South Africa is blessed to have an incredible range of indigenous languages which we can celebrate this International Mother Language Day.
South Africa (18 February 2021) – International Mother Language Day is a worldwide celebration held on 21 February to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism. In South Africa, we have 11 official languages, and each one is beautiful in its own right.
The UN founded the International Mother Language Day to promote inclusion. By speaking multiple languages, you have the ability to connect with more people.
Each year the UN selects a theme for the celebrations and sets goals to help reach their Sustainable Development Goals. Their goal is to make sure no one is ever left behind.
This year’s observance is a call on policymakers, educators and teachers, parents and families to scale up their commitment to multilingual education, and inclusion in education to advance education recovery in the context of COVID-19. This effort also contributes to the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), for which UNESCO is the lead agency, and which places multilingualism at the heart of indigenous peoples’ development.
As mentioned, we have 11 official languages; we challenge you to use 2021 to learn a second, or third South African language.
People like Melusi Tshabalala are inspiring South Africans to learn new languages. Six days a week, advertising creative Melusi Tshabalala posts a Zulu word on his Everyday Zulu Facebook page and tells a story about it. His off-beat sense of humour, razor-sharp social observations and frank political commentary not only teaches his followers isiZulu but also offer insight into the world Melusi inhabits as a 21st century Zulu man.
Many of Melusi’s friends have also started teaching their own languages so if you are looking for another language; you can reach out and ask for a connection. If you want to learn an international language, there are so many incredible free apps to use.