Europe celebrates its multilingualism on the European Day of Languages, on 26 September.
Back in 2001, the European Council established the European Day of Languages. Not too long after its inauguration, the national ministry for education joined the initiative to honour Luxembourg’s multilingualism.
Myriam Bamberg, the communication manager of the ministry for education, explained to Delano on 21 September that they submitted a flyer to different schools, “crèches” and “maisons relais” to thematise and celebrate multilingualism in school institutions.
Accordingly, schools don’t have to register to participate: “teachers are free to design the day as they want, it is just a push of inspiration. We are providing the flyer as a support; as an idea,” Bamberg noted.
However, a high diversity of languages is old news to Luxembourg, where more than six languages are used on a daily basis. And still, Bamberg reckoned that this advantage isn’t taken for granted: “in school, you grow up with plenty of languages, if you move here at a later point, you’ll equally notice how the many languages are used side to side at work but also in your social life. I believe that people regard it as a richness.”
In line with the ministry’s programme, Delano took the initiative to the streets on 21 September. Like their campaign video, I asked people about the languages they spoke as well as to say, “talk to me” in their language of choice.
Christophe, for example, who’s native French, was also fluent in English. However, he told me that he barely used his second language. Lia-Emilie, spoke three languages: French, Spanish and English, her favourite language being her native-tongue, French.
Jean-Jacques came from Lebanon, thus was fluent in Arabic but also in French, English, and Spanish. He has to switch around a lot, as he told Delano: with his friends, he communicates in French; for business, he mainly uses English; with his family, he talks in Arabic. With a laugh, he added that his girlfriend used to live in Barcelona, so Spanish was another language he picked up.
Jakob was from Sweden and apart from his mother-tongue, he was fluent in German and English. Yoann broke the record of the day, as he told Delano that he was fluent in French, Spanish, Catalan, English and Italian. Except for Italian, his friend Ramon was fluent in the same languages, yet with a preference for his native tongue Spanish.
Liz, a local resident, was fluent in Luxembourgish, German, French and English. She doesn’t like French too much, as she revealed to Delano and she mainly communicated in her native tongue Luxembourgish.