A bilingual sign in French and Breton.


Written by Rebecca Schmor

This blog post focuses on the endangered minority language of Breton. Since awareness of languages helps preserve them, the suggested activity for students is to write MORE blog posts about the Breton language and help spread the word. Here are five important things to know about Breton.

1. Breton is the only living Celtic language on the European mainland

Breton is a language spoken in the modern-day region of Brittany, France. It belongs to the Celtic family, along with Cornish, Irish, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, and Welsh. Brought over to the European mainland by the Britons before the 10th century, Breton is the only insular Celtic language still spoken outside of the British Isles.

2. Breton is the only Celtic language without official recognition

In France, Breton does not have any official status, making it the only living Celtic language not officially recognized by a governing body. Article 8 of the Irish Constitution, ratified in 1937, states that Irish is the first official language and that English is a second official language. Irish is also a working language of the European Union. Cornish was officially recognized by the government of the United Kingdom in 2002. The government of Scotland passed an act in 2005 to secure the status of Scottish Gaelic. Welsh was officially legislated in 2011. And the revived Celtic language, Manx, is listed as an official language on the Isle of Man. Although Breton is widely recognized as an established minority language, France is not a current signatory to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, so Breton still lacks official status and protection.

Saint-Malo in Brittany, France
The city of Saint-Malo in the region of Brittany, France, where Breton is spoken.

3. Breton is a severely endangered language

Lacking official recognition in education and public life, Breton’s more than 1500-year history has recently become threatened by a steep decline in speakers. It is currently categorized as a severely endangered language by the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. Down from over a million speakers before 1950, today’s 200,000 Breton users are now at risk of their language becoming extinct.

4. Breton is a language of resistance

Despite being classified as a severely endangered language, non-official preservation and revitalization efforts have contributed to the vitality of the Breton language in resisting extinction. Despite historical policies to ban the language at school and punish children for speaking it, an increasing number of children are attending bilingual Breton schools in France. Though it is still illegal for official signage to be in Breton only, bilingual signs can be seen around Brittany. In recent years, parents have successfully taken the French government to court for banning them from giving their children a Breton name.

“Komz a rit brezhoneg?” (“Do you speak Breton?”)
Speech bubble with the words “Komz a rit brezhoneg?” (“Do you speak Breton?”).

5. Breton can be revitalized

Promising Breton revitalization efforts are underway, including the development of a Breton language Wikipedia in 2004, the inclusion of Breton as an interface language on Facebook in 2014, and a winning song in Breton at Eurovision France in 2022. Breton was also the language of France’s entry in Eurovision in 1996.

Breton also has a notable literary revival movement, and a long history of texts written in Breton. In fact, the oldest surviving Breton manuscript predates the earliest French text by more than a century, and the first French dictionary (the Catholicon) was also the first Breton dictionary. Despite historical attempts to replace Breton with French, Breton has resisted and can continue to be revitalized.

Promoting the Breton Language: Co-Writing a Blog Post

Activity Description

In this activity, learners are invited to write a blog post promoting the Breton language in celebration of International Mother Language Day. This activity is designed for intermediate or advanced language learners at the high school level or higher but can be adapted to other language levels or contexts. Other possible adaptations include selecting a language other than Breton, inviting learners to choose their own language(s) to research, or changing the format of the final task. For example, instead of a blog post, learners could create a poster for an event.

Activity Steps

The first two steps can be conducted as a class or assigned to groups or individual students.

  1. Conduct research on International Mother Language Day to understand why it was created and how it supports minority language education. UNESCO’s Multilingual Education — A Pillar of Learning and Intergenerational Learningmay be a useful starting point.
  2. Learn more about the Breton language. For inspiration, you can draw on the information in this blog post or from Internet sources such as 7 things you need to know about the Breton language.
  3. Write a blog post to promote the Breton language in celebration of International Mother Language Day. You may want to include a brief history of the Breton language, how Breton compares to other Celtic languages, and why it is important to preserve minority languages like Breton.
  4. Promote your blog! Share a link to your blog post on social media. Make sure to include a caption to draw attention to the Breton language and International Mother Language Day.

Activity Commentary

This activity promotes appreciation of linguistic diversity and awareness of international efforts to protect minority languages. Collaborative writing encourages “translanguaging” (Piccardo et al., 2021) as students must discuss and agree on word choices, grammatical structures, and cross-linguistic nuanced meaning while writing with others in a target language.

The activity steps also allow for student autonomy and teacher scaffolding based on specific learning goals and emerging learner needs. For example, learners could exchange drafts and provide peer feedback between steps 3 and 4, or the teacher could write reformulations (Brooks & Swain, 2009) of the posts for learners to analyze in comparison with their original drafts. The class could also vote on a “top” post, and/or submit the blog posts for publication on a school website or other outlet. The authenticity of the final task can motivate learners to produce a high-quality blog post to be published online.


Brooks, L., & Swain, M. (2009). Languaging in collaborative writing: Creation of and response to expertise. In A. Mackey & C. Polio (Eds.), Multiple perspectives on interaction: Second Language Research in Honor of Susan M. Gass (pp. 64–95). Routledge.

Piccardo, E., Germain-Rutherford, A., & Lawrence, G. (Eds.). (2021). The Routledge handbook of plurilingual language education. Routledge.


Become a Member

CASLT supports its members by creating opportunities for professional development, initiating and disseminating research, and facilitating the exchange of information and ideas among language educators. Memberships start at only $45 per year!

Compare Membership Categories Sign up today
Enable Cookies

Some of our forms require cookies to be enabled in your browser settings. Consult these instructions for assistance.

Certains de nos formulaires nécessitent l’activation des cookies dans les paramètres de votre navigateur. Consultez ces instructions pour obtenir de l’aide.