At the initiative of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, the European Day of Languages is celebrated since 2001 on 26 September.
Throughout Europe, 800 million Europeans represented in the Council of Europe’s 47 member states are encouraged to learn more languages, at any age, in and out of school. Being convinced that linguistic diversity is a tool for achieving greater intercultural understanding and a key element in the rich cultural heritage of our continent, the Council of Europe promotes plurilingualism in the whole of Europe.
On the occasion of the day, a range of events are organised across Europe: activities for and with children, television and radio programmes, language classes and conferences. National authorities and the various partners are given a free hand to organise activities. To coordinate the activities organised at national level, the Council of Europe asks participating countries to nominate “National Relay Persons” for the day.
The general objectives of the European Day of Languages are to:
– alert the public to the importance of language learning and diversify the range of languages learned in order to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding;
– promote the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe;
– encourage lifelong language learning in and out of school.
In keeping with these aims, people, young and old, are encouraged to take up a language, or take special pride in their existing language skills. Also, those responsible for providing access to language learning are encouraged to make it easier for people to learn a range of languages, and to support policy initiatives to promote languages. There is also emphasis on learning a language other than English.
On the occasion of the day, a range of events are organised across Europe, including happenings for children, television and radio programmes, language classes and conferences. The events are not organised by the Council of Europe or the European Union nor do they allocate special funding (i.e. apart from their existing language programmes) for the day. Member states and potential partners are given a free hand to organise activities. To coordinate the activities organised at national level, the Council of Europe asks participating countries to nominate “National Relay Persons” for the day. The national relay in the UK is CILT, the National Centre for Languages. CILT’s website provides a whole host of ideas for activities in schools, colleges, workplaces and communities, with many downloadable materials as well as stickers and posters which can be ordered free of charge.