European Day of Languages celebrated around the world

27/09/2013 | Hayley

Yesterday (September 26th) marked the European Day of Languages – a Council of Europe initiative created to celebrate the languages spoken across the continent’s 47 member states.

The event encourages people of all ages to embrace their mother tongue and learn new languages too. Through this, they can form deeper relationships and gain an understanding of and insight into the variety of cultures throughout the member states.

All across the world, European Day of Languages was marked in myriad different ways. In the United Arab Emirates, language school International House Dubai ran a charity book sale, offered free placement exams and invited guests to come and attend a demonstration of its classes.

Over in Turkey, the country’s largest city Istanbul was also honouring the day. Twelve of the city’s cultural institutes, including those of Germany, France and Italy, came together to celebrate the event and revealed they would host a series of activities at the Sismanoglio Megaro this Saturday (September 28th). Visitors will be able to get involved in games, taster courses in different languages and watch different styles of dance, all under the banner of: “You are never too old to learn a language and to enjoy the opportunities it opens up.”

Meanwhile, on the Channel Islands it was a much older language than many of those spoken in Europe that was the focus of celebrations. Channel Online TV reports that a book of children’s stories entitled Toute la Peque was distributed among schools in Jersey. The stories are written in English and also Jèrriais, the Norman language traditionally spoken on the island. The language is similar to both Guernésiais and Sercquiais, spoken on the nearby islands of Guernsey and Sark respectively. It is hoped the books will help to preserve the ancient language, while also encouraging children in Jersey to learn more about it. The stories also have a Jersey theme, and are each centred on some of the island’s most famous sites, like Mount Orgueil and La Corbiere Lighthouse.

England also hosted plenty of events to mark European Day of Languages. According to the Guardian, former footballer Gary Lineker was one of the famous faces to get behind the initiative. The Match Of The Day presenter visited London’s Haverstock School to participate in a roundtable discussion about the importance of language learning.

“As someone who speaks a lot of languages from way back when, I’ve always been someone who’s backed campaigns to get kids to learn languages,” Lineker said. He added that being able to speak another language was “hugely advantageous”, but that he did not believe schools in the UK offered a great enough choice of languages.

Haverstock was one of 11 schools to receive special free language courses provided by Rosetta Stone after winning a nationwide competition. Drawing on the company’s resources, students will be able to study languages using programmes on computers, tablets and smartphones. Hana Flynn, head of languages at the school, explained that the perception was that it was “difficult to learn a language”, but that technology is helping to overcome this challenge.

The European Commission is now inviting people to vote for the most innovative event that took place on European Day of Languages. Voting is open until October 20th, and the organisers are looking for anything that was particularly creative, informative or that simply embodied the spirit of the occasion. Last year’s winner was Turkey’s Bahçeşehir Koleji Diyarbakır Anaokulu Kampüsü school, for its project Around the World in 248 Days.

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