Language Day was in six languages in multi-cultural Tower Hamlets

Agata, 18, and Karina, 17, from EC Lighthouse Lithuanian School

Agata, 18, and Karina, 17, from EC Lighthouse Lithuanian School - Credit: TH Council

More than 600 children who packed this year’s International Language Day festival from schools and faith groups all over London’s East End had a cultural evening of songs, dance, poetry and plays.

Members of Udichi Performing Arts Group

Members of Udichi Performing Arts Group - Credit: TH Council

Performances were in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Lithuanian, Somali and Spanish with youngsters learning basic phrases and dance moves after each performance.

The annual event at Bethnal Green’s York Hall coincides with the UN International Mother Language Day, a global event in memory of those who died in the former East Pakistan 62 years ago in clashes over recognition of Bengali as an official state language. The Bengali community is today the East End’s biggest ethnic group.

Awards were also presented for best language projects of the year.

Top community project was by EC Lighthouse Lithuanian School in Stepney, best mainstream after school project by Thomas Buxton Primary in Whitechapel.

International Language Day writing competition winners were Modestas Danikauskas, 13, from EC Lighthouse, for ‘best article’, Mujahid Chowdhury, 6, for ‘best language’ poster and Sadia Begum, 10, for ‘best leaflet writing’, both from Bow Muslim centre, while Phoenix School in Bow got a special distinction.

Some 2,000 children attend 70 after school clubs each week in various languages under Tower Hamlets education authority, which offers early GCSEs for ages 11 to 14 through its after-school programme. Nine-out-of-10 youngsters got A* to C grades last year.