Multilingualism in Europe

27 September 2008

"Translation is the language of Europe"
Umberto Eco, writer

The diversity of languages is a chance for Europe. With this belief, nearly one thousand participants from 30 countries attended the Etats-Généraux of multilingualism held in the big Aula of Sorbonne on 26 September 2008, at the occasion of the European Day of Languages.

This event of the European Union French presidency gave the floor to representatives of many sectors of society: business leaders, teachers, researchers, artists, translators, responsible for consumer movement ... All highlighted the benefits European citizens can get through language skills, including in their own language, for their professional development, their mobility, their access to content and cultural works.

These considerations will inspire the drafting of the European Council resolution on multilingualism, that the French Presidency will submit to its partners in the Education, Youth and Culture on 20 and 21 November 2008.

Christine Albanel, Minister of Culture and Communication of France, who opened this event, highlighted the role of multilingualism in intercultural dialogue and circulation of works. The Minister urged the European Union to strengthen its action in favor of the translation.

Alain Joyandet, Secretary of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, meanwhile stressed the importance for the EU to promote its linguistic diversity, establishing its identity ( "United in Diversity "), and mastery of languages to enhance the skills of employees and competitiveness.

Leonard Orban, European Commissioner placed multilingualism at the heart of the strategies of the European Union, showing that it is a crosscutting issue affecting education, employment and culture. On the occasion, he presented the European Commission action plan: http://ec.europa.eu/education/languages/index_fr.htm

In addition, three round-table discussions addressed multinguisme from different angles:

  • Multilingualism and the circulation of works in Europe: How to disseminate scientific and cultural works of our European neighbors? What future for careers in translation?
  • Multilingualism, economic competitiveness and social cohesion: How to increase the market shares of European companies with language skills? What is the impact of language choices of businesses on the social body?
  • Creativity and innovation for multilingual education in Europe: How to use new technologies to facilitate language learning? How to develop education

Xavier Darcos, Minister of National Education of France, closed the event by underscoring that attention must be paid to language teaching methods so that every young person, when coming out of school, can master two languages in addition to his mother tongue, as advocated by the European Union.

The day was also a rendez-vous for the Languages party (Fête des langues), to which all Parisians were invited throughout the day: a visual and audible through several places emblematic of the capital have enabled them to discover the wealth of linguistic heritage of Europe, with balloons, banners, dissemination of European songs or even light projections on Ile de la Cité: http://www.languesenfete.fr

ICVolunteers took part in the day represented by Adama Samassékou, President, and Viola Krebs, Executive Director, who also represented the World Network for Linguistic Diversity, Maaya, ICVolunteers which currently provides the secretariat.

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