The Juvenes Translatores winners will receive their awards at a ceremony in Brussels on 8 April 2014

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation (DG Translation) is organising a contest for schools in the European Union that has been going on since 2007.

If Europeans are to be “united in diversity“, as the EU’s own motto puts it, we need to be able to understand languages other than our own.

In the long run, learning languages will bring us closer and help us understand each other’s cultures. And it will make it easier for you – the adults of tomorrow – to study and work around Europe.

Studies show the ever growing need for translation and translators in Europe. Student should better be ready for this! Juvenes Translatores raises awareness about how translation skills are important and how the use of translation as a “mediation” between languages should be  reassessed in language learning.

The contest has proved hugely popular – 99% of schools that took part in previous contests would like to do so again.

Find out who the winners are and read more about the contest

Have you seen our European Recommendations? Call to action!


The Language Rich Europe (LRE) consortium called on European institutions and member state governments to initiate new policies to support immigrant language teaching, revise trilingual learning, and use the particular position of English to promote and support multi/plurilingualism. This would help to develop a truly multilingual Europe and in turn ensure economic competitiveness while building more inclusive societies.

European Recommendations were presented in Brussels this week at the EESC during the LRE final conference. There was an institutional response from the European Commission, European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

Key findings & recommendations:

  • English is now the most widely-chosen second language in Europe’s schools, especially in higher education studies. A new model for developing and preserving other languages is needed to promote diversity among languages used and spoken by Europeans.
  • The European Commission’s trilingual formula of ‘mother tongue plus two’ should be updated and further developed. For many citizens ‘mother tongue’ is no longer the same as the national language. The particular position of English also means that in practice most citizens will learn English plus one, so it is rarely any ‘two’. A useful development of the formula could include the clear articulation of a linguistic profile.
  • The particular position of English in Europe should be explicitly acknowledged, in order to propose a new model for the co-existence of languages in Europe. This would have implications for policy formulations and would encourage more research and development work on the ways in which the position of English could be used to promote and support multi/plurilingualism rather than to undermine it. This would also mean that European funding streams, for example, the successor to the Lifelong Learning Programme, would prioritise support for languages other than English.
  • Immigrant languages have significantly changed the linguistic landscape in Europe. To develop more inclusive societies, immigrant languages should be explicitly recognised at European level. Funds should be allocated at the national and European levels to support language teaching from pre-primary to university education that reflects the diversity of student populations.
  • Existing barriers to the employment of teachers from other member states should be removed. Teachers should be enabled and encouraged to do training abroad to improve the level of achievement in language learning. For example, “Erasmus for teachers” should be established.
  • When creating audio-visual materials, subtitling – not dubbing – should be the default option for organisations on the European level. The comparative data demonstrate a strong positive correlation between subtitling and language competency.
  • We should reassess the ways in which multilingualism increases trade and profitability. Research is needed into how successful companies actually engage in successful business exchanges across languages and cultures from an economic and sociological perspective rather than with a solely linguistic bias to produce case studies and practical guidance.

Lid King, director of the Languages Company, said whilst presenting our Recommendations: “English is perceived as the language people should learn and are learning. That used to be the elephant in the room. Now we can see that elephant.” He said policymakers needed to recognise the “particular position” of English but that “more work needs to be done on how English can be used to support multilingualism.” He called on a strategy of subtitling as opposed to dubbing films, televisions programmes and conferences.

Faced with growing divisions amongst member states during the crisis, the EU needed to go in a positive direction towards celebrating diversity rather than being defensive and falling into ‘linguistic protectionism’, King said. He added that multilingualism could “calm tensions”, both amongst Europeans from different member states and non-EU immigrants.

You can read Androulla Vassilliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, full response to the Recommendations .DSC_0083.

Learning languages a way out of crisis, says Vassiliou

Androulla Vassiliou posing in front of the poster of the "Language Rich Europe" networking project

Androulla Vassiliou posing in front of the poster of the “Language Rich Europe” networking project

Our Language Rich Europe Closing Conference took place earlier this week in Brussels on 5 March and called to action for European governments to improve language policies to ensure economic competitiveness and build more inclusive societies. European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, addressed the Conference:

“If we want more mobile students and workers, and businesses that can operate on a European and world scale, we need better language competences – and these must be better targeted to the current and future needs of the labour market,” she said.

