SCHOOL pupils from East Lancashire have been invited to take part in a multilingual poetry competition backed by former champion boxer Amir Khan.

‘Mother Tongue Other Tongue’ aims to encourage children who don’t speak English at home to celebrate their mother tongue, while at the same time providing an exciting opportunity for native English speakers to learn a second language.


The competition, which is run by Manchester Metropolitan University and Routes Into Languages, takes the form of a series of regional competitions, split into two parts.

‘Mother Tongue’ will see children who do not have English as a first language write about what a lullaby, poem or song in their native language means to them, while as part of ‘Other Tongue’ pupils will create an original poem in a second language that they are learning at school.

Regions within each county will run their own versions of the project for eight to 18-year-olds, which will be launched throughout the year, with a major national celebration to be held in June.

Cllr Dave Harling, schools and education boss at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Anything that helps people understand another language and help them to communicate with others had to be a good thing.

“Learning another language is beneficial to people in all walks of life.”

Amir Khan said: “I would have loved to have entered a competition like this, because it would have given me the chance to learn a little bit more about my mother tongue.

“Speaking another language, some people might feel shy about it but they shouldn’t.

“They should have confidence and be able to talk about what other languages they speak. I think it’s definitely going to boost everyone’s confidence by having this competition.”

The competition was first thought up by the Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, in 2013.

She said: “The competition is a unique opportunity for pupils whose first language is not English and those learning another language at school to showcase their creative and linguistic talents and to have their work published in an anthology.”

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