20 November, 2018 - Minister McHugh attends #ThinkLanguages event for Transition Year Students

Government prioritises teaching of foreign languages in context of Brexit

Campaign to increase number of students taking foreign languages at Leaving Certificate

The Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh, T.D. today (Tuesday 20th November 2018) attended the #ThinkLanguages event for Transition Year (TY) students in Dublin Castle. The event has been organised by the Post Primary Languages Initiative to increase awareness about the importance of language learning as set out in Languages Connect – Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017 - 2026.

Students attending #ThinkLanguages come from schools all over the country including Donegal, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Limerick, Westmeath, Wicklow, and Dublin. The aim of the day is to show students how useful languages are for a wide variety of careers, and to encourage them to choose a language as one of their Leaving Certificate subjects.

The keynote speaker is James Hart, a Munster Rugby player, who has played for two French rugby clubs, Grenoble and the Parisian club Racing 92. Other inspirational speakers include Sgt McInerney from the Garda Diversity Unit and engineer Declan O'Loughlin, both of whom have careers that have benefitted from having great language skills.

All participants will experience what it is like to be at an international conference and be dependent on an interpreter, using the interpreting facilities in Dublin Castle Conference Centre. Other highlights will include entertainment by a Taiko drum team facilitated by Nobuko Ijichi and a tasting session of international cuisine. There will be quizzes on an app to facilitate engagement with videos which showcase the value of foreign languages for work, and which encourage students to get the most out of the day.

The event also includes an exhibition space, where students can speak to people about how to improve their languages, and discover how languages fit in with their dream job.

The opportunity to experience two different taster workshops in foreign languages and cultural activities will be a highlight. The workshops are facilitated by experts and include Irish Sign Language, Spanish and Salsa, Portuguese Capoeira, Italian, Polish and Russian language taster classes, Japanese origami, Japanese dance, Chinese calligraphy and Politics and Languages.

Attending the event, Minister McHugh said “I am delighted to see so many Transition Year students here today to experience the wide range of languages on show. I consider the learning of Foreign Languages as a key priority, particularly post-Brexit, and we all need to encourage our students to take up and continue learning foreign languages so that Ireland can meet the increasing demands of a global economy”.



Notes for Editors

Languages Connect - Irelands Strategy for Foreign Languages inEducation sets out a roadmap to put Ireland in the top ten countries in Europe for the teaching and learning of foreign languages, through 100 actions targeted at improving efficiency, diversity and immersion. A Foreign Languages Advisory Group (FLAG) has been established to oversee and drive implementation of the strategy, including increasing awareness of the benefits of language learning. The Post Primary Languages Initiative (PPLI) are a key stakeholder in the implementation of the Strategy.

Other areas where progress is being made under the strategy include:


  • An Audit of foreign language provision in schools has been completed by the Post-Primary Languages Initiative (PPLI);
  • New Junior Cycle subject specifications for Modern Foreign Languages (French, German, Spanish and Italian), which have an increased emphasis on oral language and project work, have been introduced to schools and will be examined for the first time in 2020;
  • Junior Cycle short courses in Chinese Language and Culture, Japanese, Russian, Polish as a heritage language and in Lithuanian as a heritage language have been made available to schools and support one of the main aims of the strategy, which is to diversify the range of languages available to students in post-primary school.

The Polish course is currently being piloted by the PPLI, and the Lithuanian course is being piloted since September 2018 in schools that have expressed an interest

  • Korean has been introduced as a TY module in a number of schools for the first time since September 2018, with teachers deployed by the PPLI to the schools.
  • The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) have commenced work on developing a subject specification for Leaving Certificate Mandarin Chinese for introduction to schools in September 2020;
  • Leaving Certificate subject specifications for heritage languages (Lithuanian, Polish and Portuguese) – aimed at mother-tongue speakers of these languages, will also be developed by the NCCA for introduction to schools from September 2020;
  • Support to teachers who wish to upskill in languages that they are not currently teaching.
  • Support to schools to increase participation in foreign-exchanges.

The Foreign Languages Strategy is also available on the Department’s website at: Foreign Languages Strategy Webpage

Further information and resources are available on www.languagesconnect.ie