What happens in Multilingual Month 2018?

Happy mother language day 21.2! Multilingual Month is about to begin! This month will offer a lot to follow for people interested in increasing their skills and knowledge about multilingualism in the Nordic countries. Our blogs focus on the other hand on issues of the Sámi languages alterning with a blog series that moves in a widely multilingual context from poets, language learning and dictionaries to creative communities. Events organized in Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway give ideas of the multiple ways of approaching, sharing and celebrating the lingual diversity in our actual societies. Welcome to follow,  join and contribute!

Blog posts in 2018 offer multilingual visions from Sápmi, Iceland, Norway and Finland

Our blog of Multilingual Month 2018 includes two parts. Altering with the texts about the widely multilingual Nordic region, we have a blog series curated by Helga West, reporter of YLE Sápmi, focusing on current issues related to Sámi languages. In the first blog text in this series West presented shortly themes of the blog and her ideas behind the blog series.

The other blog articles come this year from Iceland, Finland and Norway.

From Iceland’s very active field of multilingualism we have two posts. Renata Peskova’s post talks about the Móðurmál association that has over twenty years of history in finding different ways to teach mother tongues to plurilingual children in Iceland. A different story is the one of ÓsPressan, a multilingual and inclusive writing community that promotes new authors and offers platforms for creative people in Reykjavik. Anna Valdís will tell us more in her post. In regards to Iceland´s multilingual fields, we also want to thank Kristin Vilhjalmsdóttir, who has contacted us with many of the Icelandic organizations.

From Norway, Giti Nassouri from Oslo’s multilingual library gives an insight to multilingual contents from the point of view of a librarian in charge of Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Dutch, Greek, Dari, Pashto, Persian and Urdu book collections. In her post she will write about Indian, Iranian and Pakistani poets.

The texts from Finland come from Husein Muhammed and Ahmed Hassan with Konsta Savolainen. Husein Muhammed’s blog post presents the case of constructing a Kurdish-Finnish dictionary at Kotus, Institute for the languages of Finland, as part of a dictionary series for speakers of migrant languages. Muhammed’s work with words will continue in a report about Nordic-Kurdish literature. Konsta Savolainen and Ahmed Hassan from NordicSom organization write about the work of motivating migrant youth to become plurilingual by encouraging them to learn Swedish in Finland as the Swedish skills often offer more opportunities in Finland. A video will illustrate their post.

Events related to multilingualism in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland

Every Nordic country has different creative ideas in the interdisciplinary fields of multilingualism. In Iceland several organizations including Reykjavik City LIbrary, Óspressan, Modurmal and Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding will host language related events during Multilingual Month. In Sweden, Litteraturcentrum Uppsala continues with their yearly tradition of Mother language poetry festival (Modersmålpoesifestival, Feb 28th). In Finland Helsinki cultural centres offer a series of events including a multimedia poetry night (March 17th), a fair of educational methods in multilingual contexts (Leikin sata kieltä ja tarinaa March 1st), film screening of a new documentary What language do you speak? with a discussion with the director of the film (March 6th) and a children´s exhibition about multilingual families with a rich side programme (Mennään jo naapuriin!). Libraries offer storytelling in different languages. In Norway, the multilingual library of Oslo has been active for years in creating materials for the celebration of Mother Language Day and thus contributed in making visible and easily organizable the celebration of languages.

In the context of Multilingual Month, our idea is to share different forms of working in multilingual contexts, seeing multilingualism as a richness. We will be happy to share language related events during Multilingual month as a form of making other people aware of the kind of work that is being done in other Nordic countries in this field. Feel free to post your event link to us or tell us about your ongoing projects!

During Multilingual Month 21.2.-21.3. we will share at www.multilingualmonth.org and in facebook information about different organizations that work with multilingualism. At the same time, the website will increase its link archive of Nordic organizations and projects that can offer new insights to linguistic diversity. Our aim is to contribute to the flourishing of our region as one where the freedom of expression includes also a wider choice of languages of expression. Multilingual Month is part of the project Multilingualism and Diversity as a Resource in the Cultural Field coordinated by Culture for All Service in the frame of  Norden2020.

