Frequently Asked Questions:Can a school join the Modern Languages Initiative at any time? How does a school apply to join? What support is available for schools wishing to join the MLPSI? What level of language does the teacher need to be able to teach the programme? Is is still possible to access funding for a visiting teacher to come to our school to teach the language? What resources should the school invest in for modern languages? If we are part of the MLPSI, can we still apply for a Language Assistant? What other opportunities does being part of the MLPSI offer?
What information can we give parents about the MLPSI?
What impact will the Literacy & Numeracy Strategy have on modern language teaching?
Can a school join the Modern Languages Initiative at any time? - Yes. Applications can be submitted at any time but it is recommended that teaching begins in September when possible. Induction training events for teachers joining the programme are organised in September and January annually.
How does a school apply to join? - Application forms can be downloaded from the MLPSI website. They must be completed in full, including details of the modern language teacher(s) and signed by both the Principal and the Chair of the Board of Management.
Each school is supported by a designated Regional Advisor who will visit the school, model and observe classes and advise the Principal, modern language teachers and hosting class teachers on all aspects of the programme. Support is provided in relation to planning, a whole school approach, building staff capacity, cross-curricular intergation and resources, among others. The Regional Advisor can also facilitate a whole staff presentation, which affords staffs an opportunity to reflect on and plan for their future participation in the programme.
Teachers are invited to two language-specific training events per year which are organised on a regional basis. The MLPSI also organises regional seminars for Principals, as well as national events.
There is also on-line support - we have a dedicated website which is reguarly updated with new resources, links, additional training opportunites and language related news. We also send our schools regular e-zines - both of a general nature and language-specific to help ensure that schools are kept abreast of all updates.
What level of language does the teacher need to be able to teach the programme? - While there is no formal level of proficiency stipulated for a teacher to be involved in the programme, it is expected that teachers would have the necessary fluency, motivation and enthusiasm to deliver the modern languages curriculum as drafted by the NCCA. This curriculum and the accompanying teacher guidelines can be downloaded by clicking here.
Is is still possible to access funding for a visiting teacher to come to our school to teach the language? - For the last number of years, DES policy has been to only include new schools in the programme who have staff capacity to teach the modern language. School staffs are supported in terms of training and resources as well as school-based and on-line support.
What resources should the school invest in for modern languages? - Your Regional Advisor will be able to advise you as to which resources would be most suitable for your school and recommended resources lists can be downloaded in each of the language sections of this website. In addition to commercial resources, you will have access to a considerable bank of resources which have been created by the MLPSI team which are distributed on training days, on school visits and are available on-line. The Regional Advisor will also work with you to highlight how resources already in your school for other curricular areas can also be used effectively in the modern language class.
If we are part of the MLPSI, can we still apply for a Language Assistant? - Absolutely! Many MLPSI host a language assistant from another European country and we would encourage schools to ask for an assistant who is from the country/one of the countries where your modern language is spoken. The assistants can help with the modern language teaching in the senior classes but can also introduce it to the younger classes and lasting links can be established between the school and the assistant once they go back home.
What other opportunities does being part of the MLPSI offer? - Since the inception of the project we have been very fortunate to collaborate with many partner agencies in education. As part of this, we will ensure that information on additional training opportunities open to MLPSI teachers are communicated in a timely manner to all our teachers and schools. These include workshops and conferences organised by the Cultural Institutes and the Colleges of Education, training courses abroad accessed through Léargas and the various activities organised by the ECML.
We organise the placement of teacher trainees from other universities and colleges of education in Spain, Germany and France in MLPSI schools.
We organise both language specific and general competitions open to all MLPSI schools including an "Early Experience in German" and the Colegio Español del Año competitions.
We offer opportunities to teachers to avail of language courses in order to help them improve their own level of proficiency in their language. Currently the MLPSI is co-sponsoring a ten week Italian Language Course with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Dublin and on-line Spanish language courses with the Consejería de Educación in the Spanish Embassy.
What information can we give parents about the MLPSI? - Please click here to download an Information Leaflet for parents which can be distributed at induction and other school events. Click here for Irish version .
