Celebrating Multilingualism


Today’s post comes to us from EUNIC Global:

This Thursday September 26 we will have the opportunity to celebrate the importance of language learning  during The European Day of Languages

But what is it all about?

Multilingualism is an essential tool that allows people to achieve their full potential in both their professional and private lives. Learning a new language is also an experience of sharing other people´s culture and points of view. EUNIC and its members recognize the value of multilingualism and act concretely on local level throughout the year.

On occasion of The European Day of Languages, a range of events are organized by EUNIC clusters around the world, see a few picks below:

 AMMAN Five European Cultural Centres in Jordan invite their public to listen to European music, taste European food, and watch clips of European events and music, while trying to guess which of the five cluster countries they originate from. On this journey the visitors will have a mock-passport stamped as they take part. The European Day of Languages will close with a multilingual concert.

BUCHAREST The European Day of Languages events in Romania will take place in the garden of Bucharest’s most popular bookshop, Cărturești. All the activities such as games, competitions and quizzes are connected with the topic of travelling. During the open language lessons the students will acquire the “travel kits” – sets of vocabulary useful during the travel to a country of choice.

BUDAPEST Linguistic and cultural diversity, creativity and games, fun and interesting language teaching and learning, European cooperation – these are the main ingredients of the European Languages Cocktail Bar organized by EUNIC Hungary for celebrating the The European Day of Languages.  And the whole event will take place on a boat.

BELGRADE  EUNIC Cluster Belgrade in Serbia, in partnership with the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade and in collaboration with the Council of Europe and the Delegation of the European Union, organizes a conference dedicated to multilingualism and the importance of learning languages This year the programme includes didactical workshops for foreign language teachers and a special focus on idiomatic expressions.

BRUSSELS  The TRANSPOESIE poetry festival officially starts on The European Day of Languages. No fewer than twenty-five countries have joined in to offer the population of Brussels a series of poems in their original language (23 languages in total) and in their French and Dutch translations. The poems will be displayed on the public transport in the capital of Europe.

MADRID Twenty cultural institutes based in Madrid will open their doors once again with over 40 activities, including: plays, food tasting, cinema workshops for kids, guided tours, language classes, storytelling…and the list goes on! All of the activities organised for The European Day of Languages celebrations are free and open to the public.

TORONTO The Spanish Centre of Toronto will welcome kids and grownups with music, live performance and more. Children from Toronto schools will participate in ‘composing’ a song in various European languages, together with Mark Ford, singer and songwriter. They will also be participating in a Rhythm, Dance & Music workshop by Dalilyn Martinez.  While the adult audience will be offered  sample classes in European languages.

LRE wishes you a very happy European Day of Languages

Council of EuropeThis Language Rich Europe activity is once again springing up across Europe as we celebrate the European Day of Languages.

In Germany

In Estonia

A big European day of languages Fair is taking place in Narva where the Estonia LRE launch is also being held. All cultural institutes, as well as several embassies are taking part. There will be stands by these institutions promoting the respective country and languages, sample language lessons, presentations for teachers and a day long programme on the stage. The LRE launch is taking place at the end of the Fair as a special culmination of the day. It is planned for two hours, followed by discussions. The Polish and Austrian Ambassadors are present, all Cultural Institutes, Narva City Mayor. The event is being hosted by the Rector of the Narva college MS Katri Raik, who was actively involved in the research phase of the project.

In the Czech Republic

LRE was presented at a conference dedicated to multilingualism {how to teach  2nd and 3rd language in schools} – at the Ministry of Education in Prague.

In Hungary

The European Cocktails Bar included an LRE roundtable discussion on the topic of translation in popular culture with a blogger on mistranslation, a very talented translator for feature films, a literary translator of Scandinavian literature and a university lecturer.

In France

The LRE launch yesterday generated a lot of interesting discussion as part of the Week of foreign cultures in Paris, organised by FICEP, foreign cultural insitutes in Paris, and EUNIC. Prominent speakers included Heinz Wismann, author of Penser entre les Langues.

Language Rich Europe launches – France, Bulgaria and Estonia

After a summer break, Language Rich Europe is back on the road as we launch the results of our research in France, Bulgaria and Estonia. It is a busy time as we will also be celebrating the European Day of Languages on Wednesday – more about that later in the week. In this blog post, you can find information about the LRE launches taking place over the next few days.

France – 25 septembre 2012 – British Council Paris

Le multilinguisme est-il une richesse pour la société ou mène-t-il à la cacophonie?

