Language focus | 25.09.2010

European Day of Languages

The European Commission and the Council of Europe have designated September 26 as the European Day of Languages (EDL). The Translation People take a look at the origins of this exciting linguistic event, and cast an eye over the activities on offer.

EDL’s objectives are to raise the profile of language learning, promote the use of languages in business and education and highlight the role that languages play in social inclusion and mobility. It was unveiled at the 2001 European Year of Languages and its popularity has grown so much over the years that it now involves millions of people and 45 different countries. Stakeholders include policy-makers, the general public and voluntary sector organisations who deal with language policies and awareness-raising campaigns.

So, what is on offer for EDL 2010. Apart from the multilingual leaflets and audio files about the day itself, activities include a conference entitled ‘Languages for jobs’; a round-table discussion dealing with ‘how multilingualism can help business’; and the ‘my favourite foreign language story’ competition in which participants submit stories about the importance of languages both in a personal and a professional capacity. National events across Europe provide access to languages for schoolchildren and professionals alike.

The European Multilingualism website offers further details about the EDL event that include radio broadcasts in Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania; an online language competition for school children in the Czech Republic; a rap show and multilingual poetry competition in five languages (Danish, French, German, Italian and Spanish) in Denmark; a language fair in Estonia; a ‘multilingual story-telling event’ and ‘language café’ in Finland and in Germany, budding translators can attend the ‘Languages and Countries of Europe Event (27 September 2010) for professional advice about becoming a translator and presentations on the translation industry.

For bloggers, there is the Day of Multilingual Blogging, that promises blogs posted in Arabic, French, Spanish, Tagalog and Ukrainian. This virtual event takes place on 26 September 2010 and its Facebook page states that there are already over 150 participants.

In the UK, EDL activities include a multilingual spelling competition organized by Routes Into Languages and the European Commission. Aimed at school children, participants translate a word from English or Welsh into French, German or Spanish – but must use the foreign language alphabet to spell the target word! And for university students, the University of Cardiff has arranged a ‘Poetry in Translation’ competition that will take place on 5 October 2010.

The European Day of Languages encompasses all sectors, and participants from across the entire language spectrum are welcome – school children, businesses, professional linguists and policy makers. With a host of exciting events, it not only promotes linguistic diversity and cultural understanding, but also provides an invaluable resource for professionals both within the language sector and those who are interested in pursuing a career using their language skills.

Sources: European Commission Directorate-General for Education and Culture; Piccolingo; European Commission Multilingualism; Europa EU Calendar; Council of Europe; European Day of Languages; CILT; Facebook (Day of Multilingual Blogging)

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