Main page for the Mother Tongue Other Tongue (MTOT) multilingual poetry competition in Scotland


MTOT logo_10 year anniversary

10 years of MTOT!!!

Come help us celebrate!

The Mother Tongue Other Tongue (MTOT) multilingual poetry competition celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity through creative writing. It offers a unique opportunity to showcase the many languages spoken and learned by young people in school and at home.

We can hardly believe this session it will be ten years since we first launched the competition as a pilot event within Glasgow local authority back in 2014!

Over that time we have celebrated a huge range of languages. We have been astounded by the creative brilliance of Scotland’s young poets. We have laughed with them, been moved by their stories, sung along with them, and marvelled at their courage in putting their creations out into the world.

So many people and organisations have supported us, including the former Scots Makar, Jackie Kaye and the current Scots Makar, Kathleen Jamie. We have enjoyed the patronage of writers, poets and language professionals from the UK and beyond, and we want to celebrate it all in this, our 10th year. 

Initially the competition invited written submissions collated in a printed anthology of the winner and runner up poems, examples of which can be seen below. With the greater use of digital technologies, over the past few years the competition has evolved to focus on the spoken word. Hearing pupils share their voices and language skills has helped bring their poetry to life and we look forward again to offering a platform for children and young people to be creative with languages and allow their voices to be heard.

In this 10th anniversary year, we are delighted to work with our partners at Instituto Cervantes to offer a special prize category for entries in Spanish, one of the most widely taught languages in Scotland’s schools.

So in this 10th year, we hope to see even more entries so that we can celebrate the young voices of Scotland. Find YOUR voice, and join us!

Information about the competition

The competition is split into two categories:

Mother Tongue - children and young people who do not speak English as a first language can record and submit an original poem, song or rap in their mother tongue language. In Scotland, pupils will be able to submit entries in Scots and Gaelic in this category.

Other Tongue - children and young people learning another language in school, college or university (French, Spanish, German, Italian, Mandarin, Urdu, Gaelic and Cantonese) can record and submit an original poem, song or rap in that other tongue.

In both categories, entries can be sound files only, a performance video, or a drawing or illustration representing the entry with recorded voice over. 

All entrants will complete a pro-forma in English to accompany the piece. An important part of this is that the entrants must outline their inspiration as this accounts for part of the judging criteria.

Find out more about the competition timeline and requirements below. PLEASE NOTE REGISTRATION CLOSED ON 5 OCTOBER 2023.

Winning, highly commended and other entries from the 2022-23 competition can be seen on our MTOT Awards 2022-23 webpage. Entries awarded in previous years are still available to view on our MTOT Awards 2021-22 and our MTOT Awards 2020-21 webpages.

Fnalists' entries from our 2023-24 competition now available to view!

Make sure you subscribe to the SCILT e-bulletin for updates about the competition.

  • Launch Friday 18 August 2023
  • Schools register by National Poetry Day, Thursday 5 October 2023
  • Submission instructions will then be issued to registered schools
  • Closing date for entries is Friday 1 December 2023
  • Judging December /January
  • Awards event on International Mother Language Day, Wednesday 21 February 2024
  • The competition focus is on the spoken word 
  • Schools submit an audio file or short film. (It doesn’t necessarily have to be the learners appearing on it. Entrants can provide an original visual representation of the poem such as a freehand drawing, collage or handcrafted item and film a voice over if they prefer). Please note to avoid copyright infringement graphics and images from the internet should not be used. See our copyright guidelines for more information
  • The entry can be a poem, prose, rap or song but must be the pupils' own original work
  • The pro-forma explaining the entry must be completed and attached. It's important for pupils to outline their inspiration here as this counts towards the judging criteria
  • Winners will appear in a “showreel” anthology hosted on our website
  • Schools entering should send a maximum of 10 entries to represent their establishment
  • The competition is open to all state, independent and community/ heritage language schools and will be judged in four age categories P1-P4, P5-P7, S1-S3, S4-S6
  • Entries can be about any subject
  • All entries will be closely scrutinised and the selected finalists in each age category will be invited to a film premiere / Oscars-style celebration event where the overall winner in each group will be revealed. If, due to current circumstances, a live event is not feasible, the proceedings will be streamed online

Guidelines for submitting your entries

Mother Tongue Other Tongue is a competition open to young people in Scotland who are speakers and learners of other languages. 

The competition is focussed on the spoken word. Entrants should write an original poem, and then record their poem in their own voice. This, along with their entry form, should be submitted to SCILT by noon Friday 1 December 2023.

If you intend to submit entries to MTOT 2023-24, please register here by Thursday 5 October 2023 so that we can contact you regarding how to submit your entries. Please note, registration opens 18 August when the 2023-24 competition launches.

Suggested formats

The performance can be audio only, or in video format containing originally created hand drawn or hand crafted visuals. Entrants should state their name, age and school, then perform their poem:

  • draw a picture and film it, with your poem as a voiceover to it
  • put your poem onto a Powerpoint and narrate it
  • make a film of your poem
  • make an audio file of your poem

How to submit your entry to SCILT

Please register by Thursday 5 October 2023. This will allow us to contact you with details of how to submit your entries to us. We would ask you to label your entry files carefully in the following way - school name, pupil name, age category and whether MT or OT.

Please note the final date for submissions is Friday 1 December 2023.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

Poetry resources

We have produced a number of resources and collated links to various websites to help teachers prepare their pupils for the competition.

These cover a selection of poetry styles and techniques as well as examples of foreign language poems and themed poetry.

There is also a link to National Poetry Day resources should schools wish some inspiration on the event's theme to incorporate into their competition preparation.

Entry pro-forma

Must accompany all entries.


In past years MTOT was a written competition resulting in the production of an anthology. Here you can read examples of winning poems.

Testimonials « Prev Next »

2018-19 Highlights

Twitter logoWe had plenty of feedback and comments on Twitter from participants in Mother Tongue Other Tongue.

Tweets about MTOT, mtot_scilt

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