European Day of Languages
At the initiative of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, the European Day of Languages has been celebrated every year since 2001 on 26 September. The European Year of Languages 2001, jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the European Union, was successful in involving millions of people across 45 participating countries. Its activities celebrated linguistic diversity in Europe and promoted language learning.
There are about 225 indigenous languages in Europe – roughly 3% of the world’s total. Most of the European languages are of Indo-European origin. Since the end of the 18th century, the most widespread language of Europe (both in terms of geography and the number of native speakers) has been Russian, which replaced French. Counting only native speakers, approximately 150 million Europeans speak Russian on a daily basis, followed by German (approx. 95 mil.), Turkish(approx. 80 mil.), English and French (each by 65 mil.), Italian (60 mil.), Spanish and Polish (40 mil. each), Ukrainian (30 mil.) and Romanian (26 mil.). As far as foreign language studies are concerned, English is currently the most popular foreign language in Europe, followed by German, French, Italian, Russian and Spanish.
Following the success of the Year of Languages, the Council of Europe declared a European Day of Languages to be celebrated on 26th of September each year. The general objectives of the European Day of Languages are:
- Alerting the public to the importance of language learning and diversifying the range of languages learnt in order to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding;
- Promoting the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe, which must be preserved and fostered;
- Encouraging lifelong language learning in and out of school, whether for study purposes, for professional needs, for purposes of mobility or for pleasure and exchanges.
26 September 2011 marked the 10th anniversary of the European Day of Languages (EDL) celebrated at the Council of Europe and throughout its 47 member states.