Leikin sata kieltä ja tarinaa / The hundred languages of playing

Leikin sata kieltä ja tarinaa / The hundred languages of playing is a fare about children’s education in multilingual and intercultural contexts. In 2018 the event is organized for the third year as part of the programme of Satakielikuukausi / Multilingual Month. In the event, focused for professional educators and parents, various actors in the Helsinki metropolitan area present the latest materials, methods and projects.They will introduce activities promoting and supporting children’s play, play between children and adults, using stories as material for play, overcoming language barriers through play, and the accessibility of children’s literature in various languages.
In 2018 the event took place in:
Thu 1.3.2018 at 12.30 – 16.00
Stoa, Lobby
Turunlinnantie 1

Leikin sata kieltä ja tarinaa

Kasvatusalan ammattilaisille ja lasten vanhemmille suunnatussa tapahtumassa pääkaupunkiseudun eri toimijat esittelevät tuoreimpia materiaaleja, metodeja ja projekteja. 

Esillä on ajankohtaisia toimintoja, joilla edistetään ja tuetaan lasten omaa leikkiä, lasten ja aikuisten välistä leikkiä, tarinan käyttämistä leikin aineksena, kielirajojen ylittämistä leikissä sekä erikielisen lastenkirjallisuuden saavutettavuutta.

Tapahtuma on hyvä tilaisuus kuulla tämän hetken projekteista sekä verkostoitua alan ihmisiin ja toimijoihin. Tapahtuma on suunnattu pääkaupunkiseudun varhaiskasvatusalan, kulttuuritoimen ja kirjastojen ammattilaisille, alan järjestöille ja opiskelijoille sekä lasten vanhemmille.

Yhteistyössä mm. kulttuuri-, kirjasto- ja liikuntapalvelut sekä varhaiskasvatus ja esiopetus.

Leikin sata kieltä ja tarinaa on osa kielellistä moninaisuutta juhlivaa Satakielikuukautta, joka järjestetään 21.2.–21.3.2018.

Paikka: Stoan aula

Somali Nordic Culture promotes reading and writing in Somali

Somali Nordic Culture is an association located in Sweden. It works to increase interest towards Somali Culture organizing events and festivals, activities for children, film and theater presentations and promotes reading and writing in Somali language. Nordic Somali Culture publishes a children’s magazine Carruurterna (Our children) in Somali language that is distributed to more than 100 libraries in Sweden.

The members are reading promoters, students, writers, storytellers, librarians, journalists and artists.


In Swedish

Somali Nordic Culture är en kulturell  och ideell förening som är partipolitiskt och religiöst obunden. Föreningen består av läsfrämjare, studenter, författare, sagoberättare, bibliotekarier, journalister och konstnärer. Somali Nordic Culture grundades 2011 och föreningens verksamhet riktar sig till barn, ungdomar och vuxna och till både kvinnor och män.

Somali Nordic Culture har som syfte:

  • Att öka intresset för den Somaliska kulturen genom att hålla kulturföreställningar, barn aktiviteter, kulturfestivaler och film och teateruppvisningar.
  • Att väcka intresse för det skrivna ordet. Att hålla seminarier om ny utgivna litteratur där man träffar och diskuterar med författarna. Målet är att öka intresset för läsning av böcker på olika språk samt re-censera och diskutera kring dem.
  •  Att utveckla elevers kunskap och förståelse av utbildningen. Vi ordnar läxhjälp för grundskola och gymnasieskola elever. Målet är Att den svensk-somaliska gruppens utbildningsnivå höjs avsevärt för att förbättra förutsättningarna för dem att lyckas i  samhället.
  • Att integrera nyanlända somalier genom samhällsinformation och stöd i tidigt skede för att motverka utanförskap.

The Women’s Story Circle (Söguhringur kvenna) in Reykjavik City Library

Image: a visual art piece, a new map of Reykjavík, created by The Women´s Story Circle under the guidance of Lilianne Vorstenbosch

A worldful of stories

The Women’s Story Circle is a co-operation between Reykjavik City Library and W.O.M.E.N. in Iceland. A forum where women exchange stories, experiences and cultural backgrounds and take part in creative activities. It is open to women who are interested in meeting other women, sharing stories and ideas and having a nice time in good and relaxed company. The Women’s Story Circle also gives women who want to practice the Icelandic language the perfect opportunity to express themselves in Icelandic and enhance their language skills.

All women are welcome! Here is a short video about the project.

You can follow the activities on Facebook, we have a group and a page.

Reykjavik City Library runs several  intercultural projects where the goal is to promote awareness of the positive values of cultural diversity in our society. The library puts an emphasis on co-operating with social service centres, schools, organizations and individuals from all over the world living in Reykjavík. The IFLA/UNESCO Multicultural Library Manifesto is used as a guideline in this work.

