“Celebrating linguistic diversity, plurilingualism, lifelong language learning” – European Day of Languages

European Day of LanguagesOn 26 September the European Day of Languages is held for the seventeenth time: its origins go back to 2001 when the first ever European Day of Languages concluded a yearlong celebration of “linguistic diversity, plurilingualism and lifelong language learning”.

We couldn’t agree more with the event’s official statement, which says that “[e]verybody deserves the chance to benefit from the cultural and economic advantages language skills can bring. Learning languages also helps to develop tolerance and understanding between people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.”

No matter where you are based in Europe, there are several interesting programmes you can choose from if you’d like to join the celebrations. You can browse the events near you on the European Day of Languages website here.

European Day of Languages

Ten years ago, the Council of Europe declared the 26 September to be European Day of Languages. As well as celebrating the 6000+ languages spoken across the world, and the rich, diverse culture that lies behind them, the aim is also to show people across Europe the importance and fun of learning a new language.

In the FE office, as you might imagine, we cover a wide variety of languages, including Brazilian Portuguese, German, Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese, Hungarian and Arabic. And you might not be aware of the number of celebrities that speak more than one language. Did you know, for example, that actor Christopher Lee is able to charm with his  deep and sonorous voice in French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian, Spanish and Swedish? Or that native German speaker Pope Benedict XVI also speaks English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Latin, as well as reading Ancient Greek and biblical Hebrew.

Footballers are often lampooned for their lack of intelligence, but many speak at least two languages. Player and pundit Gary Linekar added speaking Spanish and Japanese to his talents while playing abroad and is a great ambassador for learning new languages: “I’ve really enjoyed learning Spanish and Japanese. Getting to grips with a new language can be great fun, and you learn so much about other people and what makes them tick.”

Sadly, most of our European neighbours put our own linguistic skills to shame. It is easy as a native English speaker to rely only on our own language but so much more rewarding to learn another. Why not give it a try?

Find out more about the European Day of Languages and the many advantages of learning a new language at CILT – the National Centre for Languages.