Introduction – Chris Hickey, Directeur British Council France
Présentation du projet « Language Rich Europe » et des résultats de
l’enquête – Martin Hope, Directeur Language Rich Europe, Aneta Quraishy, responsable européenne Language Rich Europe et Christian Tremblay, Président de l’Observatoire européen du plurilinguisme
En quoi le plurilinguisme est-il une richesse sur le plan personnel?: entretien entre Heinz Wismann, philologue et philosophe et Quentin Dickinson, Directeur des affaires européennes, Radio France
Table ronde: Pourquoi gérer les questions de langue en entreprise?
Intervenants: Bernard Salengro, Secrétaire national CF-CGC, Jean-Loup Cuisiniez, CFDT Axa, Claude Truchot, sociolinguiste, Professeur émérite à l’Université de Strasbourg et Kenza Cherkaoui-Messin, sociolinguiste.

Bulgaria – 26 September 2012, Hotel Sheraton, Sofia

Welcome: Peter Ashton, Director English Language Services, British Council Bulgaria
Introduction: Anne Wiseman, British Council
Overview of Language Rich Europe project: Eilidh MacDonald, Project Co-ordinator, Language Rich Europe
Cross National Findings: Mario Filipe, Instituto Camoes, Portugal
The Bulgarian Profile: Galina Russeva-Sokolova, Sofia University

In the afternoon, there will be a seminar on the topic ‘Multilingualism and the Bulgarian Education System.’

Estonia – 26 September 2012

Hosted by the Rector of Narva College, MS Katri Raik, the results of the Language Rich Europe research will be presented by Vilma Backiute, Project Manager, British Council Lithuania, and Ursula Roosmaa, Country Director, British Council Estonia. This will be followed by a reception in the Old City Hall.

For more information on our research and upcoming events, please visit our website and follow this blog.

Languages Speak Up competition winners announced

To celebrate the European Day of Languages on 26 September 2011, Language Rich Europe and Poliglotti4.eu launched a competition to find Language Ambassadors who are willing to lend their voice to the cause of language learning by creating a short video of their linguistic journey. The future ambassadors came up with creative videos in which they used all the languages they speak and explained how their language skills had improved their life.

The jury was faced with a difficult decision to pick three winners out of many great entries. All the winning videos had the following in common: An original idea of the setting and plot, a huge amount of imagination and creativity, and the clarity of the benefits of being multilingual. So without further ado, here are the winners:

The 1st prize goes to Khafi Kareem from England, who is fluent in French, Italian, English, Yoruba and British Sign Language. 

The Runners Up prizes go to Deividas Jakavicius from Lithuania, who fluently raps in Lithuanian, English and Russian…

…and Sophie Reece-Trapp from England, impressing the jury with her French, English, German and Dutch language skills. 

The selected videos will feature as an important part of the websites of our major twin projects: Language Rich Europe and Poliglotti4.eu. The winners will also carry on work as language ambassadors to the projects and will write their own blog posts in the future. The winner was awarded a new iPad2 and the two runners-up won a Sony Bloggie camera. Please find the winning entries as well as the other participating videos on our project website.

We would like to thank all the participants for their submissions, their enthusiasm and their creativity.

We are really looking forward to working with our new language ambassadors who will without doubt encourage and motivate others to learn languages!

Europos kalbų lobynas: „Cherchez des sociétés d’affaires“

Today we have a guest post by Vilma Bačkiūtė, British Council Lithuania, who blogs about the recent Language Ambassador Awards which took place in Vilnius.

Lietuvoje „Europos kalbų lobynas” kartu su partneriais šiais metais 2011 Metų kalbų ambasadoriumi išrinko tarptautinę rinkos tyrimų bendrovę „WorldOne“.

2011 Metų kalbų ambasadoriaus rinkimus organizavo Švietimo mainų paramos fondas, įgyvendindamas Europos kalbų ženklo programą, kartu su Britų taryba, įgyvendinančia projektą „Europos kalbų lobynas”. Į titulą pretenduoti buvo kviečiamos įmonės ar organizacijos, vykdančios patrauklią ir novatorišką kalbų vartojimo bei mokymosi skatinimo politiką.

26 įmonės užpildė anketą ir rugsėjo 23 d. buvo pakviestos į Europos kalbų dienai skirtą šventę – metų Kalbų ambasadoriaus apdovanojimus, kur buvo apdovanoti šeši nominantai ir paskelbtas 2011 Metų kalbų ambasadorius.

