European Day of Languages

September 26th was the European Day of Languages, an event this country would never think to have.  But in Europe it’s an annual event which started in 2001.

According to The Writer’s Almanac, it s purpose is  “to celebrate human language, encourage language learning, and bring attention to the importance of being multilingual in a polyglot world. On this day, everyone, young or old, is encouraged to take up a language or take special pride in his or her existing language skills.

“There are about 225 indigenous languages in Europe, which may sound like a lot but is only 3 percent of the world’s total. Children’s events, television and radio programs, languages classes and conferences are organized across Europe. In past years, schoolchildren in Croatia created European flags and wrote “Hello” and “I love you” in dozens of tongues while older students sang “Brother John” in German, English, and French. At a German university, a diverse group of volunteer tutors held a 90-minute crash course in half a dozen languages, like a kind of native-tongue speed-dating, groups of participants spending just 15 minutes immersed in each dialect until the room was filled with Hungarian introductions, French Christmas songs, and discussions of Italian football scores.”

I do remember on one of the educational trips to Europe I chaperoned, we met some students our kids’ ages, but their main language interest was learning how to swear in English.  I guess it is a small world.

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The Writer’s Almanac is produced by Prairie Home Productions and presented by American Public Media.

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