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


The Mother Tongue Other Tongue (MTOT) multilingual poetry competition celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity through creative writing, and showcases the many languages spoken and learned by young people in school and at home.

Like last year we are continuing to embrace our new digital way of workinig. Whether in the classroom or at home pupils can still take part. For 2021-22 the focus is again is on the spoken word. We loved the creativity of the entries last year and particularly the opportunity to hear your voice and your fabulous language skills. 

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 take time to read these even if you've participated before as there are some differences depending whether your pupils are in primary or secondary education.

**Please note, MTOT 2021-22 has now closed** Winning and highly commended entries from the 2021-22 competition can be seen on our MTOT Awards 2021-22 webpage. Entries awarded in the previous year are also still available to view on our MTOT Awards 2020-21 webpage.

MTOT 2022-23 will launch in the Autumn term. Make sure you subscribe to the SCILT e-bulletin for updates.

  • Launch Friday 3 September 2021
  • Schools register by National Poetry Day, Thursday 7 October 2021
  • Submission instructions will then be issued to registered schools
  • Closing date for entries is Friday 3 December 2021
  • Judging December /January
  • Awards event on International Mother Language Day, Monday 21 February 2022
  • This year the 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 draw a picture and film a voice over if they prefer)
  • 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
  • For the 2021-22 competition, primary entrants are invited to submit poems on any subject, whilst secondary pupils are asked to write their entries on the theme of this year's National Poetry Day - 'Choice'
  • This year our partners at the Dictionaries of the Scots Language are sponsoring a special additional prize for entries in Scots
  • 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. 

This year, 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 3 December 2021.

If you intend to submit entries to MTOT 2021-22, please register here by Thursday 7 October 2021 so that we can contact you regarding how to submit your entries. Please note, registration opens 3 September when the 2021-22 competition launches.

Suggested formats

The performance can be audio only, or in video format. 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 7 October 2021. 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 3 December 2021.

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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