We'd like to thank Dame Carol Ann Duffy, Amir Khan, Qaisra Shahraz, Professor Sharon Handley and Yasmin Hussain for their support of the Mother Tongue Other Tongue Competition.


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

Dame Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate

The Mother Tongue Other Tongue poetry competition is a Laureate Education Project. Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate, described it as  “the best competition in the country”.

“The competition was set up to celebrate the many languages and cultures that make up the UK today.  Differences in languages and culture are often considered to be barriers to communication but the language of poetry is read all over the world and all cultures have their own poets and poetry. The young people represented here are poetry’s children and the way they see our world is fresh and inspiring. In appreciating the poetry of others, or in sharing original poetry in their own language or in a language new to them, these fledgling poets bring another perspective to an art form, which can break down such perceived barriers”. 

Malala Yousafzai

"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."

Amir Khan

Amir Khan, the Olympic silver medallist and world boxing champion said:

"I think it's important to encourage more pupils in school to learn a language and this competition is a great way to boost children's confidence."

Imtiaz Dharker

Imtiaz Dharker, award winning poet, artist and documentary film-maker said:

“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.”

Qaisra Shahraz

Qaisra Shahraz, British-Pakistani novelist and scriptwriter, college inspector, teacher trainer, education consultant and freelance journalist said of the competition:

“Mother Tongue Other Tongue project inspires children, builds their confidence and celebrates their achievements as well as their ability to use language and write poetry.”

Professor Sharon Handley

Professor Sharon Handley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Co-Director of Routes into Languages North West said of the competition:

“It explores the relationship between language and cultural heritage, encouraging pupils who are native speakers of another language to share their heritage with their peers through a poem or song in their mother tongue thus valuing the many communities which make up this vibrant city of Manchester and the UK in general”

Dr Yasmin Hussain

Dr Yasmin Hussain, Faculty Outreach Manager and Co-Director of Routes into Languages North West said of the competition:

"Mother Tongue Other Tongue is a fantastic project. The competition is unique as it allows pupils to use their bilingualism creatively. The project has allowed pupils to explore their multiple identities through culture, poetry and language. Being multilingual has many advantages and it’s great that pupils learn to value this early on in their lives.

Each year the project has gone from strength to strength. We look forward to making this a trans-national project and celebrating multilingualism through poetry and culture."