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Parlez-vous European? - 25/09/2012

Blackboard showing Spanish and English words © iStockphoto

From ‘speak-dating’ in Prague to a rap contest in Aarhus – events are taking place around the continent to mark the 2012 European day of languages.

Budding linguists can also try their hand at foreign-language poetry in Cardiff, or learn the lingo at a world café in Sofia or a languages cocktail bar in Budapest. These are just a few of the events taking place around Europe on 26 September.

The EU has 23 official languages, approximately 60 regional and minority languages (such as Catalan and Welsh), and more than 175 migrant languages. The goal is to protect this diversity, and to encourage more of us to learn another European language – which makes it easier to live and work abroad and can help neighbouring communities to interact and get along.

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 would almost double the number of places available between 2014 and 2020. This proposal by the European Commission is currently being discussed by the Members of the European Parliament and ministers from the 27 EU countries.

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.

The European Day of Languages is organised jointly by the European Commission and the Council of Europe.

More on EU languages

Lessons from abroad: international review of primary languages (report)

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