Speaking and understanding one another’s language is a fundamental prerequisite for being able to live together in a Europe without dividing lines. To assist in this challenge, the Council of Europe has created, in 1995 in Graz (Austria), the European Centre for Modern Languages - a unique institution whose mission is to encourage excellence and innovation in language teaching and to help Europeans learn languages more efficiently.
The ECML's objectives are to help its member states implement effective language teaching policies by focusing on the practice of the learning and teaching of languages, promoting dialogue and exchange among those active in the field, training multipliers and supporting programme-related networks and research projects.
Basing its work on the underlying values of the Council of Europe and its pioneering work in language education, the ECML is ideally equipped to act as a catalyst for reform in the teaching and learning of languages.
At the initiative of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, the European Day of Languages has been celebrated every year since 2001 on 26 September. In 2011, the Council of Europe celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Day.
Throughout Europe, 800 million Europeans represented in the Council of Europe's 47 member states are encouraged to learn more languages, at any age, in and out of school.
Being convinced that linguistic diversity is a tool for achieving greater intercultural understanding and a key element in the rich cultural heritage of our continent, the Council of Europe promotes plurilingualism in the whole of Europe.
15 years of productive cooperation
''The European Centre for Modern Languages acts like a catalyst and provides means of support for educational change within its 34 member states'' stressed Director General of Education, Culture, Heritage, Youth and Sport of the Council of Europe, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, during the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Centre, on 1 July in Graz. The Austrian authorities unanimously praised the achievements of the Centre. Being a ''success story,'' for Claudia Schmied, ''plurilingualism'' in globalised societies is “more important than ever.''