European Day of Languages Comments Off
September 26th is the European Day of Languages. There are over 6000 languages spoken in the world, and behind each one lies a rich and diverse culture. The European Day of Languages aims to celebrate this worldwide diversity, showing people across Europe how important languages are, and how fun and enriching it can be to learn a new one.
Most of us learned French at school; it is the country closest to us, and the 18th most spoken language in the world. Learning French gives children a taste of a language that is not too complicated to learn, and the opportunity to visit our closest European neighbours. There are many languages in the world that are more widely spoken.
Chinese is the world’s most widely spoken language, with 955 million native speakers – but arguably, if you’re not planning a trip to China any time soon, it might not be of much use to you. Spanish is second most widely spoken, and as well as being the main language of Spain, there are also native speakers in Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, parts of the United States, Cuba, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and many more places. Learning Spanish can give you a real advantage in the modern world.
But what if you’re not interested in learning to gain an advantage; what if you’re studying for fun? In that case, why not try Russian (which also involves learning a whole new alphabet), or perhaps Tagalog, the language of the Philippines? Learning a new language can be really interesting and fulfilling as a hobby. Once you’ve learned some of the language, you can visit the country to try out what you’ve learned. You can learn about the culture, about the country’s history and about the people’s day to day lives.
Because their brains are still developing, children are usually better able to pick up new languages – the younger the better! If you have children, why not celebrate European Day of Languages by learning some key words and phrases from different languages? You could make it fun by allowing the child to choose a word, and then look up its meaning in lots of different languages – how many languages can you find?
Here are a few to get you started:
You could learn about the country and maybe dress up in their national dress and cook some of their traditional food. It’s fun for all ages to explore different cultures and languages. Many languages have words that don’t even exist in English, for example the German word schadenfreude, meaning taking pleasure in someone else’s misfortune; or perhaps the Danish word for skimming stones, plimpplampplettere. Looking for these words can be great fun and very enlightening!