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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
Vilnius launches 'language buses'
By Laura Sheeter
BBC News

A trolleybus in Vilnius
The EU project will be pioneered on Vilnius trolleybuses
A scheme to teach people foreign languages while they travel is starting in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

The so-called "language buses" will play useful phrases in Lithuanian, Polish and English in an attempt to encourage people to learn new skills.

The project is being funded by the European Commission.

It will also be coming to buses, trams and trains all over the European Union by the end of 2006. The scheme will run for a year.

Free language lessons

Most trolleybuses in Vilnius sound like buses anywhere else in the world.

But - starting this week - step on to some of the city's buses and you will find things are very different.

On particular routes you can find "language buses" which will teach you English and Polish while you travel.

Inside the otherwise normal trolleybus, passengers will find worksheets for them to complete, and - as well as the usual announcement for the next stop - they will be played useful phrases in Lithuanian, English and Polish.

If they are really keen, travellers can even hand in their work to be marked - good students can win a course of free language lessons.

The project will soon be spreading across the EU.

In Hamburg, Turkish as well as English will be played on the underground; trains in Milan will play Spanish to commuters; and bus passengers in Malta and Romania can learn Italian while they are on the road.

On Vilnius' trolleybuses they say one year is enough time for them to teach people how to introduce themselves, ask for directions, and - eventually - to ask if they can get off the bus.

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