Statement from Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, on the occasion of the European Day of Languages 2021

26 September 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the European Day of Languages. Since 2001, the Day has been celebrating the rich tapestry of languages coexisting in Europe and beyond. According to Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić “The European Day of Languages reminds us that all voices matter and that together we can overcome linguistic and cultural divides in our societies”.

Among this year’s happenings, the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe (ECML), which encourages excellence and innovation in language teaching, is taking part in a key event in Graz (Austria) on Friday 24 September.

A wide range of other initiatives are planned across the continent in this celebration of 20 years of linguistic and cultural diversity, among them: the Fête des langues européennes in Aix-en-Provence (France), the Foreign languages we can speak survey in Haabneeme (Estonia), the Språkdagkonferanse in Halden (Norway), an EDL Language festival in Ljubljana (Slovenia), Тhe beauty of words - Лепота речи language week in Lipe (Serbia), The gate of languages unlocked competition in Zlaté Moravce (Slovakia), Plurilingual Venice. Yesterday as today: open to the world in Venice (Italy), organised in cooperation with the Council of Europe Venice Office, and an online conference organised by the European Commission entitled Language competences in the European Education Area.

Background information on the Day

It is estimated that there are over 225 indigenous languages in Europe, without even including languages which have arrived on the continent through migration.

The specific aims of the EDL are to:

  • raise awareness of 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 Council of Europe and the European Commission work closely together on the co-ordination of the Day.

The dedicated website, which is available in 42 languages, provides details of the hundreds of events taking place in celebration of the Day, as well as a wide variety of resources and activities for everyone interested in languages and language learning. A new app, created specifically for the 2021 Day, encourages users to carry out a series of language challenges, quizzes and other interactive tasks thereby developing further competence and confidence in using different languages.

A new downloadable booklet A journey through Europe’s languages, encourages children to find out about the similarities, differences and unique features of Europe’s languages! Children can accompany Lara on her journey to discover the different languages spoken across the continent.