Primary poets show case language skills

Jackie Kay with the poetry competition winners.
Jackie Kay with the poetry competition winners.

Two budding poets from Johnshaven Primary had their skills recognised in a multilingual poetry competition.

Students from Johnshaven Primary used their language skills to create and share poetry for this year’s Mother Tongue Other Tongue poetry competition.

Nathan Watson and Aiden Wardrop were winners in the Other Tongue category, winning the P4-P6 group for their poem written in French.

They received their prizes from Jackie Kay on the main Piazza stage at the SEC on Saturday March 11 as part of the wider Languages Show Live Scotland event. Their work will be published in an anthology.

Mother Tongue Other Tongue celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity through creative writing and showcases the many languages used by children and young people across Scotland, in school and at home. The competition is organised by SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages, based at University of Strathclyde. Jackie Kay is the patron of the competition. This year, over 200 entries were submitted from pupils across Scotland.

One teacher said of the event: “Taking part in the Mother Tongue Other Tongue poetry competition was a very worthwhile endeavour. Pupils really enjoyed creating poems in another language and interesting language based discussions were generated. The emphasis on celebrating all languages from across the globe was a great message to share with pupils and they especially enjoyed mixing their own language with the languages they are learning at school. We will definitely be taking part again next year.”

One of the pupils summed up their feelings: “I feel happy, proud and special.”

Fhiona Mackay, Director of SCILT, said: “Mother Tongue Other Tongue is a celebration of the many languages that are spoken and learned by children and young people across Scotland. The collection of their poems weaves a rich tapestry of voices that honours cultural diversity and pays testament to the wealth of Scotland’s many languages and cultures. We were delighted to see such a high calibre of entries this year, submitted in 35 different languages. Our congratulations go to the winners and to all who took part in the competition.”

Mother Tongue invites children who do not speak English as a first language to write a poem, rap or song in their mother tongue and share their inspiration. Other Tongue encourages children learning another language in school to use that language creatively with an original poem, rap or song in that other tongue. Prizes are awarded in both categories.