February is...

30 January 2015

Medway Youth Trust's equality and diversity focus for February is Mother languages as February 21st is International Mother Language Day.

I am from Ireland and Irish culture and heritage is very important to me but unfortunately I cannot speak the Irish language fluently and I find this to be a big regret.

In school I resigned myself to thinking I was not a 'language person' but I have since found myself in a position where I have needed to learn a language.

While travelling in South America I needed to learn basic Spanish to get by and while living and working in Sweden I found that I was limiting my opportunities by not learning the language. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed learning a language as soon as I was in a situation where I needed to use it on a daily basis and I was even more surprised by how much my confidence in my own ability grew as soon as I learned the basics. In eight months I successfully passed a Swedish for Immigrants government regulated exam and could hold a conversation in Swedish. I cannot yet speak another language fluently however I now know that I have it in me to get to that level. I have learned that there is no such thing as not being a language person and that I can learn and use my national language and another language if I put my mind to it and believe in my own ability.

Sheila Heffernan

Youth Support Adviser

Olya Ramsey is a volunteer at MYT.  In the below clip she reflects on her mother language (Ukrainian) and how she wishes she could still converse in this language.


Konkani is a member of the southern Indo-Aryan language group. Konkani is the official language of the Indian state of Goa.This is the only language I could speak until I was 5 years old and started school. I learnt to speak English at school, along with other Indian languages, Hindi (national language) and Kannada (state language)

I still speak Konkani at home and with family members back in India. My child, Nikhil (aged 4) who was born in this country could speak Konkani until he started nursery when he turned 2. He realised that nobody else at nursery understood him when he speaks Konkani and learnt to speak English. Nikhil now refuses to speak it and says he only wants to speak English as he isn’t Indian but English.  It is a tough challenge to promote my mother tongue with him but he is slowly showing an interest and has picked up a few words. He also gets very distressed when my husband and I have a conversation in Konkani because he cannot understand it. However, he enjoys the fact that nobody else around us can understand what we say when we speak Konkani and that has been an incentive for him to learn a few words as we can share secrets.

Konkani has been a part of my culture and a language which I am proud of.

Priya Pai
Skills and Employabitly Adviser 


Help us by sharing this post
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • Tweet this
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Google
  • LinkedIn