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Language Day
February 21

You probably know that many of the world's plants and animals are in danger of extinction, but did you know that many human languages are in danger of becoming extinct, too?

Globalization has helped to make the world a smaller place. But it has also contributed to the loss of many languages around the world. Now only 10 languages make up over half the world population's mother languages. Once there were about 8000 different languages spoken on our planet. Now there are only about 6500, and half of them are endangered. In fact, every two weeks another language disappears forever!

Languages are important. They do much more than help people communicate. A language helps define a culture, history and ancestry of a group of people. Once a language is lost, humanity loses a part of our rich culture and heritage. Helping to preserve endangered languages is important to keep traditions alive.

UNESCO promotes events and activities on International Mother Language Day on February 21 to help encourage the recognition and celebration of the diverse heritage of humanity's mother tongues, especially minority ones, and to raise awareness about the need to preserve endangered languages. The Day provides a wonderful opportunity to discover and celebrate the rich diversity of languages spoken in our own communities.


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for printable PDF Handout

DO ONE THING for a Better World

1. Find out more about saving languages.

2. Learn about a language and culture different from your own.

3. Find out how many different languages are spoken in your community.

4. Support organizations working to preserve language and culture.


UNESCO's International Mother Language Day site

United Nations:
UN's Dag Hammarskjold Library links
UN Works for Cultural Diversity: Language

Ethnologue - an encylcopedia of the 6912 living languages
Foundation for Endangered Languages
Modern Language Association
The Rosetta Project - building an archive of ALL human languages
SIL International




Language Day

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Language Day - Feb 21

Kofi Annan


James Baldwin

Jimmy Carter

Noam Chomsky

John Denver

Albert Einstein

Scilla Elworthy

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Herbie Hancock

Aldous Huxley

Thomas Jefferson

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nelson Mandela

Maria Montessori

Nana Mouskouri

Barack Obama

Bertrand Russell

Amartya Sen

Robert Alan Silverstein

Henry David Thoreau

Mark Twain

Simone Weil

Front Cover

HEROPIX for a Better World
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Kofi Annan

Noam Chomsky

John Denver

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Aldous Huxley

Henry David Thoreau

Mark Twain


Do One Thing Calendar

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Kids | Youth | Adults | Calendar | Quotes | Heroes | Stories | The EMILY Fund | Scholarships
DO ONE THING and BetterWorld Kids Clubs are projects of The EMILY Fund (The Emily Silverstein Fund, Inc.)
Hero portraits are included for illustration purposes only - no celebrity endorsement implied

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