International Mother Language Day - Afea Care Services
February 22nd 2021

At Afea, we speak your language

Last Sunday 21st of February was International Mother Language Day. We love this day not just because of its relationship to diversity (which we celebrate at Afea).

We also love it because it’s so important for us all to communicate in our own language. So, what’s International Mother Language day all about?

What is Mother Language Day?

The United Nations proclaimed International Mother Language Day in November 1999.

However, it has an interesting history. In Bangladesh, 21st February has long been called Language Movement Day.

The Dominion of Pakistan was created in 1947 and included part of Bangladesh. They declared the official language as Urdu, but in 1952, there were protests because many people feared the loss of the Bengali language.

On the 21st of February, four protesting students lost their lives. It took four more years before Bengali became recognised as an official language.

Why we think it’s important to keep our mother language

Interesting fact – it’s called our ‘mother language’ because traditionally, young children grow up under the care of their mothers and grandmothers. They learn their first language from the primary caregiver – their mother.

Languages have a big role in our cultural diversity. By making sure we keep our mother tongue, we can keep important connections with our own culture and family. When our children learn their parent’s language first, it helps with their development and means they learn other languages faster.

Unfortunately, every two weeks a language disappears. With it goes different traditions, ways of thinking, memories and customs.

There are 6,000 languages spoken in the world, but at least 43% of them are endangered.

What we can do to help support language diversity?

There are many things we can do to help support language diversity. Here are some ideas:

  • We can be accepting and non-judgemental of people speaking different languages around us.
  • We can be curious about learning a new languages.
  • We can speak to our children in our mother tongue, so they keep that connection to our culture.
  • We can support our young people to learn different languages so they can be part of a more diverse culture.
  • If we have a mother tongue that is different to English, we can seek connections to people who also speak this language.

Giving everyone the opportunity to speak their mother tongue is the reason we have so many languages represented by Afea Carers.

Currently, the languages we have include:

Arabic, Assyrian, Bengali/Bangla, Bosnian, Cantonese, Cebuano, Croatian, Czech, Dari, Dinka, English, Farsi, Fiji Hindi, Finnish, French, Greek, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Hungarian, Igbo, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Lithuanian, Korean, Krio, Kurmanji, Macedonian, Ma’di, Malayalam, Malay, Maltese, Mandarin, Ndebele, Nepali, Polish, Serbian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Shona, Sinhalese, Somali, Spanish, Swahili/ Kiswahili, Swedish, Tamil, Tongan, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese, Yoruba.

It’s quite the list! However, we’re always looking for more Care Coordinators and Carers who can speak the language of our clients.

If you speak a different language (or even one of those on our current list) and are interested in care work, we’d love to hear from you. We believe it’s important for our disability and aged care clients to speak their mother tongue whenever they can.

Find out more about joining the Afea Team

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