GEMS Education schools celebrate 'International Mother Language Day'

GEMS Founders School Al Barsha led the celebrations by recognising almost 70 different languages – complementing this year’s theme of 'Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education'

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: With GEMS Education schools across the UAE observing ‘International Mother Language Day’, GEMS Founders School Al Barsha led the celebrations by recognising almost 70 different languages – complementing this year’s theme of 'Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education'.

'International Mother Language Day' was proclaimed in November 1999 by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The initiative was established to promote linguistic & cultural diversity, and highlights the important role languages play in preserving and developing heritage.

Dino Varkey, Chief Executive Officer, GEMS Education, said: "Today marks the UN’s International Mother Language Day. Across all our schools we believe in the importance of encouraging and celebrating languages, especially mother-tongue languages. Whether it be Arabic, French, Mandarin, Urdu or Swahili, preserving these languages for future generations is a role we all at GEMS Education take seriously."

Students from each year group at GEMS Founder School - Al Barsha were involved in activities during the first two periods to celebrate 'International Mother Language Day'.

FS 1 and 2 students presented songs to greet their classmates in their home language. Year 1 and 2 students prepared a short oral presentation teaching the class how to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ as well as count numbers up to five – all in their mother tongues. Year 3, 4, 5 and 6 chose from either presenting a short song/poem/play, taught numbers up to 10, or a list of words (greetings / colours / foods / sports /animals). Year 7, 8 and 9 developed a short piece including fun-facts about their mother-tongue, taught common words and numbers to their class and played a song in their language.

Matthew Burfield, Principal and CEO, GEMS Founders School, said: “While we of course are celebrating International Mother Language Day today, at GEMS Founders School we celebrate languages every day. Every week since we started, we pick a language that the entire school has to learn. If a language is very difficult we will extend this to two weeks. Our aim is to get the whole learning community engaged in our language and multi-cultural discoveries.”

The students at GEMS Founders School have also developed a Language Committee, created and led by Izza Binnie, Head of Languages,in an effort to raise awareness about endangered languages.

Kavya Subramanian, a Grade 8 student, said: "I really like the concept of the language committee. Languages are a major part of our lives and is your identity. So to introduce and educate more and more people about all the languages around the world, our school has come up with the idea of the ‘Languages Tree’."

According to the United Nations, 'More than 50 per cent of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken in the world are likely to die out within a few generations, and 96 per cent of these languages are spoken by a mere 4 per cent of the world's population.'

Since opening in 2016 the school has placed a special emphasis on learning languages, with a new video released every Thursday watched by all classes. Led by the language students crew at the school, some of the languages covered included Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Romanian and Swahili, among others.