What impact will the Literacy & Numeracy Strategy have on modern language teaching? - The Minister launched the revised strategy in relation to improving Literacy and Numeracy on July 8th 2011. Please click here to download it from the DES's website. Under this new policy, it is recommended that primary school pupils spend 90 minutes per day on literacy. The study of a modern language will compliment this strategy and we hope to continue our collaboration with the DES in the future in relation to a national languages in education policy.
As is noted in the Strategy, “Placing a strong focus in schools on the development and monitoring of students’ literacy and numeracy skills is not incompatible with a broad and balanced curriculum, nor should it lead to a narrowly focussed curriculum. On the contrary, ensuring that each child masters the skills of literacy and numeracy in a wide range of contexts is essential if they are to be enabled to access learning in a whole range of areas. At the same time, learning in all areas of the curriculum can greatly enrich students’ opportunities to acquire and apply their literacy and numeracy skills”. The Strategy indicates that guidance will issue from the NCCA on a revised time allocation for subjects in the PSC by 2016. The Strategy also notes that the NCCA will issue guidelines on how best literacy and numeracy skills may be taught effectively in the context of subjects other than English, Irish and Mathematics by 2016. This approach very much reflects the methodologies and approaches advocated by the MLPSI.
Furthermore the strategy notes that “the issues and concerns that we consider to be important or relevant change over time and it is natural for the curriculum to evolve to reflect changing circumstances”. As Ireland is currently the only country in Europe where modern foreign language learning is neither a core nor compulsory element of its primary school curriculum, we hope to continue our work with the Department of Education and Skills in the development of a coherent national languages in education policy.
As Principals and teachers involved in the MLPSI have testified, including those teaching in DEIS designated schools, learning a third language has enhanced language learning throughout the school and indeed it often results in an increased appreciation of Irish, in particular, and a realization that it is a “language” which can be used to communicate. Modern language learning allows for very effective cross-curricular work and the integration of language into all areas of the curriculum, including mathematics. The formal independent evaluation of the MLPSI has also shown that Principals, teachers and parents all advocate the extension of the programme and note the positive effects it has had on their pupils and children linguistically, academically, socially and in terms of assisting preparation for second level.
To place this discussion in a broader European context, it is of note that the Language Policy Division in the Council of Europe is now placing greater emphasis on languages of schooling and their role in the teaching of subjects so as to establish a balance more in keeping with the idea of plurilingual and intercultural education. The overarching theme for the Council of Europe’s Language Policy Division’s current programme of work is “Languages in/for Education” and similarly the European Commission’s new European Languages and Education policy, “Languages 2010 and beyond” reflects the critical need to improve foreign language learning as it is deemed a core skill to be nurtured and developed from an early age. A recent Intergovernmental Policy Forum on “The right of learners to quality and equity in education – the role of language and intercultural skills”, held in Geneva, focussed on the role played by languages, in particular the language(s) of schooling, in pupils’ success or failure at school. It brought together those responsible for the overall language policy of education systems, not only those in charge of foreign languages or of the national language taught as a subject in itself, but also those responsible for other subjects, as languages are the vehicle of all teaching and learning. One of the main themes of the Forum was the language dimension in the learning/teaching of all subjects and so it is heartening that the Irish system is also now reflecting on such critical issues. These language and education policy developments reflect the aspirations of the Lisbon Strategy which detailed a commitment to improving foreign language learning as one of its specific objectives, with a special emphasis placed on early language learning.
The reasons for this policy focus have been widely researched and documented. Bringing young children into contact with foreign languages can result in faster language learning, improved mother tongue skills, and better performance in other areas. This strategy was further endorsed by EU Education Ministers when they formally supported the teaching and learning of at least two foreign languages from a very early age through the Barcelona Agreement (2002). As well as laying the foundations for later learning, early language learning influences attitudes towards other languages and cultures, reason enough for various EU Commission initiatives to promote it and support further research.
In their response to the Draft Literacy and Numeracy Strategy, IBEC recommended that "All students should have a strong early foundation in the core subjects of mathematics, science, and literacy in two modern languages". It also notes that "the Department’s Draft Plan also fails to explore the relationship between literacy in the school’s first language and other modern languages".
