Twenty-Five Years of Language Policies and Initiatives in Ireland: 1995-2020
Keywords:education, policy, Modern Foreign Languages, Irish, Europe
Ireland is a multilingual country, home to at least 212 languages, as well as English, the Irish language - the oldest language in Europe still spoken as a vernacular - and our native Irish Sign Language, whose users’ rights have only recently been signed into law. This paper will consider the main issues in language education in Ireland today from primary to third level, together with the economic, geopolitical and cultural forces which influence the ways in which we engage in communication both at home and abroad. Following a brief examination of the history which has led us to this point, it will review a number of European policies which continue to shape the manner in which both Irish and Modern Foreign Languages are learned and taught in present-day Ireland. Finally, it will assess recent policies/strategies and initiatives published by Government, the strengths and weaknesses of language education here today, and propose some measures which could boost our national languages capacity in a world which, despite some impressions to the contrary, continues to be decidedly multilingual.
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