European Day of Languages Celebrated in Turku on 25 September
Students Mervi De Heer and Tomi Koivunen from the University of Turku as well as newly graduated Marianna Ivanova introduced Udmurt to the pupils at the language café.

​The European Day of Languages was held for the 14th time around Europe. The purpose of the celebration is to encourage everyone living in the EU to study and use other European languages.

This year, the representation of the European Commission in Finland organised the national event in the Hansa shopping centre in Turku together with several higher education institutions, organisations and companies. The School of Languages and Translation Studies of the University of Turku participated in the event by organising a language café for pupils and offering a chance to try out subtitling a TV programme.

Language Café Offered Tasters of the Finno-Ugric Languages

At the European Day of Languages, the students and staff of the School of Languages and Translation Studies  introduced European and Finno-Ugric languages to pupils. Students of French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Hungarian and Udmurt from the University of Turku participated in the café.

Students of the Finno-Ugric Languages Mervi De Heer and Tomi Koivunen were asked to talk about Udmurt, a cognate language to Finnish and a member of the Finno-Ugric language group.

– We told the pupils about the characteristics of the language, its geographical location and the number of the speakers, which is hundreds of thousands. Some of the pupils recognised Udmurt by name and many remembered it from the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, when the Russian representative Buranovskiye Babushki singing in Udmurt came in second, said Koivunen.

The pupils who visited their stand were excited about the language.

– This was a very positive experience and the pupils were interested in Udmurt. It's great that they have a chance to try both dominant and minority languages here in the language café. Learning about the Finno-Ugric languages is important and it is also part of the national curriculum, so we were happy to participate in the European Day of Languages, said De Heer.

A Peek into the World of Subtitling

In addition to the language café, the School of Languages and Translation Studies organised a chance to try audiovisual translation, i.e. subtitling . Students and University Lecturer in Multilingual Translation Studies Tiina Holopainen from the University of Turku instructed the pupils as well as others who were interested in the topic.

– The pupils tried out audiovisual translation eagerly and were clearly engrossed in it. It was also nice to watch how they interacted with the students. We subtitled TV programmes from English and Swedish into Finnish as well as from English into Russian, said Holopainen.


The pupils were eager test their skills and they understood and followed the guidance provided by the students.

– Most of the pupils' questions were about register, i.e. do they have to use standard language or can they use colloquialisms in their translations, said student of German translation studies Antti Ikonen, who was one of the students helping the pupils.

– In the European Day of Languages, we had a chance to tell the public about professional audiovisual translation, as people often perceive all translation through school exercises, stated Holopainen.


Zodiac Center for New Dance demonstrated their TALK project, which combines art and movement in language learning. The pupils had a chance to try their active learning methods at the European Day of Languages.

Benjamin performed at the event and, in his interview, stressed the importance of languages.


The programme also included discussions on the importance of language learning and language skills, for example, from the point of view of the business world. Host Lasse Lähteenmäki interviews Kai Kajala from DSV Global Transport and Logistics.


Kristina Raiko sang in Spanish and Swedish in between the discussions.

In addition to the University of Turku, the event was organised jointly by the representation of the European Commission in Finland, Europe Direct in Southwest Finland, the Federation of Foreign Language Teachers in Finland SUKOL, Åbo Akademi University, Turku City Library, Turku Adult Education Centre, the Swedish Adult Education Center of Åbo, the Summer University of Turku, EURES employment services, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, Schuman Society, Lingsoft and the Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters (SKTL).

Mari Ratia
Photos: Hanna Oksanen and Mari Ratia

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Published date 9/29/2015 3:40 PM ,  Modified date 9/29/2015 3:45 PM

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