Every year on April 23, the United Nations (UN) leads the world in celebrating English Language Day. The result of a 2010 initiative by the Department of Global Communications, English Language Day is observed on April 23 because the date has long been recognized as William Shakespeare’s birthday and the day of his death.
English is one of the UN’s two working languages, along with French. It is also one of the UN’s six official languages, joined by Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish.
The UN states that the purpose of language days, including English Language Day, is “to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six official languages throughout the Organization.” The organization believes that by promoting the use of its official languages, they can reach the widest global audience.
In addition to observing English Language Day, the UN offers an English Language Programme (ELP) in order to promote linguistic balance among its staff. Housed at UN Headquarters, the ELP is designed to improve overall proficiency in the English language.
For those in the general public, the British Council is offering a free eight-week course designed for non-native English speakers interested in improving their English language skills. The course also gives students the opportunity to learn about the life and works of William Shakespeare.
For more information, visit https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/explore-english-shakespeare