Belfast set for a taste of Europe
Local schools and colleges will mark European Day of Languages this week with special events across Northern Ireland to celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity. European Day of Languages is officially celebrated on 26 September in 47 countries across Europe to raise awareness of the value of languages and to promote language learning. On Friday 25 September, pupils from Belfast High School willcelebrate European Day of Languages with a special assembly which will showcase their linguistic skills. European Day of Languages is also perfect timing to launch the annual Opportunity Europe Fair and Exhibition, which will take place on 20-21 October in St. George's Market, Belfast. Promoted by Belfast City Council and the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland, Opportunity Europe attracts thousands of schoolchildren each year. The event highlights the importance of Northern Ireland's European links and provides young people with information on working, studying, volunteering and travelling in Europe. Maurice Maxwell, Head of the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland, said: "European Day of Languages is a key opportunity for Northern Ireland to promote linguistic and cultural diversity. Together with Opportunity Europe, it highlights the importance of language skills in business, employment, travel and building links with our European neighbours". Councillor David Rodway from Belfast City Council's Development Committee said: “We as a Council recognise the importance of taking our place in Europe and equipping citizens with the right skills to avail of the opportunities that exist in Europe. The Opportunity Europe programme allows us to do this in fun, interesting and interactive ways. We look forward to hosting the schools next month in St. George’s for what will be an exciting day out.” Dr Eugene McKendry, Director of the QUB-based Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (NICILT), local co-ordinators of the European Day of Languages, said: "The European Day of Languages has become a focus for local schools and language interests to highlight the importance and enjoyment of language learning and wider cultural awareness. NICILT is grateful to the European Commission Office and Belfast City Council for their support in encouraging awareness among the general public through Opportunity Europe." Opportunity Europe is organised by the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council and supported by Northern Ireland CiLT, the British Council, the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, the NI Council of the European Movement, the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure, the Volunteer Development Agency and Bryson Group. The Opportunity Europe programme of events is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/northernireland or www.belfastcity.gov.uk/europe.