Let’s take lessons from International Mother Language Day - Foysol Choudhury

Edinburgh benefits from a rich diversity of languages, from Scots and Gaelic to Urdu, Italian, Cantonese and much more.

These languages make up the fabric of the diverse city I am proud to live in, with each language allowing us to share the unique cultures, knowledge and skills from wherever in the world we have our roots.

Through language, we can share what makes us unique with our neighbours, to better understand one another and to foster tolerance among different groups.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Not only does the sharing of language allow us to sustain our vibrant, diverse city, it also allows those from throughout the world who have settled in Edinburgh maintain their mother tongue and, along with it, their traditions, sayings, songs and poems.

This is especially true when multilingualism allows for intergenerational learning and for a place’s history and culture to be passed down through generations, whether this be Bengali as I do for my children, Gaelic and Scots for many across Scotland or a whole host of other global languages.

That’s why I was so honoured to join the Lord Provost of Edinburgh last week at the City Chambers, to celebrate International Mother Language Day and the importance of promoting linguistic and cultural diversity for intergenerational learning.

Multilingual education is sadly lacking in Scotland. Language learning in education can give our children both valuable skills for their future careers and also teach understanding and tolerance, improving social cohesion in our city.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That’s why I want to see more done to promote multilingual education in our schools. I also want to see an increased focus on the teaching of Scottish Gaelic, so that Scotland’s rich history, culture and traditions can be passed down through generations with the aid of the language.

More joint work must be done with Bòrd na Gàidhlig and local authorities to revitalise the Gaelic language plan and ensure that Gaelic can be a language, yes, in the classroom, but also in the playground, home, cultural sector and on social media.

I encourage everybody to take the lessons from last week’s International Mother Language Day forward – to approach our peers and share information about our different languages and cultures, so that we can celebrate and be enriched by each others' differences and build an even more diverse, multi-cultural Edinburgh.

Importantly, we must see continued investment in important language learning in Scotland, so that the next generation can benefit from multilingualism both in terms of learning about their own history and culture, but learning about others’ too.

Foysol Choudhury is an MSP for Lothian Region