The 26th September marks the European Day of Languages, an awareness day jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the European Union in 2001. The main objectives of the day are to highlight the importance of language learning and diversifying the range of languages learnt to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding, to promote and preserve the linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe, and to encourage lifelong language learning in and out of school, whether for study purposes, professional needs to boost your CV, to use on your travels, or simply as a hobby.
Since the first European Day of Languages the awareness day has grown every year to include more countries and more participants. A range of events are organised across Europe, these include activities for and with children, television and radio programmes, language classes and conferences.
So what are the benefits of learning other languages? To begin, studies show that those who can speak a second or even a third language generally perform better in exams and fare better at IQ tests. Furthermore, trying your hand at learning another language helps to develop open-mindedness about other cultures. As people learn to interact comfortably with people from other countries self confidence can sky rocket. What’s more, globalisation means that people increasingly need foreign language skills to work effectively within their own countries, so an additional language is fast becoming an essential requirement on job specifications.
To get involved, you may want to learn a few handy phrases like ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in several European languages, or perhaps you’d like to focus on one European language in particular and try some out some fun games like Swedish scrabble or Hungarian hangman? Other foreign language activities could include watching a foreign film (subtitles optional!) – you can find a comprehensive list of the top 100 French films here – http://www.timeout.com/paris/en/film/100-best-french-films. And for the romantics out there, perhaps you could serenade a loved one with a Spanish song?
Remember, you are never too old to learn another language and to enjoy the opportunities this opens up!