Issue date: 13 September 2001

The University of the West of England is to hold a series of events to celebrate the European Year of Languages. With special funding from the European Union the events will focus on the importance of learning languages and the role languages play in our lives.

The EU has designated 26 September as the European Year of Languages Day, and on that date events will be held simultaneously all over Europe. To coincide with this day, passengers leaving for European destinations at Bristol International Airport will be surveyed on their language abilities by a team of multilingual speakers who will enquire about their preparedness for speaking languages abroad. The aim is to identify needs and provide information about opportunities to meet those needs.

As part of the project primary school children in the area will benefit from a series of taster sessions held throughout this term using specially prepared materials from Hannover and Bordeaux, the city’s twin towns and also materials prepared by the Spanish Embassy specifically for the European Year of Languages.

In addition exhibitions will be held at the Galleries Shopping Centre in Broadmead from 17 – 23 September and at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway from 24 – 30 September encouraging members of the public to 'take the languages challenge' and attempt to learn another language by whatever means and to whatever level they feel is appropriate.

The Faculty of Languages and European Studies which is organising the series of events will also hold an Open Day on 27 September. Visitors to the Language Centre will be able to see TV, films, documentaries, CD ROMS and live satellite which will give an insight into different languages and cultures. Multilingual staff will be on hand to demonstrate the latest learning facilities.

Irene Wilkie, the project director says, nowadays many people tend to underestimate the importance of language learning, “Learning a second language can be important for professional development, overseas travel and cross-cultural understanding - and what's more it can actually be fun! Although the English language is now very widely spoken, this is no excuse for not making the effort to learn another language and we hope to convince at least a few people of this over the next few weeks.''


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