Why Celebrate The European Day of Languages 2020?
The European Day of Languages 2020 on 26th September is an excellent opportunity to promote languages within schools. Not only with Brexit around the corner but also with more pressure on languages in schools and colleges after such a long break during the pandemic. Celebrating the European Day of Languages 2020 is an excellent opportunity for MFL Teachers to show that languages do exist and they are worth celebrating.
Previous European Day of Languages Events
A few years ago, I was in charge of organising the itinerary and events for this fabulous celebration of languages. I spent ages preparing. because my events lasted a whole week. I invited speakers, got the press involved and also planned other exciting EDoL activities for the whole school, tutor groups and individuals. I actually wrote about all these ideas on my post entitled: Running a Successful European Day of Languages . I mention a few ideas below that could still be COVID-friendly for this years European Day of Languages 2020 celebrations.
How Will The European Day of Languages Be Different in 2020?
Obviously, due to masks, social distancing, reduction in visitors allowed on the premises etc, this year’s events may need to be a little different. Below, you’ll find lots of useful, European Day of Languages COVID-friendly activities and ideas for the whole school, tutor groups, language lessons and for individuals. You can easily use them in your schools and educational establishments. If you haven’t already finalised your European Day of Languages plans, or want some alternative ideas for Tuesday 26th September, I hope these ideas give you some extra inspiration.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional and can’t guarantee these ideas are 100% COVID-19 friendly! However, I have considered the information from schools, the government and used some of my common sense. I hope you find them useful for the European Day of Languages 2020. If there are any ideas you can’t use, feel free to disregard them.
How Many Countries in Europe?
Europe currently includes 44 countries, according to the United Nation and there are 27 countries which are part of the European Union. Many of these countries are represented within our schools and so, there’s plenty of scope for activities.
Whole School Ideas for European Day of Languages
1. European Break Time and Lunch Time Treats
It may currently be a bit too late to speak to the canteen to put on some elaborate European treats at break or lunch. If not, go and have a chat with the Head of Dining. In the past, school offered: pizza, pain au chocolat, croissants, Currywurst, spaghetti and paella, for example. These should (hopefully) be pretty simple for the canteen to prepare if you’ve left the conversation a bit last minute!
2. European Parliament Looking At The Work and Life of Translators and Interpreters
If you are looking to share possible career options with your students, register in advance to watch the live stream from the Hemicycle plenary chamber. It’s the heart of the European Parliament.
There are different sessions that will look at the work and life of interpreters and translators. You can get more information about the EDoL workshops.
However, to register I think you would need to click the ‘contact us’ bottom at the base of the website, as I can’t see a ‘sign up’ link on the page.
Has anyone already registered for this, if so, please comment below on how you went about registering. Thank you!
3. Voluntary ‘Why Learn Languages?’ Poster and Essay Writing Competition
In order to get the whole school involved in EDL, how about a KS3 and KS4/5 language poster/writing competition?
All three key stages could produce a poster, entitled: ‘Why Learn Languages?’ This could be created in a European language. Another idea would be to get GCSE students and A-Level students to write an essay in a European language about: why should students in secondary schools learn modern languages?’ in another language. Award prizes for each year group (or a couple if there are a number of entries). £5 book tokens usually go down well or an Amazon voucher.
4. Get The Press Involved
If you do manage to get a few different activities sorted for the European Day of Languages, consider asking the local press to feature what you are doing. This will get a buzz going in your local community, as well as getting your school some good publicity.
Sometimes, newspapers ask you to send your own write up and photos and so that will avoid any ‘unwanted’ visitors coming onto the premises. When I got local press involved in my plans, I just sent our EDoL itinerary, as well as some images. If you’re interested in reading the articles, you can do so here: Fun with Foreign Languages and Languages for European Celebration Day – in the last article, the facts aren’t quite correct – I was not Head of Languages. That might be the downside of getting them to do the write-up!
5. Digital Bake Off
Bake Offs are pretty cool and they get all year groups involved in the European Day of Language celebrations. This year, it might not be possible to do one in the traditional way. It could still be run, but rather than bringing their bakes into school, bake at home and take a picture.
