Languages of origin matter.
From the moment we learn to string together a few words together in a sentence we’re given a true sense of freedom to express ourselves. Language helps us take our internal world (thoughts, feelings, ideas), and make them external. Language gives each human being a voice. This is the place where we put our individuality on display by communicating and interacting with the world around us.
For that reason alone, our individual languages of origin are worth celebrating. As a global culture, we should feel proud and free to speak our mother languages at any time and any place.
On Sunday, February 21st, we’ll have yet another opportunity to celebrate International Mother Language Day.
A brief history of International Mother Language Day
It all started in 1952 when Dhaka University Students in Bangladesh protested the widespread suppression of their Bengali language. It was proclaimed “Language Movement Day,” to give awareness around global threats to linguistic diversity.
In 1999, UNESCO approved the yearly observance of International Mother Language Day as a way to continue to raise awareness around language suppression happening around the world. It has been observed every year since.
While many people are free to speak their language of origin, not everyone is so fortunate. The threats to linguistic diversity are very real today. According to UNESCO, roughly 40% of the global population does not have sufficient access to education in a language they can understand. Additionally, more than 40% of the nearly 7,000 languages spoken across the globe are endangered.
While progress is being made to bring awareness around language suppression and language education, there are some practical ways you can bring awareness to the issue to your own organizations. It’s just as important today, as it was in 1952 to take time to recognize the importance of language diversity.
Why we love this year’s International Mother Language Day theme
Since 2013 UNESCO has given each International Mother Language Day a core theme. This year’s theme, Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society couldn’t be more in line with the work we’re engaged in at Rosetta Stone. Helping organizations embrace multilingualism through the power of language learning is what we’re all about.
As more and more globally-minded organizations embrace the call to improved diversity and inclusion efforts, language learning will live at the epicenter of that effort.
As a result, language learning helps global companies:
- Foster multilingualism in the workplace
- Ensure all voices are heard and appreciated across your workforce
- Develop cultural intelligence as a corporate value
- Encourage a spirit of inclusivity
- Democratize communication regardless of an employee’s language of origin