The Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition is coordinated by Routes into Languages North West:

Routes into languages - left image

Malala Yousafzai

"Our cultural heritage, identity and languages are all important to us and poetry is a great way to express these – I am very inspired by The Mother Tongue Other Tongue Project" 

Read the poems from the 2019 Mother Tongue Other Tongue Northwest Anthology:



Download the Anthology 2019


Manchester Childrens Book Festival

This Laureate Education Project is a multilingual poetry competition that celebrates cultural diversity and the many languages spoken in schools in the UK.

Mother Tongue Other Tongue is a national Laureate Education Project, led by the Poet Laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy. Regional competitions and events take place throughout the year. The competition is co-ordinated by Routes into Languages.

The Queen's Anniversary Prize

“It’s an honour to win the Queen’s Award for the Mother Tongue Other Tongue project. Thank you to everyone for supporting us and being part of our journey and success.

Languages matter, the Mother Tongue Other Tongue project allows creative expression in the classroom, celebrates our beautiful cultural diversity and home languages”.

Project Manager, Dr Yasmin Hussain 


The competition is officially endorsed by Malala Yousafzai, youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner and education activist.

"When you are learning another language, you learn to think in that language, you learn to speak in that language and you learn to believe in that language and it allows you to think from a completely different perspective: it's not just about the words and the grammar but the culture and the language it is associated with.

It's a skill - a talent - and I hope those of you learning a new language continue to do so because the more you learn, the broader your mind becomes and allows you to think big."

The competition is officially endorsed by Imtiaz Dharker, award winning poet, artist and documentary film-maker. 

“Mother Tongue Other Tongue gives young people a way to cross borders in the most exciting way – through language.

Moving between a first language and a learned one, listening to what is shared, what is different and what happens in translation, is an act of empowerment: it changes the way students see their own lives and others’, as well as how they imagine themselves in the world.

They are able to pay attention to the words, the lullabies and songs they grew up with and shine all that light into the place where they are today.

This is a project that celebrates all the richness of languages spoken in Britain.

It feels as if it should always have existed, and I wish I had had something like it when I was growing up. It would have saved me all the years of stumbling over my own tongue before I learned to respect it.

It is inspiring to see these young people coming to language as something freshly discovered, newly-made. That is where poetry begins.” 


About the Competition

There are two separate parts to the poetry competition. Children from Year 4 to Year 13 can enter one or both parts of the competition.



The Mother Tongue part of the competition requires children who do not have English as a first language, or who speak a different language at home, to share a lullaby, poem or song from their Mother Tongue. They then write a short piece in English to explain the poem’s significance to them.  

The Other Tongue part of the competition encourages children learning another language in school to use that language creatively to write a poem.

The project was originally devised by staff in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Manchester Metropolitan University and Routes into Languages North West. It has been running since 2012.