Posted: 26 September 2017

Why Celebrate European Day of Languages?

European Day of Languages is celebrated every year on 26th September. However, as a Council of Europe initiative, is there any place for the celebration in a post-EU referendum Britain?

Yes, is the simple answer. Two years before the referendum, in 2014, the British Council had already identified a serious shortage in UK linguists, particularly in the ten languages identified as important for the UK’s future.

And as the UK withdraws from the EU, we’re going to rely more and more on linguists in terms of diplomatic and trade negotiations.

As Willy Brandt quite rightly pointed out:

This means that the young linguists sat in your classroom could be instrumental in securing the future of Britain – they could be the difference between the UK remaining a leader in global free trade and an important power on the international stage, or slipping into obscurity.

Getting them excited about foreign languages can sometimes be a struggle. You’ve probably lost count of the number of times you’ve had to explain to one reluctant linguist or another that learning German/French/Spanish etc. is an important and useful thing to do, even though 'everyone speaks English anyway' (which we all know isn't exactly true!).

European Day of Languages presents a great opportunity to dedicate one day of the year (handily at the beginning of the academic year) to getting students excited about languages. But how?

We’ve come up with a few ideas to get you started!

Your students may be surprised to learn that some of their favourite celebrities speak several languages!

We’ve designed this fun starter activity featuring some of our favourite celebrity polyglots – why not challenge your students to find more?

The UK may be getting ready to say ‘bye’ to the EU, but what better way to encourage your students to embrace language learning than by teaching them to say ‘hello’ to Europe?

We hope these help you and your students to have a memorable European Day of Languages!

If you’d like to further encourage your students’ passion for languages, why not arrange a school trip abroad, to give them the opportunity to immerse themselves in the target language?

As you know, the experience of using the language with native speakers is incredibly exciting and one they'll never forget!

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