26 September marks the European Day of Languages, aimed at celebrating the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe and at encouraging Europeans to learn languages to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding.
There have never been more opportunities to work and study in a different European country, but inadequate language skills prevent many people from taking advantage of them. Furthermore, people increasingly need foreign language skills to work effectively within their own countries.
Language skills are a necessity and a right for everyone. Learning other peoples’ languages helps us to understand each other better and to overcome our cultural differences. One is never too old to learn a language and to enjoy the opportunities it opens up.
On the occasion of the European Day of Languages, various events are being organised across Europe. Everyone can get involved by taking part in the activities organised, by setting up their own events or by simply inviting their neighbours from different cultures for tea.
The EU Perspective
The European Union (EU) has 23 official languages, about 60 regional and minority languages, and more than 175 migrant languages. The goal is to protect this diversity and to encourage more EU citizens to learn another European language.
The EU’s best-known language initiative is Erasmus, which enables more than 230,000 young people to study abroad every year. In total the EU spends around €1 billion annually on this and other programmes enabling EU citizens to follow vocational training abroad, volunteer or do youth work.
The new Erasmus for All programme, proposed by the European Commission, would almost double the number of places available between 2014 and 2020.
EU leaders would like to see all children being taught at least two languages in addition to their own mother tongue from a very early age.
Ten years ago, the European Language Label was created for particularly innovative language learning and teaching projects. This year, awards will be presented for the first time to exceptional projects examining ways to improve language learning and the role of languages in a globalised world.
26 September was declared the European Day of Languages by the Council of Europe, following the success of the European Year of Languages, jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the European Union in 2001. It has been celebrated every year since then.