The latest European Commission figures show that in 2011 just 42% of European 15-year-olds were competent in their first foreign language, despite often having learned it from seven years of age. Furthermore, the figure differed hugely across different EU countries, with 82% for Sweden and just 9% for Britain.

The commissioner added that fostering languages was about more than employment for professional linguists, translators and interpreters.

“Our society will always need language specialists – professional linguists translating or interpreting, such as those people in the booths covering our proceedings today,” she said. “But languages, like politics, are too important to our lives to be left to specialists only.”

Read the full summary here.

English as the language of Europe?

In this guest post, Christiane Keilig from the British Council in Berlin shares her views on why just English isn’t enough.

Last Friday the German president, Joachim Gauck, proposed to make English the language of the EU.  I was surprised to hear it  – why did he say that? Just to appease the British and make sure they stay aboard the EU? Or to allay fears that Germany is becoming too powerful? It’s probably a bit of both. But, thinking about it, it does seem to make sense, because:

  • English is comparatively easy to learn (I had to learn Latin and Greek  as first foreign languages and I rejoiced in English)
  • It is already an established business language and dominates in certain areas, for instance IT and banking
  • It is the language spoken by big economies

Okay, but.

There are also other huge economies out there and I would argue that if you want to sell a product or a service to a foreign market, you need to speak their language and not just English.

Because a market, or rather, countries, are also about culture and I believe that you cannot truly understand a culture without speaking the language – language itself reveals a lot about a country’s mindset.

Also, business is not all. Especially in Europe and in times of crisis, it is important that we understand each other – we cannot afford to threaten a construct which, although fraught with bureaucracy, is also there to maintain peace. Personally, I sometimes think that aspect is sadly underrated.

Moreover, in times of globalisation and mobility, with families living and working far away from their home country, it’s also important their children can learn their mother tongue – it is a vital part of their identity and culture.  So it’s not just about learning the language of the country they’re now living in and then ‘just’ English.

Just to pick up on one of the areas of the project’s research: Education. The Language Rich Europe research clearly shows a tendency for English as the most widely chosen language to be learned at school – which could be seen to be endangering the diversity of languages.  It is important that especially at school other languages are taught with the same importance attached to them .

For instance, the school my son goes to offers English, French and Latin and you can choose the order in which you learn the languages. I convinced him to learn Latin first, as that gives him a good basis for grammar and all romanic languages. It would be a shame if opportunities like that would disappear.

At the conference on 5  March, Language Rich Europe’s experts will present recommendations for more language diversity in the areas of Education, Audiovisual Media and Press, Public services and Spaces, and Business. They will present the outcomes of the project’s research and will surely provide food for thought and discussions.

Why not join the debate? Do you think English should be the language of Europe?  Comment here or tweet @LanguageRich  to  let us know what you think!

Did you know…


Did you know…

that five projects which have shown outstanding performance in promoting the teaching and learning of languages were honoured at the first ‘European Language Label of the Labels Awards‘. The winning initiatives are based in Belgium, Italy, Lithuania, Norway and Romania. The awards were presented to representatives of the projects by Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, at the ‘Multilingualism in Europe’ conference in Limassol, Cyprus.

Each of the 31 nominated projects received a commemorative plate and are featured in a special booklet ‘European Language Label – Empowering People’ published to celebrate the awards. You can download the booklet.

Language Rich Europe launch – Wales

At a time of globalisation, troubled economies and increasing migration, knowledge of foreign languages is critical to building social bridges, improving job prospects and enhancing competitiveness in Europe.

How well is Wales responding to these challenges?


The Welsh launch of Language Rich Europe will take place on Tuesday 9 October at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff. 

The programme is as follows:

Welcome and introduction from Simon Dancey, Director British Council Wales

Address by the Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler AM

The Importance of Multilingualism, overview from Professor Colin Williams, Cardiff University

Language Rich Europe Cross National Findings – Aneta Quraishy, Senior Project Manager, British Council

Language Rich Europe Wales and UK results – Dr Lid King, Director The Languages Company

Panel discussion – Aled Eirug (British Council Wales Advisory Committee Chair), Professor Colin Williams (Cardiff University), Professor Stephen Hagen (Newport University), and Dr Lid King (Languages Company)

Events: Supporting multilingualism through language assessment

The European Parliament together with ALTE and University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations invites you to a series of events on Supporting multilingualism through language assessment.

You can find out more about it, including how to attend, on the European Commission’s website.