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European Day of Languages

Author: Michael Armstrong/25 September 2014/Categories: European Day of Languages

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The European Day of Languages which was established in 2001 to encourage language learning
across Europe appears to gain in popularity from year to year. With just one day to go until EDL 2014, there already some 500 events in the Calendar of activities for the Day. All over Europe event organizers have put a huge amount of creativity into planning their activities. From ‘ Readathons ’, speak dating, karaoke and rap contests to symposia on literary translation and conferences on the future of language professionals, there is a huge diversity in the events proposed as well as the languages targeted. As well as events taking place in just about every a European country – the Day of Languages has reached as far afield as Canada, Egypt, India, Uzbekistan and French Polynesia. The demand for materials this year has also been quite overwhelming which suggests that we are heading for a very popular day!

In his statement to mark the 2014 European Day of Languages, Thorbjørn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, highlights "the powerful role languages play in helping to build and maintain tolerant, peaceful and inclusive societies”. He also underlines the importance of challenging existing mindsets and embracing diversity to ensure that “languages become the key to intercultural dialogue and mutual respect”, rather than a source of misunderstanding ( for the full statement see here ).

In her statement, Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, describes languages as “…inseparable from our cultural heritage and what makes us who we are.” She adds that “the European Day of Languages is an opportunity for the public to discover that languages are fun – and it's never too late to learn. Multilingualism can open doors to job opportunities and new adventures. Erasmus+, the European Union's new programme for education, training, youth and sport, will enable four million people to study, train, teach or volunteer abroad – and improved language skills are one of the big benefits." ( for the full statement see here ).

The dedicated Day of Languages website is now available in 28 languages – with quite a few new features:

  • Language trivia : some well-known and some not so well-known characteristics of Europe’s languages ... http://edl.ecml.at/languagetrivia
  • Sign languages game : find out the European country names in International sign and then test yourself to see if you remember them! http://edl.ecml.at/SLcountrygame
  • European Day of Languages Photo contest 2014 The “Language learning in action” photo contest is now open for entries. The contest is intended to illustrate language learning in action in different environments. The competition is open to persons of all ages living in all Council of Europe member states and observer states. The European Centre for Modern Languages will use the best photos for promotional purposes with the top three winners receiving prizes. http://edl.ecml.at/edlphotocontest
  • Vote for this year’s most innovative event! Visitors to the website can vote for what they regard as the most innovative EDL event for 2014. This can be due to its creativity, transferability or just because it truly represents the spirit of the Day. There will a small prize for the organizer of the event which receives the most votes. Voting is simple - just click on the ‘thumbs up’ icon beside your chosen event. Voting is now open for one month from 20 September – 20 October. The winner will be announced in November.

Council of Europe and European Commission events in celebration of the Day:

  • Language Festival on the island in the River Mur
    This year the European Centre for Modern Languages is involved in organising a language festival on the island in the River Mur. All age groups are invited to the festival which offers a wide range of activities highlighting the linguistic and cultural diversity of the city of Graz. The event features a lively mix of international choirs and music groups, theatre pieces, dancing, language workshops, language taster sessions, games and quizzes, as well as a round table discussion. The event involved some 1500 participants last year and, weather permitting, we hope to even top that figure this time round.
  • European Commission’s “Why languages matter” conference
    The European Commission’s European Day of Languages conference "Why languages matter: European and national perspectives on multilingualism" takes place at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, on 25-26 September. The event is organised under the auspices of the Italian Presidency of the EU. It focuses in particular on policy initiatives, mobility, the European dimension of language competence development, innovation and technology in language teaching and employment in the language industry. The conference is followed by the European Federation of National Institutions for Language’s (EFNIL) annual conference on 27-28 September.
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