Teenagers in classroom at language school

European Day of Languages

Happy 26 September, the 15th European Day of Languages! Did you know there are between 6,000 and 7,000 languages in the world – spoken by 7 billion people divided into 189 independent states? Or that at least half of the world’s population are bilingual or plurilingual, i.e. they speak two or more languages?

Today is the day when people all over the world celebrate language learning, from fun activities in schools and colleges to national campaigns across Europe to promote languages and to acknowledge the important role that learning a language plays in a wider cultural context.  Academic research suggests that learning a foreign language is an excellent way to keep your brain active and healthy, and that it is never too late to make a start.

Here are 3 fun facts for today:
  1. In English, there are nine ways to pronounce “ough”. The following sentence has all nine variations: “A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”
  2. The hardest tongue-twister in French is considered to be: Combien de sous sont ces saucissons-ci? Ces saucissons-ci sont six sous: “How much are these sausages here? These sausages here are six cents”.
  3. Silbo Gomero is a whistled language spoken by the people who live on La Gomera in the Canary Islands. The inhabitants are able to mimic the spoken language of the region – Castilian Spanish – via whistling sounds. Although it is thought that there are other whistling languages in the world, Silbo Gomero is the only fully developed one and still in practice.   It is taught to school children on La Gomera in an attempt to keep it alive.

Are you keen to keep your language skills alive?  See our range of European language courses and get in touch for more details.  A bientot, bis bald, hasta pronto, see you soon!

About the Author
Kath Bateman founded Caledonia in 1996 and still has a very active role in the company. As a linguist and avid traveller, Caledonia brings together many strands of Kath’s personal and professional interests. She is a Modern Languages and Tourism graduate and has worked as a tour leader and trilingual guide, ski rep and salsa teacher, cultural events organiser, salsa club promoter and English language teacher. She lived and studied in France and Austria and has travelled widely elsewhere in Europe, Latin America and particularly in Cuba. Kath is still very much involved in the business and is as motivated by what Caledonia does as when she first set up the company in the spare room at home all those years ago.