On 26 September, we celebrated the European Day of Languages. The European Day of Languages was first established in 2001, by the European Commission and the Council of Europe, during the European Year of Languages. The general aim of the day, which has been celebrated by people all over Europe ever since, is to highlight Europe’s rich linguistic and cultural diversity, and encourage people of all ages to learn languages and enjoy the benefits of learning languages. In London, the European Commission Representation in the UK, had a whole week of events lined up, to celebrate languages, including talks, taster classes and a translation treasure hunt.
I attended the inaugural Language Masters event, hosted by John Murray Learning, at Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, where a panel of polyglots, including: Katie Harris (Founder of Joy of Languages), Alex Rawlings (Author and Winner of Britain’s Most Multilingual Student, 2012), Olly Richards (Language Educator and Author), Richard Simcott(Hyperpolyglot and Multilingual Ambassador) and Lindsay Williams (Founder of Lindsay does Languages) led an interesting discussion about their own language learning journeys and what they considered to be the best ways to learn a language. The event also marked the 20th anniversary of the BBC documentary about Michel Thomas, The Language Master, and Dr Rose Lee Hayden, an internationally recognised language expert and instructor who worked with Michel Thomas shared her experiences of language learning.
We all have our own unique reasons for wanting to learn a particular language. Perhaps a teacher, or a trip abroad inspired us, perhaps we were motivated by a job we wanted to do, or we simply enjoy connecting with different cultures, and exploring other languages. As a Chinese proverb says: ‘To learn a language is to have one more window from to which to look at the world,’ and I am sure many of us appreciate the joy of having had our horizons broadened and brightened by knowing another language and culture.
It is important to keep our passion for languages alive. As language educators, we also have the responsibility of being language ambassadors and igniting the interest of languages in others. Perhaps some of the children we teach have never stepped foot in another country before, let alone another city, or region in the UK, so we need to find ways of bringing the target language country and language to life, taking them on their own journey of discovery. Who knows where that might lead? That is why days such as European Day of Languages and Mother Language International Day, which takes place on 21 February every year, are important.
Perhaps you did something yourself to mark European Day of Languages at your school, or perhaps you celebrate the various languages spoken at your school, on a regular basis. Please feel free to share what you do to keep the language fire burning, on the blog.
Network for Languages London