Multilingualism a door to an open society

On October 23rd, Leonard Orban, European Commissioner for Multilingualism made a plea. He maintains that languages are crucial bridges between cultures. To learn a new language is to explore new ways of thinking, new value-systems and to open our horizons to the richness of other cultures and ideas.

As the European Commissioner for Multilingualism put it:

We should use this diversity to Europe’s advantage. A culture of multilingualism promotes a culture of openness and tolerance. These are crucial values not only for Europe but for the entire world. Any realistic international vision for the future of our world has to be founded on acceptance and appreciation of different cultures – and languages are at the heart of any culture.

Everybody should learn languages

Multilingualism can play a key role in intercultural dialogue; in creating more cohesive and more sustainable societies. Of course it is important for migrants to learn the language of the host-country to gain access to jobs and to the life of the community. It is a means to becoming an active citizen who is engaged with society.

But everybody needs to learn more languages to bring about a more open society. Each of the many national, regional, minority and migrant languages add a facet to our common cultural background. Is this not the meaning of the European motto “Unity in Diversity”?

Languages for all

Multilingualism has a strong educational dimension. Universities and schools are essential. But language teaching must not be confined to academic institutions. Not only young people, but adults too, should be encouraged to carry on learning foreign languages, with facilities on hand to make this possible. Workers should have the opportunity to improve the language skills relevant to their working life. Language learning is for all citizens, throughout their lives.

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Fabian says:

The European Commission launched a competition to promote multilingualism

The competition aims to demonstrate through pleasant and amusing anecdotes showing the benefits of knowing languages and to inspire people to learn foreign languages.

The authors of the best stories will be invited to Brussels in 2011.

The stories can be submitted in video, audio, text, photo or poster format and will be published on the competition website ( The public will choose the best stories by voting on line. The competition and the public voting will be open until 31 January 2011.

The winners will be invited to an Award Ceremony organised in Brussels around 9 May in the context of Europe Day 2011.

The competition is open for people who are 18 years or older and residents of the EU countries, Turkey, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

The stories can be about any language in the world, but must be presented in one of the 23 official languages of the EU.

Wanna join?

Miranda says:

it is true that multilingualism plays a key role in interaction with people from different countries. I’m interested in learning languages, but it costs time and money.

jimmy says:

The new Constitution does not set age limits: it determines that education is compulsory, aiming at providing the necessary structure to the development of the students potential as an element of selffulfillment, training for work, and conscious exercise of citizenship.