Bringing languages into the classroom


More than 6,000 languages are uttered around the world and linguistic diversity can play a pivotal role in intercultural understanding.

That’s why the European Day of Languages, marked annually on 26 September, is an important day in the classroom.

Teachers can embrace the opportunity to introduce new languages to their pupils and can celebrate the diversity that exists, both across the UK and Europe.

It’s also a chance to promote language learning at a time when the uptake of modern foreign languages in schools is declining.

What is the European Day of Languages?

Initially introduced as the European Year of Languages in 2001 by the Council of Europe and the European Union, the aim was to celebrate linguistic diversity across the continent.

Having been widely viewed as a success, the Council of Europe declared that 26 September would be the European Day of Languages every year.

By showcasing the importance of language learning, the day helps to boost cultural understanding and diversity.

It also encourages learning both in and out of school for mobility purposes, for professional needs or merely for pleasure.

How school pupils and teachers can benefit

The day provides an opportunity for teachers of all classes to consider other cultures and traditions that may otherwise be overlooked.

Teaching staff may want to look at the languages that are spoken in the classroom, consider the importance of multilingual approaches or even tie in aspects of language to modern culture.

This could focus on aspects such as how language can be tied into popular music or to consider the many different languages that are spoken at a youngster’s favourite football team.

Anything that can aid intercultural learning and understanding can benefit pupils in the long term, which is why healthy discussion and debate should also be introduced into the classroom.

The European Day of Languages can also be used to boost language skills and to encourage pupils to consider how knowing several languages can benefit them in future careers.

Everyone can take part in the day in some way, so teachers have a vital role in shaping how young people approach and use language in the classroom.

A wide range of resources can be found on both the European Day of Languages website and via Tes that support classroom activities on 26 September.