As an extra challenge, older students could perhaps write the recipe in TL. The students send pictures to a dedicated email address with their name, form and the name of their creation. Print off the entries, display in the MFL department or an entrance hall? Students can vote for a winner or you can choose one. Give prizes, such as a book, a book token or a free meal in the canteen, for example.
Tutor Group and House European Day of Languages Ideas
6. European Day of Languages 2020 School Lunch Competition
If you can’t get the canteen to pull off a European Day of Languages lunch with short notice, why not get a tutor group competition going for next year’s lunch? Send out a digital flyer, as well as pinning up posters around the school to promote the competition.
Students research school meals in countries around Europe and create a menu for a school meal in the target language OR in English. The winning tutor group gets a day of their menu meals produced the next month by the canteen (agree in advance!). Alternatively, at next year’s European Day of Languages celebrations. These photos of world school lunches could be a good visual starting point.
7. Guess The Country By The Lunch Plate
A quicker alternative to number 6 is guess the lunch by the country. Create some slides with a different country’s lunch on each slide.
This could just be a fun tutor group competition and the person or group within a tutor group to guess the countries wins! This is less focused on language and more on culture. However, you could also label food items on each slide in the actual country’s wording. An extra suggestion, which I think is great for cross-curricular learning would be to guess the calorie count for each meal!
8. European Country House Presentation Competition
Each form within a house can choose a country from the 27 countries in the European Union. I would recommend that language teachers give a list of countries to each of Head of House who can then assign countries according to tutor’s/tutor group preferences.
Students use a few tutor time sessions to create a 5-minute presentation to highlight the main / interesting aspects of the country. Such as, teaching the students how to say something in the language, a bit about the culture and perhaps a bit of music or some realia.
This European Day of Languages 2020 Activity has a competitive element. It allows students in a tutor group to work together, assign roles, prepare a presentation and present it. I am not sure if all schools are having ‘house assemblies’ at the moment. However, this could be modified to get students in tutor groups to work together and present to their teacher on an assigned day.
9. Language Lessons – Flags
Super simple and very little preparation. I know that language lesson time is very precious after such a long break. However, you could give students templates of different European flags. Then get them to research which countries the flags belong to and ask them to colour them in.
This wouldn’t take too much time, but really gives a focus on the culture of European Countries. It’s very COVID-friendly, since it’s an individual activity. You could then spruce the MFL department up by hanging them around the classrooms/hallways. I got inspiration for this idea from Clare Seccombe (Lightbulb Languages).
10. Tutor Time European Day of Languages Escape Room
The resources that SonrieinSpanish keeps putting together is incredible! If you’re looking for an Escape Room for Tutor Time, check this out.
11. Language Taster Classes
This is a great opportunity to get students who speak foreign languages to get involved in European Day of Languages 2020 activities! Ask students who speak other languages (it doesn’t necessarily have to be European Languages) to offer a taster class in their mother tongue. This could be a 45-minute lunchtime taster class that could be broadcast live on a screen (to be more COVID-friendly), or in a room big enough for the signed up number of students.
Alternatively, language taster classes could also be offered on a tutor group basis too. You may have speakers of Greek, Polish, Gujarati, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese etc and this might be a lovely opportunity for these students to step out of their comfort zone or even share their culture with classmates or the school.
12. Play European Music in the MFL Department
Music is an easy and COVID-friendly way to get languages into the events for the European Day of Languages 2020! I have created a European Day of Languages 2020 Playlist with 30 songs from across Europe. Most of these are quite catchy. Countries include: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania, France, Germany, Moldova, Belarus, Belgium, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Slovenia and The Netherlands. You could play this from a room in the MFL department and perhaps ask other departments to play the playlist at lunchtime, too. I know that many schools have staggered lunchtimes at the moment so I realise this might not work for everyone!
I am sure there are plenty of other European Day of Languages activities and ideas that are COVID-friendly so if there are others that you can think of, please do share in the comments below!
See more of my COVID-friendly teaching activities below!
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