Fun fact about our office – If you were to come in and speak French, German, Spanish, Italian or English, Someone will understand you! Jo speaks all four languages. Guille speaks three and David speaks two. If I’m honest I think I’m still struggling with English and it’s my only language! So you can imagine my awe when we attended this event and saw students from all over the country effortlessly reading poems in all these other languages!

It has never been easier to travel the world and with recent technological developments we increasingly have a global outlook. Still, speaking another language may be a nerve-racking thought, especially for school children. Children who are bilingual are sometimes reticent about speaking their home language in front of peers. Equally learning a foreign language in school can be a daunting prospect.

That’s where Routes into Languages comes in! The organisation does exactly what it says on the tin. It gives people a route into speaking, reading, writing and celebrating foreign languages. This year they co-ordinated a competition aimed at children from primary school age right up to the age of 18 called ‘Mother tongue, Other Tongue’. The ‘Mother Tongue’ element meant that children whose first language was not English could share a poem in their own language which was meaningful to them. It is a great way to celebrate diversity and to encourage children to be proud of their heritage. The ‘Other tongue’ part of the competition was to encourage children to use a language they were learning in a more creative way.

Schools from across the country gathered in Manchester to congratulate the winners of the poetry competition led by the Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy and to meet Amir Khan who is a patron of the competition. Being bilingual in English and Punjabi, Amir Khan was incredibly supportive of the competition and was highly impressed by just how many languages were spoken in one room!


One by one, the competition winners took to the stage to read their poems or songs, from Italian to German, French to Cantonese, these children and teenagers were incredible! It was amazing to be part of such an event and truly inspiring to see these students speaking in their mother tongues and other tongues. Thank you Routes into Languages for organising this event.

We are really proud of how our film showcases this event. Watch it below!


Routes into Languages from Viva La Zoom on Vimeo.