Mother Tongue, Other Tongue Regional and National Celebration

The Geoffrey Manton building was buzzing with activity today for the Mother Tongue, Other Tongue celebration. Mother Tongue, Other Tongue is a multilingual poetry competition supported by Carol Ann Duffy that celebrates languages and diversity in the UK. The Mother Tongue element of the competition encourages children who speak English as a second language to share a poem or song in their own language. Other Tongue, on the other hand, asks children who are learning a foreign language to use it creatively in a poem. Over ten thousand students have engaged with Mother Tongue, Other Tongue.

Today, winning students from across the UK visited The Manchester Children’s Book Festival for a prize ceremony and celebration. They were treated to some exciting dance performances in the atrium, which included a group from the Punjabi Roots Academy. Pupils were encouraged to join in with the dancing, and they had great fun playing with some colourful costumes, too. Even the teachers seemed to be having a blast and getting involved!


“We’re here to celebrate the pupil’s achievements taking part in this competition,” said Yasmin Hussain, the project manager of Mother Tongue, Other Tongue. “The project has allowed pupils to be proud of and express their heritage, culture and linguistic diversity in a fun and creative way.”

After plenty of fun in the atrium, the prize ceremony began. A number of students read out their entries in a crowded lecture hall. Sharon Handley, the Dean of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences at Manchester Metropolitan University, spoke to us about the ceremony. “I loved listening to the pupils read their poetry,” she said. “I particularly loved listening to the little Romanian girl who got up to read her poem. I thought it was really brave of her.”


The ceremony was a huge success, with the Lord Mayor attending as well as author Qaisra Shahraz, who was born in Pakistan but moved to Manchester at the age of nine. Qaisra gave a speech about the importance of languages and also presented the children with their prizes. 
Sharon Handley and Qaisra Shahraz
After the ceremony, we talked to Qaisra about Mother Tongue, Other Tongue. “It has enormous value because it celebrates diversity and other cultures,” Qaisra tells us. “It brings children from different schools together and celebrates their achievements as well as their ability to use language and write poetry. What an achievement that is.”


We asked Qaisra what advice she would give to budding writers and children hoping to enter the Mother Tongue, Other Tongue competition in the future. “First of all, read a lot,” she told us. “Write anything you’re good at and don’t be afraid to experiment. Just do it! Keep trying and persevering.”


North West Winners of Mother Tongue, Other Tongue


Mother Tongue – Years 4, 5, 6
Ana Maria Zabava – Chapel Street Primary School – Romanian


Mother Tongue – Years 7, 8, 9


Afaq Awais – Calderstones School – Urdu


Mother Tongue Years 10, 11


Chloe and Mia Chung – Formby High School – Cantonese 


Other Tongue Years 4, 5, 6


Molly Goldthorpe –  Chapel Street Primary School – French


Other Tongue Years 7, 8, 9


Ashrafur Ahamad – Cedar Mount Academy – Spanish


Other Tongue Years 10, 11


Lara O’Donoghue – Stockport Grammar School – French 


Other Tongue Year 12, 13


Joint Winner Hazel Browne – Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School – Spanish
Joint Winner – Polly Harlow – Manchester High School for Girls – German


Congratulations to all of the winners of the Mother Tongue, Other Tongue competition! 

RJ and FM


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