New policy prioritises teaching foreign languages

worldThe Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton has launched the government’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026. The plan sets out a roadmap to put Ireland in the top ten countries in Europe for the teaching and learning of foreign languages, through a number of measures targeted at improving proficiency, diversity and immersion.

In the context of Brexit and the increasing importance globally of non-English speaking countries, the minister said that the government is taking action to ensure Ireland is well prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Once the UK leaves the EU, Ireland will be one of only two English speaking countries in the Union.

The teaching of the Irish language from an early age, mean that children are exposed to bilingualism from a young age. Ireland’s position as a small, open economy at the centre of the world, also puts the country in a unique position. This strategy aims to maximise the state’s assets, by ensuring our education and training service is well equipped to respond to a changing global environment.

Main points of the Foreign Languages Strategy:

• Increase post-primary schools offering two or more foreign languages by 25%

• Increase students sitting two languages at Junior Cert and Leaving Cert by 25%

• Increase students in higher education studying a foreign language by 20%

• Increase participants in Erasmus+ by 50%

• Double numbers in teacher mobility programmes

• Double the number of foreign language assistants

• Improve learners’ attitude to foreign language learning

• Improve the quality of foreign language teaching at all levels

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