Šventė pavyko, nes organizatoriai sulaukė daug padėkų iš apdovanojimų šventę  stebėti pakviestų dalyvių, kurie turėjo galimybę išgirsti „Pricewaterhouse Coopers International Limited“ Lietuvos biuro vadovo, Britanijos prekybos rūmų Lietuvoje valdybos pirmininko Christopher C. Butler bei žurnalisto, rašytojo Andriaus Užkalnio pranešimus. Renginį papuošė įvairiomis kalbomis dainuojanti, galybę tarptautinių apdovanojimų laimėjusi merginų grupė Kivi ir populiarus televizijos laidų vedėjas ir aktorius Algis Ramanauskas.

A.Užkalnis akcentavo, kad daugiakalbystė yra vakcina nuo provincialumo ir palinkėjo, kad po 10 metų lietuviai Europoje garsėtų kaip daugiausiai kalbų mokantys žmonės.

„Europos kalbų lobynas” taip pat buvo pristatytas ir Znad Wilii radijo klausytojams. Radijas kalbino Britų Tarybą Kalbų dienos proga. Pokalbio įrašo paklausyti galite čia.

The Power of Babel – the European Day of Languages in Bulgaria

Council of EuropeTvetanka Panova, Partnership Project Manager for the British Council in Bulgaria, reflects on the European Day of Languages 2011 in Sofia and the love of languages that it revealed.

Deutsch, English, Español, Italiano, Polski, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Русский, Magyar, Français, česky, Ελληνικά…  there was a constant buzz of voices speaking different languages on the square on Sunday 2 October, and yet nobody was lost in translation. Symbolically located in front of Bulgaria’s National Theatre named after the great writer and poet Ivan Vazov, the celebration of the European Day of Languages 2011 was even grander and more successful than the previous year. The event was once again organised by EUNIC – the network of European Union National Institutes for Culture – and this time brought together 16 institutions representing 11 languages amidst TV cameras and radio microphones, government officials, specially invited visitors and passers-by.

So there we all were on the sunny morning of 2 October – the tents were busy with people even before the official opening. Thousands of materials were gone and had to be restocked constantly. Young children and adults were speaking to the staff members at the various language stalls – about courses in Bulgaria, about studying abroad, about cultural events and collaborations, or just picking up new words in foreign languages.

And they had to – pick up words, I mean. If they wanted a prize they had to earn it by… solving crossword puzzles! Now THERE’s Babelfor you – to solve it you’d have to find out what’s an anniversary in Italian and a bun in Russian, memory in Greek and an apple in Hungarian. No – this is no joke! The crossword puzzle demonstrated the power of multilingualism in action – at first glance impossible, it brought together all languages and scripts into a single list of words that – together – vertically read a popular Bulgarian proverb. It was so exciting to see young and old pouring over the puzzle, visiting language stall after the other to find out the exact spelling or pronunciation of some word, standing in groups and heatedly arguing about the exact connotation of similar words across different languages… And you’d really think it was all for the prizes! Well – if that were the case we wouldn’t have seen several people approach much later, when we had already finished the event and were putting our stuff away, and just want to hand in their solved puzzle out of pride of their personal victory rather than to collect anything for it!

And as if solving multilingual puzzles wasn’t enough, we also had readings of proverbs in different languages. To some they felt like tongue-twisters and yet people kept piling at the entrance to the stage to try their hand (or should I say, mouth) at “Words cut more than swords”, “Die Sprache sei die Wünschelrute, die gedankliche Quellen findet”, “Annyit ér az ember, ahány nyelvet beszél”, „Koniec języka za przewodnika”…

And then there were the country presentations – each centre had prepared a 15-minute programme highlighting the beauty of its language in a variety of forms. Some brought out the choir of their bilingual school who offered a selection of the best Italian lively songs, others had invited high school students to recite poetry, or translate the lyrics to famous opera arias. We even had reggae singers who came to say that English is not just about the standard UK accent but could vary to include the lovely melody of the Jamaican Patois and Rastafarian culture.

Judging from the amount of people who visited our event throughout the day (we estimate about 3,500) and took part in each and every of its multiple activities, Babel is not a problem for young people. They are eager to learn and use foreign languages, they are open to the cultures that they represent and they understand that your democratic freedom of speech must go hand in hand with proficiency of language – whatever language, the more – the better.

