jueves, 26 de septiembre de 2013

European Day of Languages

Today we celebrate the European Day of Languages.

The Council of Europe set up this day 13 years ago to foster and promote language learning throughout Europe because it was thought there have never been more opportunities to work or study in a different European country than now but lack of language competence prevents many people from taking advantage of this situation. In addition, learning other languages is a way of helping citizens to understand each other better and overcome cultural differences.

To celebrate  the  European Day of Languages, the Council of Europe has prepared a number of activities that try to raise Europeans' awareness of the diversity and variety of the languages spoken throughout the continent and the need to speak more than one foreign language.

I have gone through these resources and have made a selection of those which might help us to both become aware of the objectives of the day and develop our grasp of English. Feel free, however, to vist the webpage of the  European Day of Languages to gain a full scope of all the suggestions and information gathered by The Council of Europe.
  • Take a quiz to test your knowledge about the languages of Europe.
  • Read and/or download the Passport to the European Union to find out some basic information about each of the countries in the Union. (For Básico 1 and Básico 2 students.)
  • Let's Explore Europe is a flipbook that you can read online or download in PDF format. (For Básico 1 and Básico 2 students.)
  • The students at Newbury Park Primary School teach you key phrases in a wide range of languages and a bit about the country where that language is spoken. The video where the programme is introduced is good listening practise  for intermediate students.
The Indian film English Vinglish released last year, the trailer of which we can watch here, may help us understand how important it is to know the language when we visit or live in a foreign country. The film deals with the problems an Indian housewife has with English when living in New York. She makes up her mind to sign up for an English course to please her family. You can read the transcript below.

There are lots of video clips around that dwell on the importance of language learning. I've selected two more for the European Day of Languages.

Speaking English in French


German submarine
This is an oldish ad for Berlitz language courses.

English Vinglish
Next! How are you doing today, mam?
I want a…
I asked how you, how you were doing today.
I’m doing…
What is the purpose of your visit to the United States?
My sister is certain in reading.
Hello? English tuition?
I can come in?
You may not.
You need to ask “May I come in?”
My name’s Laurent.
I Shashi from the India.
Not Shashi. Not from the India. From India.
Why India, not the India, why America, the United States of America?
My English… weak.
Mam, how will you manage in our country if you don’t know English?
Like you´re managing in our country without knowing Hindi?

Speaking English in French
Lady: Excuse me? Excuse me? Sorry. Do you speak English?
Man 1: No, I don't sorry.
Lady: My car's broken down and I wondered if you could tell me where to find a garage.
Man 1: Well you know, that's wasted on me. I don't, I don't understand what you're saying.
Lady: You don't speak English at all?
Man 1: Not a word, no. That's one of those things really I wish I had paid more attention in school, but you know. Excuse me, excuse me, sorry. Do you speak any English?
Man 2: English? No.
Man 1: That's a problem, I don't either. I can't understand her...
Lady: Hi, my car's broken down and I need to find a garage.
Man 2: No, I'm so sorry, I don't understand that at all.
Lady: Alright, well, thanks.
Man 1: I'll tell you what, if you go down that way, about half a mile. There's a village. There might be somebody there that speaks English. 
Lady: Ich speaken bisschen deutsch; Sprecken Sie Deutsch?
Man 1: Deutsch? Nein? Sprichst du Deutsch?
Man 2: Deutsch? Nein. Nur ein oder zwei Wörter. Ich bin nicht fließend.
Man 1: Sorry we could not help. Sorry about that. Hey, you never know, next time you're over , maybe we'll have learned a bit of English...
Man 2: Oder Deutsch vielleicht.
Man 1: Ja, das wäre toll.
Lady: Thanks anyway.
Man 1: I CAN speak English.
Man2: So can I.

German submarine
Mayday, mayday. Hello, can you hear us?, can you hear us? Over. We are sinking! We are sinking!
Hallo! This is German coast guard.
We are sinking! Sinking! 
What are you thinking (seenking?) about?