Why you can learn a language: 4 common linguistic myths

European Day of Languages logo European Day of Languages 2014


Whether you aspire to becoming a talented multi linguist or to learn some basic phrases there are many benefits to learning a new language regardless of age or ability.  So as today is European Day of Languages what better time to dispel some linguistic myths? And take a look at some inspiring language focused projects as examples of how language learning can be included in your Erasmus+ projects… 

#1 Was ist mit der Sprachbarriere? (What about the language barrier?)

Immerse yourself! Whether it is yourself or your participants going abroad another language can be daunting. But as Royal Forest of Dean College showed in their Leonardo mobility project, it can be overcome. Catering students worked alongside experienced chefs in Italy and were set tasks such as going into the town and sourcing local cheeses, wines and cured meats to learn about ingredients. They spent two weeks working in a hotel kitchen learning to create Italian delicacies authentically. As one participant, Amy, explained:

Overcoming the language barrier was challenging, but once we did it was an amazing experience both in terms of work and personally. I'm planning to go back to Italy to travel in the summer if I can. It was very exciting and motivated me to do as well as possible at college when I returned.” - Mobility participant Amy  

#2 J'ai laissé trop tard! (I’ve left it too late)

The key is confidence! The UK may not have always had the best language learning reputation but the tide is turning. Last year the number of UK students taking GCSEs in a foreign language rose 17%. The European Day of Languages initiative of the Council of Europe has been celebrated every year since 2001 on 26 September. As part of the campaign there are many online resources which can help to boost your skills and get people excited about language such as the self assessment language game

 #3 No tengo tiempo! (I don’t have time!)

There’s an app for that! There are many free apps you can download which help to learn a language. From Babbel to Duolingo they are great for using on the go so you can practice your ‘Tú ’ form on the way to work or on your lunch hour. You can also download the free iPhone app for Europass which helps your skills, language-related experience and qualifications become easily understood throughout Europe.

#4 Eu não sou um estudante de línguas (I’m not a language student)

No problem! In Erasmus+ participants of many ages and stages in their educational and professional life will be encouraged to develop their language skills. Strategic Partnerships looking at language learning and teaching are encouraged in the programme as well as good practices which promote and teach language skills. As EC Commissioner Vassiliou told the Guardian:

“Languages are one of our six priority topics under Erasmus+. Whether it is for mobility for language learning, partnerships between institutions for language teaching, or policy support, it is one of our priorities."

Have you had a positive language experience from taking part in a European project? Let us know your language learning tips by tweeting us @erasmusplusuk

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