The Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD launched a consultation on foreign languages in Irish education at the end of August 2014. As part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2014, the Department of Education and Skills has committed to developing and publishing a languages strategy. This will consider the role of foreign languages in the post-primary, further and higher education sectors.
The consultations will allow key stakeholders to have an input into the strategy’s development. They are being invited to comment on a two-part consultation document, which is available on the Department’s website (please see links below). The first part sets out the overall context, whilst the second part provides a series of questions for consideration.
The consultation document recognises the importance of immigrant languages in Ireland, due to the fact that over 10% of the population are immigrants. The 2011 census found that over half a million people spoke a language other than Irish or English at home. Polish, followed by Lithuanian were the most common European languages, with Filipino and Mandarin Chinese the most common languages spoken by Asians now living in Ireland. Other data show that, for example, in our post-primary schools approximately 12% of students were born outside of Ireland. Our immigrants are providing us with a rich and diverse source of languages. These communities need to be supported in maintaining their own languages, which constitute a new national resource, as yet largely untapped, for Ireland.
The consultation therefore requests input from key stakeholders to answer questions regarding, amongst others, how to support migrant languages in educational settings. More particularly, how can we encourage our migrant children to become proficient in the language of their adopted community, while at the same time maintaining oral, written and cognitive academic language proficiency in their own mother tongue?
Feedback can be submitted until the end of October, via email or post. A forum will be organised to discuss the main points arising from the process. It is expected that the strategy will be finalised by summer 2015.
Consultation document: Framework For Consultation On A Foreign Languages In Education Strategy For Ireland
Submissions can be made via email: email@example.com
or post to: Tim O’Keeffe, Department of Education and Skills, Marlborough Street, Dublin 1.
See the SIRIUS Stakeholder report on the promotion of multilingualism among immigrants for the SIRIUS take on this.