Today is the European day of Languages!
European day of Languages is organised by the Council of Europe and the European Union, involving millions of people across 45 countries. European day of Languages shows the importance of language learning and promotes the diverse cultures and languages of Europe. It also encourages lifelong language learning, for all ages.
Did you know, for example there are between 6000 and 7000 languages spoken around the world? Around 225 of those languages are spoken in Europe. Most of the world’s languages are spoken in Asia and Africa.
At least 50% of the population are either bilingual or plurilingual, showing that many people speak various languages as part of their daily routine. Many children across the continent start learning a language from a young age. Companies are always looking for bilingual candidates to help them expand their business.
Languages are related to each other: English has borrowed words and expressions from many languages in the past, as well and many European languages borrowing English phrases. Most European languages belong to one of these 3 groups: Germanic, Romance and Slavic.
English belongs to Germanic (which, surprisingly enough, you would also find German!). Romance languages consist of French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, to name a few. Slavic languages consist of Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, Slovak…
In most schools, you’d be taught a language from the Romance group, and potentially German as well. At my school in Wales, the 3 available languages were Welsh (Obviously!), French and German. Italian and Spanish are frequently taught schools across the country. But what about more of the Germanic family, such as Danish or Swedish? Slavic is rarely taught in schools as well.
This is why the European day of languages is there! Sometimes we don’t realise how many languages there actually are in Europe. We are taught about just a small proportion in school! London is a perfect example of languages – Walk around in Central London for 30 minutes and you would hear a whole host of languages being spoken. Many of which would be European. It is estimated that over 300 languages are spoken in London! In fact, London has been regarded as the 6th largest French city, as more French live in London than in Bordeaux, Nantes or Strasbourg.
Today is a day to celebrate our diversity, but let’s not forget about the languages of Britain!
For those who travel into Wales, you’d be met with bilingual signs wherever you go. The Welsh language has equal status with English. Down in Cornwall – you might not see a whole lot of it, but they too have their own Celtic language called Cornish. Scotland has Scots and Scottish Gaelic as minority languages – not as many signs are bilingual in Scotland. In Northern Ireland, Irish and English are referred to as official languages.
So today, why don’t you start learning a language and have some multilingual fun!