Parlez-vous français? Español? Cymraeg? (Translation: Do you speak French? Spanish? Welsh?)

Next Thursday (September 26) is the European Day of Languages. This is a day which encourages Europe’s 800 million people to try learning to speak a new language.

The five most widely spoken languages in Europe are Russian, German, English, French and Italian. However, the continent is home to a whopping 225 native languages! Most of these can be grouped into “families”. For example, English and Dutch are members of the Germanic family, while Spanish and French come from Latin.

Although we tend to think of European countries as speaking one language each, some countries actually have more than one official tongue… Switzerland even has four! (Those are German, French, Italian and Romansh, if you were wondering.)

Learning a new language is very useful. Not everyone speaks English, so talking to locals in their own language is a great way to make new friends in other countries (or asking for help if you get lost). It is also a way to help you start seeing the world through the eyes — and ears — of a different culture.

What language would you like to learn if you had the chance?

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Could we learn to talk to animals one day? In this amazing video, a killer whale has learned to say “hello”. Can learning new languages help us to understand people (and perhaps even animals) better?


  1. As a class, take it in turns to say “hello” in as many different languages as possible. How many do you know?
  2. Choose a language that no one in your class speaks, and then research some basic phrases together. Aim to be able to have a simple conversation by Friday!