The European Commission organised a debate about language teaching at the Expolangues fair in Paris, Thursday 15th January 2009. The teaching of languages is a fundamental issue whenever the linguistic situation in Europe is being discussed, and it is linked to a number of problem areas. Young people see foreign languages as difficult to learn and as school subjects that remain too abstract and not motivating enough. Europeans generally seem to under-estimate the value of acquiring linguistic skills. Language teachers are therefore faced with important challenges in their struggle to make the case for the importance of learning several languages. They need to find ingenious ways of competing with other teachers in order to introduce teaching methods that are adapted to the needs and expectations of young people, businesses and other employers. This was the central theme of the panel discussion between a group of experts chaired by Professor Michael Kelly, Head of Humanities at the University of Southampton, specialist in modern French culture and society and public linguistic policies. The other experts on the panel were Professor Folkert Kuiken, Chair of Dutch Linguistics at the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication, teacher and researcher on the effect of language policy, teaching methods and pedagogic/didactic techniques used in language teaching, Ms Catherine Clément, responsible for the foreign language department of CIEP (Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques) and Mr Manuel Célio Conceição, who has a PHD in linguistics at the University of Algarve, Portugal, specialising in lexicology and terminology. After a general introduction, the panel members made introductory statements with some personal reflections on the subject, which opened up into a question and answer session with the audience. A recurrent theme was that of the lack of interest and motivation among pupils for language learning. One of the solutions put forward by the panel was to link the teaching of foreign languages, especially in secondary schools, to other subjects, such as art, science, media and the Internet. The positive influence of sub-titling of films and television programmes was also emphasised. According to the members of the panel, the dubbing of films in foreign languages does not help language learning. Another problem is that male students sometimes feel alienated in a foreign language environment, where there is generally a predominantly female presence. Male role models involved in languages would help young men to relate better to language learning. The importance of language teaching at the primary level was also discussed, as it opens the minds of the very young to foreign languages at an age where problems of shyness and lack of self confidence are generally less pronounced. There is often a lack of coherence in the organisation of language teaching when the pupils pass from primary to secondary education. It is not unusual that they have to start all over again as beginners when they start their secondary education, even if they have studied a language for several years in primary school. However, not all factors are linked to the pupils. The teachers themselves have an important role to play. They need to keep themselves up to date with developments in education and language learning and to use more attractive methods, for example various multimedia tools. The issue of teacher mobility was also highlighted. The form and structure for teacher exchange programmes are not always clearly defined. In spite of the obvious advantages, difficulties remain with the implementation. Another recurring theme concerned the link between language learning and the linguistic needs of the labour market. The opportunities of European citizens to increase their cross-border mobility lead to new linguistic requirements and this needs to be better recognised by education institutes. The influx of Polish tourists to Portugal is hampered by the unwillingness of the Portuguese tourist trade to create facilities to provide for Polish speaking services. One possibility would be to involve companies more in the development of language courses at the universities. One of the main conclusions of the round table discussion was that language skills have become of vital importance for Europeans, not only for their everyday lives but also for their professional careers. This does not only concern English. The English language has become an international "communication code" for Europeans, but it is clearly necessary in today’s world for Europeans to acquire additional language skills.