Throughout Europe, 800 million Europeans are represented in the Council of Europe’s 47 member states and they are all encouraged to discover more languages. The Council of Europe believes that linguistic diversity is a tool for achieving greater intercultural understanding and a key element in the rich cultural heritage of the European continent. Therefore, the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, aims to promote multilingualism throughout Europe.
One of the Council’s initiatives is the European Day of Languages which has been celebrated every year since 2001 on the 26th of September.
What is the European Day of Languages?
The European Year of Languages in 2001 was jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the European Union. It was a highly successful event which involved millions of people across 45 participating countries. The European Year of Languages included many activities which all celebrated linguistic diversity in Europe and promoted language learning.
As the European Year of Languages was such a success, the Council of Europe declared a European Day of Languages to be celebrated on 26th of September each year. The general objectives of the European Day of Languages are:
Alerting the public to the importance of language learning and diversifying the range of languages learnt in order to increase multilingualism 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.
The Council of Europe hopes this Day is celebrated both by authorities in its member states and potential partners at the following levels:
among policy-makers (specific measures or discussions on language policy issues)
among the general public (awareness-raising on the overall objectives of the Day, including the importance of lifelong language learning, starting at any age, in educational establishments, at work, etc)
in the voluntary sector (specific actions by and/or for NGOs, associations, companies, etc)
Who can celebrate the European Day of Languages?
Everyone can get involved in the European Day of Languages in some way! Whether as an individual or in a group, within an organisation or just among friends, people of all ages can get involved. To celebrate EDL you could start to learn a new language. There are plenty of online resources that can be helpful with languages learning such as YouTube videos and Apps. You could also choose to learn more about European culture and traditions to increase your cultural awareness and there are lots of online games and quizzes which will give you a taste of the different cultures throughout Europe.