Why a European Day of Languages?

There have never been more opportunities to work or study in a different European country - but lack of language competence prevents many people from taking advantage of them.

Globalisation and patterns of business ownership mean that citizens increasingly need foreign language skills to work effectively within their own countries. English alone is no longer enough.

Europe is rich in languages - there are over 200 European languages and many more spoken by citizens whose family origin is from other continents. This is an important resource to be recognised, used and cherished.

Language learning brings benefits to young and old - you are never too old to learn a language and to enjoy the opportunities it opens up. Even if you only know a few words of the language of the country that you visit (for example on holiday), this enables you to make new friends and contacts.

Learning other peoples' languages is a way of helping us to understand each other better and overcome our cultural differences.

Objectives

Language skills are a necessity and a right for EVERYONE – that is one of the main messages of the European Day of Languages.

The overall objectives are to raise awareness of:

  • Europe’s rich linguistic diversity, which must be preserved and enhanced;
  • the need to diversify the range of languages people learn (to include less widely used languages), which results in plurilingualism;
  • the need for people to develop some degree of proficiency in two languages or more to be able to play their full part in democratic citizenship in Europe.
… the Committee of Ministers decided to declare a European Day of Languages to be celebrated on 26th September each year. The Committee recommended that the Day be organised in a decentralised and flexible manner according to the wishes and resources of member states, which would thus enable them to better define their own approaches, and that the Council of Europe propose a common theme each year. The Committee of Ministers invites the European Union to join the Council of Europe in this initiative. It is to be hoped that the Day will be celebrated with the co-operation of all relevant partners.
Decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg (776th meeting – 6 December 2001)
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