Mother Tongues | Arvon

Mother Tongues

17 Oct 2018 / Schools

Mother Tongues Arvon Group Multilingual

Mother Tongues is an Arvon project that encourages young people to write in both English and their mother tongue.

Over the last four years Arvon has pioneered Mother Tongues, a multi-lingual creative writing programme funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The project has enabled young people from diverse communities across the UK to write in their mother tongue and English side by side, exploring both languages and cultures.

In December 2009, 16 young people from Brazil, Portugal and Mozambique took part in a week-long residential led by two professional writers who communicate in both Portuguese and English at Lumb Bank, Arvon’s centre in Yorkshire. Following the success of the first residential, a second Portuguese group took part in 2010 and then a group of Yoruba speakers of Nigerian heritage in March 2011.

From 2012 – 2013 we worked with four new language groups: Urdu, French- speaking African and Caribbean, Romanian Roma and Somali. Each group involved has also engaged in workshops in school, and the production and launch of an anthology to share their creative achievements with their school and family.

This has been a ground-breaking project in terms of recognition of Yoruba culture and language and has benefited everyone concerned.

—Lambeth LEA

It has helped me be more confident of being dual heritage.


To find out about bringing a school group to Arvon email

Mother Tongues was kindly supported by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation from 2009 to 2013.

Find out more about the Mother Tongues project and download resources here.

Schools and Groups Case Studies

St. Augustine’s Centre


Arvon worked with St. Augustine’s where nine of members enjoyed a week of creative expression at Lumb Bank.

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Good Chance


Participants worked with Roger Robinson and Malika Booker to help them identify ideas important to them, and developed these ideas into…

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Virtual Schools


Fewer than one in three Children Looked After reach the expected standard in reading and writing at the end of Key…

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Dersingham Primary & Lathom Junior Schools


In January 2018, a group of Year 5 and 6 pupils, aged 9-11, from two linked primary schools in the London…

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