International mother language day
Today, February 21, is the international mother language day. This day of commemoration created by UNESCO is now in its 20th year and commemorates the importance of all languages and the need to preserve them. In One, two… tree! we know the importance of all languages and it is a pillar of our work.
At One, two… tree! our main mission is to teach English as a universal language and as a tool to access a higher standard of living. But we are equally aware of the value of all languages. The current coordinators of the projects in Mexico and Guatemala master 5 and 3 languages respectively and among their mother tongues are Galicianand Bulgarian, which, in opposition to English or Spanish, are not universal languages but local languages with a very important root in their territory.
This helps us to keep the scope of mother tongues very much in mind as a key to preserving a culture or gaining access to it. The literary culture, written or oral tradition, traditions or mythology of a people are elements that are attached to the local language and that are totally or partially lost when it loses its speakers.
This idea is reinforced by the presence in Santiago Atitlán and Zinacantán where the majority language is not Spanish but the Tz’utujil and Tzotzil Mayan languages respectively. Thanks to living in these communities we can see the power of change that a language can have in a village.
Because of the value we place on preserving local languages we are working in collaboration with local organizations to adapt our learning materials to Tz’utujil and Tzotzil. We hope that this initiative will enable us to help preserve the local language and increase the sympathy of our students for English classes. We also hope to be able to expand our classes to a part of the underserved population that did not have the possibility to learn Spanish in their youth.