Contributor: Sam Collins
Try out some of our teaching ideas to mark the European Day of Languages, which takes place on 26th September each year. There are lots of ways to celebrate the wonderful diversity of languages in Europe.
If you have any other ideas of your own, let us know by adding a comment below!
- Read some dual language texts. Try to identify words with the same meaning in the two languages.
- Write a postcard from a European country. Include some words or phrases in the local language.
- Learn some idioms in another language. For example, in English, we sometimes say it is “raining cats and dogs”. How is this expressed in other languages?
- Learn the alphabet of a different language.
- Write and perform a poem or play that includes words from different languages.
- Create an advert for a European tourist attraction or landmark, including vocabulary in the local language.
- Use a bilingual dictionary to look up words in a text.
- Learn to count in a different language
- Find out the vocabulary for a maths topic in another language, such as the words for addition and subtraction. This site is perfect for researching maths words in German, for example.
- Make a bar chart showing the most widely spoken languages in different European countries.
- Find out the words for geometric shapes in different languages and label them.
- Learn the names of parts of the body, animals or plants in another language.
- Sort science vocabulary words into English and another language.
- Label some science equipment in another language.
- Research a European scientist and find out which countries they lived in and which languages they spoke. Learn some of the vocabulary about their work in the language they would have used.
- Find out the words for computing terms in another language.
- Use a translation service to translate some text. Can you match the meanings in the two languages?
- Design a simple vocabulary quiz in PowerPoint or another presentation program.
- Make some virtual flashcards to learn new vocabulary using an art or presentation package.
- Design a computer game or app that will help people to learn or understand a language.
- Watch this video of people saying “Hello, talk to me” in different languages. Can you make a similar video using a simple phrase in different languages?
- Find some words in different languages that share common roots (cognates). For example, the words for mother and father are similar in lots of languages.
- Explore words that sound similar but have different meanings (false cognates), such as jolly (English) and jolie (French).
- Research and write a simple travel phrasebook for someone visiting a different country. Include phrases they might need, like “Where is the train station?” or “How much does it cost?”
- Find out about punctuation in different languages. For example, which languages use << >> to show direct speech? Which language uses ¿?
- Scroll down to the bottom of the European Day of Languages website for lots of games and activities linked to languages.
- Use a translation app to create a bilingual presentation or story.
- Translate a simple recipe into another language.
- Look at the text on packaging or instructions in different languages. What do you notice?
- Research the vocabulary for traditional dress in different European countries.
- Create a fact file about a European inventor, labelling your images in the inventor’s language.
- Label a product in a different language.
- Create a “bingo” game where players match the word for an object to its picture.
- Choose an artwork by a European artist. Research which languages they spoke. Find out appropriate vocabulary in their main language to describe the artwork.
- Learn art terms from different languages. This site is a good source of information for teachers.
- Find out some vocabulary in different languages. For example, what is the word for a paintbrush?
- Learn a song in a different language. Here are some examples:
- Find out about a European composer or musician. What languages did they speak? What style of music did they make? Where in Europe did they live?
- Learn words in different languages by clapping out their rhythms.
- Make a playlist of songs in different languages.
- Using a translator app, translate the lyrics of a song into another language. Could you sing them to the same tune, or would you have to change them to make them fit?
- Label a European map with the official languages of each country. Research how many other languages are also spoken in a country and make a list.
- Find out the local names of well-known landmarks in Europe, such as the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
- Mark a European map with the names of each country in their own language. You could also challenge the children to find and mark the capitals too.
- Label European flags with their country names in their own language.
- Try this fun game that asks you to guess which country a picture was taken in. The round lens lets you zoom in on the writing.
- Sequence some key events from the timeline of a European country. Label each in their own language.
- Create a fact file about a famous person in history, using some words and phrases in their own language.
- Ask children to use the internet to find out about the history of a language. Did it develop from an earlier language? Where was it first spoken? How many people speak it now?
- Learn the vocabulary for a game in another language and use that language while playing the game.
- Research a European sportsperson and learn some vocabulary for their sport in their own language.
- Learn the names of items of equipment in other languages.
- Teach the names of the body parts in another language. Use them to play a simple physical game like “Simon Says”.
- Research a religious festival that takes place in Europe and find out the vocabulary used in the local language.
- Look at a religious painting from Europe and find out vocabulary to describe it in the language of the artist or the country it was painted in.
- Find out the names of places of worship in different languages.
- Look at a prayer or religious text in a different language.
- Visit our Languages section for lots of resources you can use in your lessons, like this French Family Poster.
- Play this simple game in the language you are learning to help children learn how to tell someone their name correctly.
- Research how many languages are spoken in your class and/or school. Design a poster to show the information.
- Learn simple greetings in different languages and practice using them in pairs.
- Play a simple game using words from another language. For example, translate the colour words in “Traffic lights”.
- Ask a language specialist from your local secondary school to give the children a taster of a European language.
- Find out about the similarities and differences of the school day in other countries. Use the appropriate vocabulary for the country for things like “break time” or “homework”.
- Play this fun game and try to identify different languages from a choice of options.
- Put the children into pairs and give them the same phrase in two different languages to learn. The next day, ask them to teach each other their phrases.
- Try saying tongue twisters in a different language: This page has some great simple Spanish ones, for example.
- Design a crossword or word search in a different language.
- Learn some sign language. This is a great video of children teaching some words and phrases in British Sign Language that you could use.
- Ask the question: What would happen if we all spoke the same language? What would be the benefits? What would be the disadvantages? How would the world be different?
- Learn the words to describe feelings and emotions in another language.
- Take the class register in another language.
- Learn how to greet someone politely in different languages.