School leaders

 

Languages Connect is an integral part of the 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, Minister Bruton is taking action to ensure Ireland is well prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, Ireland will be one of only two English speaking countries in the Union. This Strategy is crucial to ensuring Ireland is prepared for a changed European dynamic.

These challenges also provide opportunities. The teaching of the Irish language from an early age, means our children are exposed to bilingualism from a young age. Our position as a small, open economy at the centre of the world, also puts us in a unique position. This Strategy will allow us to maximise our assets, by ensuring our education and training service is well equipped to respond to a changing global environment.

Under the Foreign Languages Strategy we will

  • Increase the number of post-primary schools offering two or more foreign languages by 25%
  • Increase the number of students sitting two languages at Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate by 25%
  • Increase the number of students in higher education studying a foreign language, in any capacity, as part of their course, by 20%
  • Increase the number of participants in Erasmus+ by 50%
  • Double the number of teachers participating in teacher mobility programmes
  • Double the number of foreign language assistants in schools
  • Improve learners’ attitude to foreign language learning
  • Improve the quality of foreign language teaching at all levels

There are 100 actions in the Strategy, including

  • Introduce Mandarin Chinese as a Leaving Certificate subject
  • Introduce curricular specifications for heritage speakers for Polish, Lithuanian and Portuguese
  • Develop a range of short courses in languages for Junior Cycle
  • Explore the potential for introducing bonus points at Leaving Certificate for studying foreign languages in cases where students apply for higher education courses in language-related areas
  • Enhance employer engagement in the development of new trade languages
  • Increase the opportunities for short-term teacher exchanges for post-primary teachers
  • Carry out periodic surveys of students’ attitudes and experiences of foreign language learning
  • Incentivise schools to diversify their language offer, including by means of concessionary hours, where appropriate
  • Progress pilot programme for co-operation with foreign-owned companies, or indigenous companies with a foreign presence, to enable students in Further Education and Training and Higher Education to do work placements in the parent country
  • Implement the newly developed Junior Cycle short course in Lithuanian
  • Appoint “language champions” from business and other sectors to demonstrate the opportunities available for graduates with foreign language competences
  • Develop new models of delivering language teaching, such as shared classes and blended learning. This will allow students who are part of small immigrant communities, within specific schools, to develop their heritage language skills

Implementation of this ambitious strategy will require significant changes to how foreign languages have been taught in the past and will require extra resources. The Minister is confident that the correct policies will be put in place under this strategy to increase the number of foreign language teachers.

The strategy contains a number of actions to ensure we have a steady supply of teachers to deliver on the ambition of the Strategy, such as:

  • A baseline data collection exercise to understand current supply of foreign language teachers
  • Research to identify future language needs, with the aim of ensuring provision and uptake in line with those needs
  • Identify teachers who are qualified to teach a foreign language but who may not have had the opportunity to teach that language in their schools. Provide opportunities and incentives for these teachers to upskill by means of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) or post-graduate courses
  • Consider the possibility of a post-graduate programme for teachers, with a language, who may be able to learn another language
  • Explore the potential for alternative, flexible models such as blended learning (a combination of face-to-face teaching with computer technology), clustering learners, and evening /weekend classes
  • Incentivise schools to diversify their language offer, including by means of concessionary hours, where appropriate

CPD / Upskilling for teachers

What is the MFL Teacher Upskilling Scheme?

The MFL Teacher Upskilling Scheme has been developed under Action 2.A.3. of the Department of Education and Skills strategy ‘Languages Connect: Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026’. The MFL Teacher Upskilling Scheme enables Post-Primary schools / MFL Teachers to apply for funding to upskill teachers qualified in a language they are not currently teaching and which they can introduce and develop in a school to build additional language teaching capacity.

Post-Primary Languages Initiative (PPLI) is administering the scheme which is available to all Post-Primary schools.

The overall goal is to increase and diversify languages provision in Post-Primary schools. The MFL Teacher Upskilling Scheme intends to support schools introducing and developing curricular languages in the school.

 

For more information:

Post-primary MLF Teacher Languages Upskilling Scheme – click here

Funding for School Exchanges Scheme

As part of raising awareness of the value of learning foreign languages and of the value of spending time abroad, schools are being offered the opportunity to apply for funding as part of a new Funding for School Exchanges Scheme. Ten schools will be awarded €15,000 each to contribute towards exchange costs such as flights, to offer scholarships to students who would not otherwise be able to participate, or for other needs that the school identifies as contributing towards language learning on the exchange. Skills developed through taking part in language exchanges which include adaptability, problem-solving, networking and communication skills as well as actual language skills, are necessary in order for students to develop and thrive in the future as well as to find employment.

 

For more information:

Languages Connect: How-to Manual and Toolkit for School Exchanges – click here

PPLI Funding for School Exchanges Scheme – click here

PPLI Guidelines for PP MFL Teacher Upskilling Scheme – click here.

#THINKLANGUAGES TY Languages Fair – click here

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Only 6.5%
of the world’s population are native English speakers