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.

This year it's back, but in a new format which embraces our new digital way of working. Whether in the classroom or at home pupils can still take part. For 2020-21 the focus is on the spoken word. We want to be able to hear your voice and fabulous language skills. So even those of you who have participated before and think you know the rules, please read on as these have been amended.

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 outlining the inspiration behind their submission.

Find out more about the competition timeline and requirements below.

**Please note, MTOT 2020-21 is now closed. Winning and highly commended entries from this year's competition can be seen on our MTOT Awards 2020-21 webpage.**

  • Launch Thursday 1 October 2020 - National Poetry Day
  • Schools register by Friday 20 November 2020 - entry submission instructions will be made available following this date
  • Closing date for submission of entries noon Friday 18 December 2020
  • Judging December /January
  • Shortlisted 'nominees' will be notified during January 2021
  • Celebration event Friday 19 February 2021 
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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 and consent form, should be submitted to SCILT by noon Friday 18 December 2020.

Consent forms must be signed, and a scanned copy sent in with your entry form. (Both forms can be found in the Resources dropdown section below).

If you intend to submit entries to MTOT 2020-21, please register here by Friday 20 November 2020 so that we can add you to the MTOT Team on Glow. This will allow you to submit your entries to us securely by 18 December 2020. 

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

The easiest way to submit your entries is to use the MTOT 2020-21 Team in Glow. You can upload video and sound files along with your entry/consent forms there. Please ensure all entry files contain the following in the file name - school name, pupil name, age category and whether MT or OT.

You can also submit your entry to SCILT in the following ways:

  • by email to the SCILT inbox
  • by file transfer and email. Instructions available on request following registration

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 to incorporate this event and its theme into their competition preparation.

Entry pro-forma 

Must accompany all entries.

Consent form

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.

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2018-19 Highlights

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