Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD has today launched a new Modern Languages Policy aimed at ensuring Ireland gains a competitive foothold in global and European markets in a post-Brexit landscape.

The policy recognises the importance of modern languages for supporting Ireland’s ability to trade internationally, to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and in particular to take full advantage of the employment opportunities offered by multinational companies.

Deputy Byrne said, “Ireland needs a robust policy on international languages – one that is dedicated, realistic and achievable. Unfortunately this Government has failed to provide any comprehensive vision that would transform modern language education in this country.

“Fine Gael has been in Government since 2011 but has yet to seriously address the glaring deficiencies in international language teaching in Ireland. Indeed they have taken steps, such as abolishing the Modern Languages in Primary School Initiative, which have hampered language education.

“Fianna Fáil’s policy document aims to overhaul the teaching of modern languages to help cultivate lifelong language learning, which ultimately fosters greater engagement with other cultures at home and abroad.

“The policy focuses on the need to teach modern languages from an early age. This will be achieved by promoting bilingual immersion for three to five year-olds participating in the ECCE scheme in preschool. We will also re-establish the Modern Languages in Primary School Initiative to help ensure children have a basic understanding of languages before entering secondary school.

“We will also make the learning of an international language to Leaving Certificate compulsory. We will introduce new core languages such as Russian and Portuguese to the Junior Certificate cycle to broaden the options to available to students. Fianna Fáil is also committed to rolling out Mandarin as a full Leaving Certificate exam subject and award additional points to learners taking it at Higher Level.

“This policy recognises the need to enhance teacher training for modern languages and this will be achieved through the subsidisation of additional in-service courses overseas for secondary teachers to aid their understanding of language teaching.

“Our proposals seek to strategically address the deficit in our education system and will ensure Ireland is well placed to deal with the fallout associated with Brexit,” concluded Deputy Byrne.

Revitalising Modern Language Education in Ireland