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The New Speaker Guide

How do you talk about language? How do you tell people about your experiences talking new languages, and the reasons you have for deciding to learn other languages?

Mother Tongues

Mother Tongues was founded in January 2017 with the aim of providing advice and support for parents who are raising multilingual children. Since then, they have worked with over 300 families throughout Ireland by providing half-day courses and monthly meetings for parents, as well as one-to-one consultation on issues concerning language development and language difficulties.

Mother Tongues

In 2018 Mother Tongues received the GHP Social Care Award for Best Bilingualism Support Advisor. Mother Tongues services include talks and courses in pre-schools and primary schools on bilingual language development, in-company training for parents raising bilingual children, private consultations for parents and teachers and they hold monthly meetings with bilingualism experts. www.mothertongues.ie

Languages in Ireland today

Today, the official languages of Ireland are Irish and English, while Ulster Scots and Shelta are the indigenous minority languages. Amongst others, Northern Ireland and Irish Sign Language and Polish, Lithuanian, Spanish, Russian, Romanian, Chinese, Latvian, Portuguese, Arabic, Italian, Yoruba, Slovak, Malayalam, Urdu, Hungarian, Filipino, Tagalog, Czech, Dutch, Hindi, Igbo, Bengali, Ukrainian, Afrikaans, Swedish, Bulgarian, Bosnian, Croatian, Albanian, Japanese, Swahili, Shona, Akan, Thai, Turkish, Estonian, Malay, Tamil, Punjabi, Somali and Vietnamese are widely spoken.

New Speakers

The term New Speaker refers to people who learn languages in addition to what they would consider their ‘native’ or ‘own’ language, or their ‘mother-tongue’. In doing so, New Speakers transcend the dominant culture and society around them by broadening their horizons and adapting to new linguistic and social opportunities. The quotes on the following pages are extracts from conversations between Deirdre MacKenna and Agata Urbanska, Brian Thunder, Daniele Sambo, Hanneke Scott-Van Weil, Leena Nammari, Miren Manias, Nadifa Essa and Nina Bacos, who shared their stories and opinions about being a New Speaker today.

all language is an exchange

it’s just another code it’s all about circles and relationships I need to understand my children my neighbours my work so many people have a different first language we have a bond between us

knowing only one culture makes you afraid of other cultures it means freedom, freedom to be me

they don’t ask about my journey

I still make mistakes I need time people don’t see how rich these languages are or the riches these languages can give to them here, people have no idea what languages I speak language allows me to be part of daily life I lose my words sometimes they fly away sometimes arrive too late they underestimate me

people are very impatient

they have the potential to make trouble for me I don’t want to insult anyone and I don’t want to be insulted people in power positions can deny what I need if you cannot speak you are in a cage they speak about me when I’m sitting right beside them it’s frustrating

it’s just another code

it helps us to understand Other People and there are a lot of Other People in the world learning a new language is difficult for everyone

speaking with an accent isn’t always a good idea... we all make paths between languages some make an extra effort some recede it’s always an exchange on both sides

New Speaker Studio

This booklet is part of The New Speaker Studio made by Deirdre MacKenna, which was inspired and commissioned by the EU COST programme The New Speakers Network. It was published by Mother Tongues for the New Speaker Studio installation by Deirdre MacKenna at The Mother Tongues Festival 24 February 2018. Please join other New Speakers at www.nspk.org.uk/the-new-speaker-studio.html

Produced with the funding, support and partnership of

Mother Tongues Festival

To celebrate UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day, Mother Tongues has organised its first multilingual festival which features performances and workshops in many different languages. Having a festival in which many languages are used for many different purposes is our way of showing that every language matters, no matter how big or small it is! The Mother Tongues Festival is proud to have been awarded part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage. www.mothertonguesfestival.com


New Speaker Stories

Language can define individual and collective identities. It is a part of every exchange we have with other people, yet it is difficult to describe and imagine. Without language, it’s difficult to gain employment, access education and social services and join in with our neighbours, friends, families and community. Yet the processes whereby people learn new languages and become legitimate speakers of these languages are complex and not always well understood.

Profile for Deirdre MacKenna

The New Speakers Guide for Dublin in English - February 2018  

The New Speakers Guide for Dublin in English - February 2018  


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