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Multilingualism Day to launch in Brussels this weekend
The Brussels Council for Multilingualism will officially launch this Saturday at the capital’s parliament, during the inaugural Multilingualism Day. Both events are part of a push to encourage language learning in the capital, overseen by Sven Gatz, Brussels’ government minister tasked with promoting multilingualism.
Brussels has 1.2 million inhabitants, comprising 180 nationalities speaking more than 100 languages. Multilingualism is therefore seen as an important part of the capital’s identity, and a priority for education, employment and civic life.
Gatz is the first minister in the Brussels regional government to be given responsibility for promoting multilingualism. He published a policy document on the issue in December, including proposals to establish a Council for Multilingualism and the Multilingualism Day.
The council will bring together school staff, academics and others involved in multilingualism to share information about initiatives already underway, and to identify any gaps that need filling. It is also expected to address issues such as the importance of languages spoken at home in education, and promotion of multilingualism in Brussels’ civil society organisations.
The aim of Multilingualism Day is to create a forum for people to present their initiatives and exchange ideas on language learning, and also to give a practical taste of the language-learning experience.
In the morning, Gatz will launch the Council for Multilingualism, followed by an online Q&A about its work and the policy more broadly. He will also present BeTalky, the label the city will use for its language-learning activities.
The afternoon programme includes conversation roundtables where people can exchange languages. Thanks to the coronavirus, physical attendance will be limited, but the aim is to livestream the event and to create space online for language exchanges.
The event coincides with the European Parliament’s annual Multilingualism Day, which promotes the work of the institution’s translators and interpreters. Gatz will also represent the city at this event.
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