The Council of Europe has designated September 26 as European Day of Languages, and this year marks the 11th time that educators and policymakers across the continent have marked the occasion. There is an eye-popping array of activities and events organized by school groups, language institutes, and community organizations. There are competitions and tournaments, community fairs, language panels, book launches…all sorts of exciting and creative ways of celebrating languages in Europe.
The central website for the day itself is rich and informative and entertaining; you really should take a look! There are facts and trivia and way too many fun language-themed games. Plus you can self-assess your language skills using the European framework or take a quiz to test your knowledge of the languages of Europe. I especially love that the website takes into account ALL of the languages currently spoken on the continent, not just the big Indo-European ones we all probably studied in high school (French-German-Spanish); immigrant languages like Arabic and Urdu and smaller indigenous languages like Basque and Irish are also represented.
The Council of Europe identified three goals for this Day:
- Alerting the public to the importance of language learning and diversifying the range of languages learnt in order to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding;
- Promoting the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe, which must be preserved and fostered;
- Encouraging lifelong language learning in and out of school, whether for study purposes, for professional needs, for purposes of mobility or for pleasure and exchanges.
Plurilingualism, linguistic diversity, and lifelong language learning. Now those are great reasons to throw a party!
P.S. I am so inspired by the enthusiasm and mass participation that this day gets. I think we need one of these for every continent. It’s high time we celebrate North American Languages Day! Who’s with me?