[Hakka-Mandarin Bilingual Text] Hakka Language Workers Seek to Pass Down and Popularize Mother Tongue on International Mother Language Day

On the occasion of International Mother Language Day, the Hakka Affairs Council (HAC) organized the Outstanding Hakka Language Promotion Awards Ceremony and Hakka Language Education Forum on February 21 to encourage those dedicated to the transmission and development of Hakka. This year, in terms of promoting Hakka as a regional common language, the Miaoli County Government was again the Excellence Award winner among county/city governments; as for townships/districts, the Excellence Awards went to Qionglin Township Office, Hsinchu County; Sanyi Township Office, Miaoli County; and Shigang District Office, Taichung City. Awards were given to central government agencies or their subordinate institutions for the first time this year: the Excellence Award winners were the Hsinchu Branch, Bureau of Standards, Meteorology, and Inspection, Ministry of Economic Affairs; and the Hsinchu-Miaoli Business Office, Business Department, CPC Corporation, Taiwan.

HAC Minister Yiong Con-ziin stated that International Mother Language Day originated on February 21, 1952 when the East Pakistan people fought to preserve their mother tongue, Bangla, thereby prompting more peoples to place emphasis on their language and culture. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the date as International Mother Language Day on February 21, 1999. Minister Yiong expressed gratitude to the award-winning institutions for their precious efforts to build a Hakka-friendly nation. Hakka language revitalization is a key policy of HAC, implemented through schools, communities, and public areas. Three preschools and 12 educators, 63 local governments/institutions, and two central government agencies were recognized in 2023. HAC is extremely grateful for their dedication to promoting the Hakka language.

The 2 days-long Hakka Language Education Forum followed right after the awards ceremony, keeping up the momentum. Head Teacher Berian Lewis of Ysgol Gymunedol Plascrug Community School was especially invited this year to share the Welsh teaching experience for this year’s event. Head Teacher Lewis said that Plascrug School strives to promote bilingual education in Welsh and English, enabling students to confidently use both languages in daily life, at school and in their communities. He also candidly tells students that speaking Welsh can enable them to become confident global citizens.

Dr. Hanna Binks, Welsh Linguist of Prifysgol Aberystwyth University, was invited to give a keynote lecture on the challenges and response measures of bilingual education research. Linguists of Hakka, Taiwanese indigenous languages, and Hokkien conducted discussions on fostering local language education in Taiwan, as to understand and learn from each other’s experience in mother language revitalization.