The European Commission organised the conference on ‘Multilingualism in Europe’ in Limassol, Cyprus from 26 to 28 September 2012, an event which marked the 10th anniversary of the 2002 Barcelona European Council. This called for the teaching of two foreign languages from a very early age and for the development of a linguistic competence indicator to measure progress in language learning.
To further mark the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona objectives, the Commission decided to organise a Language Label Award at European level, entitled ‘European Language Label of the Labels Awards’, in addition to the awards at national level. A nominee from each country put up an expo-pavilion presenting their nominated European Language Label project and Malta was represented by Easy School of Languages which was awarded the European Language Label in 2012 for their project entitled “An all sensory experience: Learning English the Easy way”. The Label has been awarded to the most innovative language learning projects in each country participating in the scheme. It is co-ordinated by the European Commission, but managed by the individual Member States, with national juries deciding on detailed criteria. In Malta the award is managed by the European Union Programmes Agency (EUPA).
The awards were presented by Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, for outstanding projects which in the last decade have promoted innovative teaching and learning of languages in Europe. The importance of different languages in Europe was highlighted, as Ms Vassiliou said, “To put it very simply, if we begin to lose interest in learning other people’s languages – and if we no longer try to imitate our neighbours in this very natural and healthy way – then we no longer enter into their world, and do not empathise with their thoughts and feelings. This, I believe, is the most profound and urgent reason why Europe, perhaps more than ever before, must encourage its people to learn new languages. It continues our historic mission to bring peace to our peoples.” She went on to say that in the beginning of her speech she “asked the question of whether language’s still matter. In the eyes of our citizens, languages have never been as important as they are today. The European Commission could not agree more.”
The conference was organised by the European Commission, Directorate General Education and Culture, Multilingualism Policy Unit, in cooperation with Directorate General Translation and Directorate General Interpretation.