Kristín R. Vilhjálmsdóttir is the manager of multicultural projects at Reykjavík City Library. She is a language teacher and intercultural project manager, who has coordinated several award-winning projects related to interculturalism and multilingualism.




Learning for Integration: multilingual language cafés, language-specific playgroups for kids, language expert services etc.

Learning for Integration ry promotes the learning of languages and cultural sensitivity of migrant, immigrant and refugee children and youth in Finland and other Nordic countries. It aims to facilitate the new members’ integration into the new culture and the development of a multicultural society. It also supports Swedish learning in Finland.

Learning for integration organizes activities such as the popular language cafés in more than 10 languages, Story time circles, playgroups for kids in different languages and craft and theatre groups. It also offers expert services including workshops for teachers, specific learning materials and affordable but high quality editing, proofreading and translations to NGOs and other organizations working mainly for public good in Finnish, English, French, Russian, Swedish and other languages according to demand.

The multilingual work team of Learning for integration is presented at their website.

Story Sharing Universum

Story Sharing Universum is a project which helps immigrants, asylum seekers and Finns to meet and share stories together in several languages. The project has two parts: Story Sharing Cafés, which are open to the public, and storytelling workshops for asylum seekers at reception centres. Story sharing cafés have developed work formats that permit to communicate in a multilingual way with guides who speak different mother languages. The group speaks at least Arabic, English, Finnish, Swedish, Russian, French, Dari, Pashto and Farsi (/Persian).

Story sharing café is a part of City of Helsinki’s official integration programme for year 2017.

Reading by listening – a Nordic collaboration produces talking books in Arabic and Sámi

In the Nordic countries, the need for talking books in other languages than European languages has increased during the last few years. Due to the amount of refugees coming to the Nordic countries, a cooperation concerning the production of talking books in Arabic and Sámi languages started in 2015. The involved libraries are Celia in Finland, Nota in Denmark, NLB in Norway, Hljodbokasafn in Iceland and MTM in Sweden. They are all focused in accesible literature and publishing. 25 talking books in Arabic and 6 in Sámi will be produced in this project by spring 2017. 

According to Statistics for the Northern Countries, we anticipate that up to 20% of the population in each country have a foreign background.  Approx. 6-8 % of the total population in the Nordic countries have some kind of reading impairment. This indicates that a large group of the population with a foreign background need accessible media. Many refugees  coming to the Nordic Countries have Arabic as their native language.

These facts made it clear that we would have to find ways to increase the production of talking books in other languages than the national languages and English. The idea to cooperate with the other Nordic libraries was discussed among the libraries and was soon decided upon.

After analysing the demand for foreign language we decided that the project should focus on producing Arabic titles. This resulted in an agreement to produce a total of 25 talking books in Arabic, both for adults and children, by spring 2017. The great advantage of this project, besides satisfying the users´ needs of these titles, is that the libraries share the cost of production. Each library will produce 5 titles and will gain 25 titles. 

In addition to the Arabic titles we will also produce 6 new titles in the Northern Sámi Language. Sámi is a minority language and it is important that we contribute in making Sámi titles available for persons with print disabilities.

Our experience is that it is both nice and intellectually stimulating to be able to read the same book in different languages.  

MTM (Swedish Agency for Accessible Media), Nota (the Danish Library and Expertise Center for people with print disabilities) and NLB (Norsk lyd- og blindeskriftbibliotek) are also part of the TIGAR-service. The TIGAR service (Trusted Intermediary Global Accessible Resources),  makes it easier for participating institutions to search internationally for books in accessible formats, and to exchange them across national borders. It currently contains titles in accessible formats in some 55 languages. Participation in TIGAR is free of charge; there is no membership fee or financial contribution required from a participating institution or end-user.

TIGAR is a part of the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC). The ABC aims to increase the number of books worldwide in accessible formats – such as braille and audio – and to make them available to people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled. The ABC is a multi-stakeholder partnership, comprising World Intellectual Property Organization WIPO; organizations that serve people with print disabilities; and publishers and authors.

Written by Junko Söderman and Kristina Passad from MTM, Swedish Agency for Accessible Media and Kari Kummeneje from NLB, Norsk lyd- og blindeskriftbibliotek. Other participants in the project have been Eeva Paunonen,  Eva Hellén, Tove Elisabeth Berg, and Hafthor Ragnarsson.