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International Mother Language Day

February 19, 2024

When is International Mother Language Day Celebrated?

International Mother Language Day 2024 will be celebrated on February 21. The world observes this day every year on the same date. Protecting and preserving languages is vital for the world. 

However, over 40% of the 6,000 worldwide languages are at risk. Furthermore, educational institutions are teaching only a few hundred of these languages. And you know what is more alarming? Only a few languages have digital representations. 

Are you wondering about the reasons behind this situation? It is happening due to globalization. 

The Beauty in All Languages 

Languages serve as a window into the history and cultures of those who speak them. Untranslatable words, by their very nature, indicate the existence of a concept in a culture. For instance, “sobremesa” is a term in the Spanish language. It describes the time spent relaxing and talking following a substantial meal. On the other hand, the idea is the same in English. However, Sobremesas is not commonly used to refer to this idea.

Moreover, languages provide additional anthropological insights. For instance, geographic directions (north, south, east, and west) are used in the aboriginal language Guugu Yimithirr. They do not use egocentric directions (left and right). People do not say that a home is to the “right” of a tree. Instead, they say that it is “south” of the tree. The accuracy of the geographic directions shows that people must possess a sense of direction. Or they have an innate compass. But, the same thing may not be evident from using egocentric language. 

Why Preserving Languages in Essential?

Language is not just a way of communication. It is much more than that. Our society embraces language. Primarily, people prefer to use their mother tongue. Some individuals even believe that language can change how we see the world.

There are over 6,500 languages spoken throughout the world. But did you know that one of them dies every two weeks? It is critical to protect languages. They serve as a vital tool for various societal functions. They assist in maintaining identity.

Purpose of International Mother Language Day

This day aims to raise awareness about the diversity of languages globally. Also, it assists in promoting diverse cultures. It serves as a platform to promote multilingualism. In addition, it highlights the significance of linguistic preservation.

World Mother Language Day is part of a crucial initiative. It serves as a vital tool to protect and preserve all languages spoken worldwide. 

History of International Mother Language Day

Bangladesh took the initiative to propose the celebration of World Mother Language Day. UNESCO initially announced this day on November 17, 1999. Following the initial announcement, the United Nations General Assembly legally recognized it in 2002.

The Current Situation in the World 

The world witnessed a severe compromise in the learning domain in the past few years. It happened because of the school closures due to COVID-19. According to the World Bank et al. and UNESCO (2022), before the epidemic, 57% of students in low- and middle-income countries could not read and understand a short story by the end of elementary school. By 2022, this percentage had increased to 70%. 

In many countries, more than 90% of students do not receive their education in a language they can comprehend and pronounce (World Bank, 2023). As a result, it leads to poor learning outcomes.

The Significance of Multilingual Education

International Mother Language Day 2024 serves as a reminder for the global community. It highlights the value of multilingual education. Also, it is more effective to teach in the student’s first language. It ensures that students will understand the concepts better. Also, it promotes respect for all languages.

Using native languages in the classroom is crucial for student education. It assists in improving their learning. Also, it promotes critical thinking. It facilitates communication and comprehension as well. Learning in one’s native tongue fosters engagement. It helps in creating confidence in the students.

Moreover, it provides a solid basis for learning additional languages. In short, it teaches life skills that are helpful in times of crisis. It also enhances digital literacy. However, multilingualism is not just limited to education. It helps to preserve languages and cultures. It ensures that every individual has access to high-quality education.

International Mother Language Day Theme 2024

The World Mother Language Day theme 2024 is “Multilingual education is a pillar of learning and intergenerational learning.” Over 250 million kids and teens do not attend school today. At the same time, 763 million adults lack basic literacy skills.

Education in one’s mother language can help solve these issues. Also, it will foster learning and improve the literacy rate.

Language Touches the Heart

As Nelson Mandela said, speaking to a man in a language he understands gets to his mind. But talking with him in his own mother language touches his heart. Of all the world’s languages, less than 100 languages are used in the digital age. On the other hand, at least 43% are at risk. 

The languages most commonly used for Internet communication include:

  • English
  • Chinese
  • Mandarin
  • Spanish
  • Arabic
  • Portuguese
  • Indonesian
  • Malayan
  • Japanese
  • Russian
  • German 

But the people who speak languages other than these also have a right to use their mother language. All individuals own the right to utilize their native tongue. They have a right to preserve their cultural legacies and customs. And this is the main goal of World Mother Language Day.


International Mother Language Day 2024 is a reminder for the world. It emphasizes the value of linguistic diversity. It depicts the essence of global language preservation. On this day, we need to ensure that every person has access to high-quality education. Everyone has a chance to learn in their native language. We can do this by implementing programs like multilingual education. By supporting language diversity, we can:

  • Maintain cultural history
  • Promote learning and understanding

As we commemorate this day, let us keep in mind that language is a crucial part of identity and cultural expression. Language is not only a tool for communication. All voices may be heard and respected in a more inclusive and harmonious community if we value and embrace the diversity of languages spoken around the globe. Let’s keep advocating for multilingualism. Together, we can work to protect and honor many languages that make the world a more exciting place to live.

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What is International Mother Language Day?

  • This day serves as a forum to celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity on this day. 
  • Additionally, this day promotes awareness of the significance of preserving native languages on a global scale.

When is International Mother Language Day Celebrated?

Every year on February 21st, people mark World Mother Language Day. 

Why Is It Essential to Preserve Languages?

Preserving languages is essential for:

  • Maintaining cultural identity
  • Facilitating communication
  • Fostering understanding among diverse communities

What is the Theme of International Mother Language Day 2024?

The theme for International Mother Language Day 2024 is “Multilingual education is a pillar of learning and intergenerational learning.” 

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