Neither is it a problem for the institutions. A phone call from the Human Resources Development Centre one day in early September recaps the motivation of the various institutions to take part. The HRDC is involved, among other things, in projects encouraging language studies as a career opportunity. They had seen the extensive media coverage of the celebration we organised in 2010 and had regretted they hadn’t known about it. So they set on a mission to find our how they might get involved in 2011. To the day they phoned the British Council who’d been leading on the Sofia EUNIC cluster for the past couple of years and respectively had led the organisation of the events as part of our programme in multilingualism. Now who wouldn’t love this – to get phone calls from partners eager to contribute to an even better event!

In conclusion, if this is the trend, this means that next year in 2012 we will be celebrating the European Day of Languages in 12 languages. Or more?


The European Day of Languages in Sofia was organised by the local branch of EUNIC – the network of European Union National Institutes for Culture, and in 2011 included: Austrian embassy, British Council, the Czech Centre, Polish Institute, French Institute, Goethe Institute, Hellenic Foundation of Culture, Hungarian Cultural institute, Instituto Cervantes, Embassy of Spain, Italian Cultural Institute as well as our partners from the Russian Cultural Centre, the Embassy of Switzerland, the Directorate General for Translation at the European Commission, Bulgarian Cultural Institute, Human Resource Development Centre.


European Day of Languages in Estonia

Council of EuropeIn today’s guest post, Sam Noble, intern at  British Council Estonia and student at the Humboldt University of Berlin, writes about his experience of the European Day of Languages in Estonia and how it has motivated him to learn more languages. The original article was posted to the British Council Estonia blog.

The European Day of Languages, held this year in Tallinn University, is an exhibition to promote language and culture to school and university students in Estonia. The British Council attended, alongside other institutions to do just that. The Estonian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Polish, Spanish, Hungarian, French and German institutes were all present, identifiable by their respective miniature flags. In addition, there were musical performances from a prepubescent Polish prodigy playing piano (I could not resist the alliteration), Russian girls in traditional costume singing in their Finno-Ugric dialect (which is the linguistic family vowel-happy Estonian belongs to) as well as language classes for all of the represented languages as well as various Estonian dialects. The only class missing was an English language class, indicative of just how pervasive English is in Estonia.

Having said that, the British Council stall was busy, giving ad-hoc university advice to young and exceptionally polite students and handing out free prospectuses and pens to all who seemed curious. It was a great opportunity to give impartial advice about British universities to potential students. Having worked for universities before, your author knows how competitive universities are in attracting non-UK students to their university. Tuition fees are extraordinarily high in the UK, consequently all universities are desperately trying to attract EU and non-EU students, riding on the excellent reputation that the UK university sector has abroad. Of course not all universities are deserving of this reputation, and it is these universities who are persuading wide-eyed students to come to their university. My advice to students was to aim as high as possible. If you are going to dish out a small fortune, apply to Oxford, apply to Cambridge and not a university that you have never heard off in a town you can not pronounce.

The day was also a great opportunity to see how other cultural institutions work and promote themselves. The Danish Cultural Institute were astounded that no Estonians were considering studying in Denmark. Unlike the UK, not only are there no tuition fees but the government gives students an allowance per month (I’m wondering why I didn’t study there myself). The monthly allowance is more than the average Estonian civil servant or teacher earns. This got me into a long and interesting conversation with my colleague and an Estonian woman who runs the English language exams at the university. In short, lots of Estonian nurses, doctors and teachers are going to Finland, Sweden, Norway and the UK simply because they can earn so much more there than they can here in Estonia. I assumed Estonians earned a similar amount, especially here in Tallinn where the prices are similar to a lot of UK towns. How do they manage?

But back to more jovial subjects. The Spanish stall was very popular, true to national (and positive) stereotype; the Spanish were gregarious and attracted a lot of attention. I wish I’d been wearing tweed and a bowler hat to emulate national stereotypes as well (the British Council didn’t even have a flag). However, my French equivalent was envious of the literature we were giving to students, that is an in-depth guide book to all the universities of the UK. “That would make my life a lot easier” He opined. If French tuition fees were anywhere near the UK prices, then French universities would be compelled to offer publications such as these to people.

I hope an event such as this continues to promote language here in Estonia. It was an event which promoted culture and language in a positive and sharing environment. Learning a new language is an enlightening experience. But more realistically, it is a way to enhance career prospects as many Estonians working in other countries may attest. I am always envious when I meet multi-lingual people. I speak one language, but this day motivated me to learn. Now if someone can just explain to me the Estonian case system I may give Estonian a go…täname, et lugemine.