online ceremony on the day. We had lots of lovely feedback from attendees. Some of their comments can be read in the feedback section below.

Judging the competition has always been challenging, but particularly so this year with the judging panel taking the decision to award special commendations to several entries which very narrowly missed making the final shortlist. The following pupils received a Special Commendation certificate and were offered the opportunity to also have their work showcased on the SCILT website. We are delighted to host below those who provided permission for us to do so.

Special commendations

  • Ahmad Raza, Newmains Primary (Spanish)
  • Amelka Czyrkun, St James' Primary (Polish)
  • Aysha Rashad, Arkleston Primary (Italian)
  • Annie McKelvie, Arran High School (French)
  • Diya Lalloo-McGurk, The Glasgow Academy (French)
  • Emmanuella Otshama, St Roch's Primary & Deaf School (Swahili)
  • Kristina Paulicek, St Paul's Primary (Czech)
  • Wilson Zhou, St James' Primary (Mandarin Chinese)
  • Zhiqing Lin, St Roch's Primary & Deaf School (Mandarin Chinese)

In the press

Paisley primary celebrates different pupils' cultures as part of poetry project (Daily Record)

On social media

See our Wakelet of posts shared across social media platforms.

Schools shared photographs of pupils presented with their awards.

Thank you so much all at SCILT and also the judges. It's such a great opportunity for our young poets! (Teacher)
Wonderful entries. I love MTOT and its positive effect on our pupils. (Teacher)
We felt proud to see our work displayed on screen! We gave a big clap to the winners, and we enjoyed creating flags and hats for the special occasion. (Teacher)
Thank you for having this competition. It is really important to us who speak different home languages to be able to use it and celebrate it! (Parent)
It's a great competition and the kids really enjoyed writing their poems. (Teacher)
All of the pupils loved participating. (Teacher)
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