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The 15th Anniversary of the European Day of Languages, 26 September 2016 – giving voice to Europe’s languages

The European Day of Languages, celebrated every year on the 26 September, is a festival of linguistic diversity, a day to encourage language learning for young and old; a day to come together and marvel at the beauty of all of Europe’s languages. 

Against the current backdrop of rising populism, xenophobia and intolerance where language is used to exclude and divide, this year’s European Day of Languages on September 26 gives us a much-needed opportunity to highlight all that is positive and enriching in today’s increasingly multilingual and culturally diverse Europe. 

Fifteen years after its inception, the Day continues to represent a force for unity as it reaches out a welcoming hand to new cultures and languages. It is one of many examples of the Council’s pioneering work to promote linguistic diversity, tolerance and respect.  Other successful current initiatives include; the development of a Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture; the No Hate Speech Movement campaign as well as the Action Plans on the fight against violent extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism and on Building Inclusive Societies.  Such initiatives are strengthened through the Council’s cooperation with the European Commission, as exemplified through the joint action of the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) and the European Commission, notably in the area of multilingual classrooms. 

So let us use our celebrations on and around 26 September 2016 to send a clear message throughout Europe and beyond: linguistic diversity is an important resource to be used and cherished, not just today, but every day. We must support the children fleeing from war and terror. We must recognise and value all of the languages they bring to our schools. We must continue to strive for unity in diversity, harnessing the positive power of linguistic diversity to enrich our democracies and create safer, more cohesive and inclusive societies. 

Background information on the Day

The European Day of Languages (EDL) is a day to encourage language learning across Europe.
At the initiative of the Council of Europe, the European Day of Languages has been celebrated every year, on 26 September, since the European Year of Languages in 2001.
The specific aims of the Day are to:

  • alert the public to the importance of language learning in order to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding;
  • promote the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe; 
  • encourage lifelong language learning in and out of school.

The dedicated website for the Day is available in 35 languages and hundreds activities are registered in the events’ calendar of the site. The EDL activities which take place in Europe and increasingly on other continents are organised mainly by schools, universities, language and cultural institutes, associations and also by the European Commission’s translation field offices.

In 2015 over 900 events were recorded in the events’ calendar.