The role of multilingualism in intercultural understandingThe ability to speak another language is vital for building intercultural understanding, which is a central element of the European Union’s mission. Therefore, by building awareness of this linguistic diversity, the CoE aims to strengthen the ties that bring us together and overcome intercultural misunderstandings that are exacerbated by limited language ability.
Multilingualism is a core feature of the European Parliament, where all MEPs may speak and receive documentation in the official European Language of their choice. Legislation must also be published in these languages; it is therefore vital to ensure accuracy and consistency among all versions.
Speaking at least one other language is also a vital skill for EU citizens as freedom of movement presents the opportunity to study, live and work in other European countries. Educational exchange programs like Erasmus offer young people the chance to experience life in another country, further breaking down intercultural barriers. Even learning a few words of the language when you go abroad on holiday can have a large impact and can help you to build connections with the people you meet there. Currently, just over half of all Europeans speak two languages and a quarter speak three.
2019: International Year of Indigenous LanguagesAlthough there are 24 official languages in Europe, 225 indigenous languages are spoken (approximately 3% of the world’s total) plus many other non-European languages spoken by people with an immigration background. 2019 is the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages, highlighting the UN’s mission to protect indigenous knowledge and cultures as strategic resources for good governance, peacebuilding, reconciliation, and sustainable development.
Any individual or organization can take part in the European Day of Languages and the CoE encourages everyone to coordinate or attend events. This year, there are approximately 350 events in Western Europe, 175 in Eastern Europe and 50 in Northern Europe, and many more in Asia, Africa and North and South America.
As intercultural trainers, BAMIK naturally promotes multilingual and intercultural interaction. Our experts speak 12 languages, and languages spoken in the office include English, German, Spanish, French, and Japanese. We understand the importance of language in overcoming intercultural communication barriers and work to help people to overcome misunderstandings in personal, academic and professional settings, even when they share a language.
For more information on the European Day of Languages, click here (external link).
For more information on events being held, click here (external link).
For more information on the International Year of Indigenous Languages, click here (external link).