I know. It seems that after the Brexit vote that many people are fed up with them on the continent.
A lot of them were up in arms about someone in Brussels giving us all these rules for us to follow – silly things like ensuring our household items won’t catch fire or explode. Look at them, making sure our working conditions are safe and hazard-free. Bureaucrats!
But us Euro aficianados will be uber-excited to celebrate the European Day of Languages on Tuesday 26 September with great bravura and a real sense of joie de vivre.
It grew out of the success of The European Year of Languages in 2001, jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the European Union, which involved millions of people across 45 participating countries. Its activities celebrated linguistic diversity in Europe and promoted language learning.
Since then the EDL (not to be confused with the infamous organisation that also uses this acronym – this one is the good one, and has significantly more positive views on Europe) has been celebrated on 26 September each year, in order to showcase the importance of language learning and diversify the range of languages learnt to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding, as well as to encourage lifelong language learning in and out of school.
1. EDL lesson plan
This resource is a great starting point for celebrating the European Day of Languages. By the end of the sessions students will have seen deeper into the importance of foreign language learning as well as to its relevance to our everyday life, thus realising the value of plurilingualism and have a sense of belonging in the broad ‘European Family’, all through activities involving reading, writing, speaking, listening, and for secondary students crafting and drawing as well.
For something a bit different, as well as being closer to home, why not explore the differences and similarities between English and Welsh?
This interactive BBC resource looks at stereotypes of the English language, how Welsh has influenced common speech as well as place names and is a great insight into how language are constructed through history and how they intertwine.
Unless your Italian is up to scratch you might need to use Google translate on this page, but in essence it’s a very simple and fun idea, you probably don’t even need to read it.
Basically, the students in this school were involved in a variety of activities to promote plurilingualism, making and wearing T-shirts with the words “Today I’m only speaking English/French/German/Spanish” in their chosen language. As you’ve probably guessed, the challenge is to go all morning only conversing in your language, and you can hand out themed prizes at the end.
They all made up special colorful clothes, billboards, flags, and used traditional foods to celebrate together and highlight the day.
You can find this and absolutely loads more, from starters and plenaries to assemblies and whole-school celebrations on the SCILT site here.
5. Idioms of the World
A fun little exercise to help pupils understand that languages are not simply a case of word-for-word translations is this list of English idioms in other cultures.
If you thought phrases like ‘don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched’ were daft enough, try the Italian ‘non dire gatto se non ce l’hai nel sacco’ or ‘Never say cat if you have not got it in your sack’.
Equally brilliant is the Finnish ‘Älä nuolaise ennen kuin tipahtaa’, which means ‘don’t start licking it up before it drops on to the table’. This begs the question ‘do people in Finland lick things off tables?’. I suppose no more so that we hold birds in our hand, bite bullets or chase wild geese around.
Other gems include the Portuguese take on ‘a sandwich short of a picnic’ which translates as ‘he has little monkeys in the attic’, the Spanish ‘there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark’ which is ‘there’s a cat locked up’ and the wonderfully literally Romanian take on raining cats and dogs, which translates as ‘it’s raining heavily’.