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Science Week

It’s Science Week 2019 and no better time to talk about the many reasons why languages and science subjects are such a great combination!

In this article, ‘science’ is used as a broad term for all STEM, Medicine, Veterinary, etc subjects.



Courses in Ireland

The choice of courses that combine science subjects and foreign languages is diverse and growing every year. How about Korean and Computer Science? Music Technology and Chinese? Biomedical Science and Spanish? These combinations are all available to study now in Ireland! Try out the Careers Portal Language Filter to see which courses offer the languages and subjects you are interested in.


Most science courses also require students to do a year of work placement during their 3rd year. If you have a foreign language, you could do this placement abroad, giving you further insights and ideas on how your subject plays out in the real world.


Courses Abroad

Doing a work placement or study abroad with a science subject will also prepare you for working with an international team of colleagues which is often the case in science-based careers, further study and research. Experience abroad also makes you more appealing to employers as it shows that you have skills such as resilience, adaptability, risk-taking, confidence and more.


There are also many reasons to do your whole degree abroad!


While Ireland has many great universities and science courses, if you look outside of Ireland, the science courses available to you are more numerous, diverse and specialised.


If you are worried about not keeping up in class because of a language barrier – don’t! Many universities now offer science subjects in English and have English speaking staff making the application process a breeze. So, you can benefit from learning a new language in a fun, relaxed way with friends but do your course work in English.

Grants and Scholarships

There are many grants and scholarships for students who want to study abroad, especially those looking to study science subjects. Talk to career guidance counsellors, universities and embassies for more information on grants and scholarships for studying abroad.


Information on studying abroad:

Why studying abroad can be a viable option – Irish Times Article October 2019

Grad Ireland – Info for Studying Abroad

Susi – Students studying outside the state

Citizen’s Information on Studying Abroad


Use these links to search for science courses and study grants in different countries:

European University Central Application Support Service

DAAD – Study and Research in Germany

Campus France Ireland

Campus France

Study in Japan



Scientific Research and Languages 

Since the earliest discoveries in scientific fields, international communication and cooperation have been integral to progressing science as a whole. Being able to communicate discoveries and information to scientists, engineers and doctors in other countries means their work and research becomes more accurate and effective. Today, it is just as important that we are able to communicate in many languages in scientific fields. There are countless examples; A disease outbreak that doctors in South America need to communicate as quickly as possible to doctors in the USA; An Irish scientist developing new sustainable energy technology thanks to the findings of a study they read in a German science journal.


Languages in Science Careers

Having a foreign language and experience studying abroad, will not only increase the number of jobs available to you but also increase the amount you can be paid. Studying a language diversifies your skillset. For example, if you are trying to break into a new field where you don’t have much experience, but they want someone with the language you studied, you can be hired because of that and learn while working.


There are so many different careers within science that require some knowledge of a foreign language. Think of how many researchers go to universities in other countries to carry out projects. Or how many zoologists or ecologists travel the world for their work.


Of course, many scientists don’t speak other languages, especially if they are native English speakers, however, they still need to access information and research from around the world. Scientific Translation is carried out by those who have a deep understanding of the technicalities of both science and language. Translation in specialised fields like science is usually very highly paid work.



Being able to speak French benefited Ciaran MacSamhráin in his career as an engineer.

Having German and Spanish allowed Dr. Fergal Donnelly to work in the European Commission overseeing which new medicines should be allowed to enter Ireland.


For specific info on languages in different career sectors within science, go to or click the links below:

Read about career opportunities with a Foreign Language in …

Biological, Chemical & Pharmaceutical Science

Biomedical Technologies & Medtech

Computers & ICT

Construction, Architecture & Property

Earth & Environment

Engineering & Manufacturing

Physics, Mathematics & Space Science

Medical & Healthcare


Climate Change

Environmental scientists are one of the key groups identifying issues and suggesting changes that will slow climate change. Foreign Language skills are essential for communicating issues and findings relating to this worldwide issue.

Climate change is something that is already beginning to drastically affect people in locations around the globe. These people are already losing their homes and having to move to relatively stable countries like Ireland. This is something that will affect us all, scientists or not. As this continues, being able to speak foreign languages and understand different cultures will be a major factor in managing this mass migration both on an international, political level and on an individual, interpersonal level.


Science Foundation Ireland Partnership with National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to research climate change:


Science, Languages and You

Pursuing studies or a career in science means that you will have the knowledge and skills to create real, positive changes in the world. But, science is not about sitting in a lab all day.  It’s about collaborating and sharing knowledge with people all over the world and for that, you need foreign languages and cultural understanding. So, no matter what stage of your life you are at, if you are interested in science you can benefit in countless ways from studying a language.


Check out Smart Future, Science Foundation Ireland for more info on Science Week!