#ThinkLanguages Champion Team
of the Year Announced
Our Lady’s Bower Secondary School are #ThinkLanguages Champion Team of the Year!
The national final of the #ThinkLanguages Champion Team of the Year competition took place today at The Clock Tower in the Department of Education, where transition year students of Our Lady’s Bower Secondary School, Athlone were crowned winners, taking home the title as well as an amazing prize of a trip to Brussels. The Minister for Education, Norma Foley T.D, was in attendance to congratulate the finalists – Killarney Community College, Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School, Waterford and Our Lady’s Bower Secondary School – and present this year’s award, which recognises the contribution of students to the promotion of the many personal, professional and social benefits of foreign language skills during #ThinkLanguages week.
Speaking about the event, Minister Foley said: “I am delighted to present this prize for the #ThinkLanguages Champion Team to Our Lady’s Bower Secondary School. All the schools involved have shown great creativity, teamwork and enthusiasm for languages and the competition was fierce. I want to congratulate the three finalists for being chosen as Champion Teams”
The #ThinkLanguages Champion of Team of the Year competition runs alongside the annual national #ThinkLanguages festival, which was celebrated by over 15,000 TY students in 180 schools across Ireland during the week of 28 November to 1 December 2023. The student-led celebration of languages and cultures brings to life the many benefits of foreign language skills with each participating school creating an impressive lineup of fun activities such as language-based workshops, insightful talks, music, dance, film and much more.
Minister Foley added: “The Department is committed to increasing and diversifying the foreign languages taught and learnt in our schools and I know that through participation in the #ThinkLanguages event, TY students will gain an appreciation of the benefits of learning languages, not only for future career options in a globalised world, but for social and cultural interactions”.
To enter the competition, Champion Teams provided an overview of their school’s planned lineup of activity, with ten schools selected for a judge’s visit. The standard of events around the country was extremely high in 2023, with the judges having a difficult time choosing three finalists. The themes for #ThinkLanguages 2023 revolved around how language learning can boost life skills, create greater experiences in life, open global work opportunities, and help build a wider circle of friends. The three finalists stood out across all categories, with each demonstrating a thorough understanding of these themes both within their schools’ event and their final presentation.
This year’s prize is being supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and its A Career for EU Strategy in recognition of the importance of multilingual Irish representation in Europe. Our Lady’s Bower now have the opportunity to visit the heart of Europe, Brussels, to see a multitude of languages in action at European Institutions, learning all about what a career in the EU looks like including day-to-day life in one of Europe’s most multicultural cities.
Peter Burke TD, Minister of State for European Affairs and Defence commented, ‘I would encourage the students participating in #ThinkLanguages to keep up their language studies at third level and beyond. There are a large number of exciting opportunities for young people to pursue careers in EU institutions such as the European Parliament or European Commission, and having a second EU language is vital for pursuing these careers. Both English and Irish (as well as French, Spanish, German, Polish, etc) are among the 24 official EU languages.
‘The work of the EU is wide-ranging, so it recruits people with a variety of skill sets and backgrounds such as (but not limited to) law, science, economics, agriculture, technology and languages. It is a rewarding career path in which you would work to improve the lives of 450 million EU citizens, and your interest in languages will certainly help you to get there.’
#ThinkLanguages 2024 – Save the Date!
Interested in getting involved next year? #ThinkLanguages Week will return in 2024 for the seventh year of celebrations during the week of 18-22 November 2024, remaining in the week-long format which was introduced in 2023 to suit as many schools as possible. More details will be announced in the coming months so be sure to check out Languages Connect social media and the website.