Recent National and International Media Coverage of Language Issues
- Irish Times, 10.04.12 - Trilingual kids who will never be tongue-tied - "For English speakers in particular, it’s easy to be lazy when it comes to learning other languages, and, as any mature student knows, it is hard work, so if your children have the opportunity to imbibe other languages when they are young my advice is take advantage of their good fortune. After all: Tús maith leath na hoibre. It will broaden their minds, expand their horizons and provide a lifetime of pleasure".
- Irish Independent, 10.04.12 - Cost of scrapping foreign languages hits home - "...A lack of language skills could have cost Britain many times over the supposed savings that Labour tried to make. It just shows how short-sighted that policy was."
- Irish Times, 03.04.12 - Chatterbox - What's the talk of education - (several references to primary languages) - "...Ireland, unlike all other EU nations, does not mandate the study of a foreign language at any level of education. Most primary schools do not teach a foreign language at all".
- Irish Times, 31.03.12 - Paypal nuncio - (Interview with Head of Paypal in Ireland, Louise Phelan) - “Of course we should continue to teach the Irish language but there should be teaching of a second language at primary level, when children are sponges and able to learn it".
- Meath Chronicle, 21.03.12 - Editorial - Coherent language strategy needed in schools - "... the recent budget decision to abolish the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative (MLPSI) needs to be revisited. Not only has it delivered value for money and helped children across the country achieve valuable learning outcomes, but this retrograde step has come at a time when there is real momentum behind the languages agenda".
- New York Times, 17.03.12 - The Benefits of Bilingualism - "SPEAKING two languages rather than just one has obvious practical benefits in an increasingly globalized world. But in recent years, scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter".
- Tuam Herald, 14.03.12 - Abolition of the Modern Languages in Primary Schools scheme deplorable -"FIANNA Fáil TD for Galway East, Micheál Kitt, says the decision to abolish the Modern Languages in Primary Schools initiative is deplorable and needs to be reversed. During a Dáíl debate on the topic, Deputy Kitt claimed that the Minister for Education and Skills failed to see the link between the initiative and the literacy and numeracy scheme".
- Irish Times, 06.03.12 - Modern languages at primary level are crucial - "Sustaining early modern language learning will ensure that our children have an interest in and a love of languages. As Ireland is about to assume the presidency of the European Union, we should be mindful of that if our children are to compete in an increasingly global marketplace, they should be offered the same learning opportunities as their counterparts in other European countries".
- Skills Ireland, 28.02.12 - Expert Group on Future Skills Needs - " The analysis of the vacancy data highlights the importance of foreign languages and relevant work experience as an integral part of the skills portfolio of candidates across a range of occupational groups. To download the report in full, click here.
- Sunday Independent, 26.02.12 - Ireland can come top of the class again - "...more emphasis on literacy and numeracy at primary and secondary level are long-overdue. The same goes for science and foreign languages, where a good start can be made at primary level".
- Irish Independent, 22.02.12 - Vote of confidence to clear way for thousands more jobs - "Ms Phelan carried out a thorough analysis of the linguistic abilities of potential candidates for the jobs based in the north-east region from Dublin to the North. 'I did a very in-depth analysis on the language opportunities that are in Dundalk. That was the most important thing in terms of clinching the investment,' she added. While some recruitment may be needed abroad, she found that speakers of the majority of languages the company needed -- including French, German, Spanish and Dutch -- could be found in this region".
- Dublin City FM, 12.02.12 - MLPSI National Coordinator is interviewed by Barry Hennessy for the Inside Education programme.
- Irish Independent, 08.02.12 - Prof. Josef van Genabith, Director of CNGL - In My Opinion: Teaching languages at primary level will be a key to our economic future - "Despite our international outlook, just 34pc of Irish citizens know a language other than their mother tongue -- the lowest proportion in the EU. Clearly, there is significant scope for improvement. By supporting the teaching of modern languages in 550 primary schools, the MLPSI is helping to promote multilingualism and multi-ethnicity. Promoting these qualities will contribute to the country's future success".
- Irish Times, 02.02.12 - Schools may face litigation over poor guidance for pupils - "The committee was also told that cuts to a modern language programme in primary schools ran counter to stated Government policy. Tanya Flanagan, national co-ordinator of the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative, said the cost-effective programme had given 27,000 pupils in more than 500 schools the opportunity to learn a modern language. The cutback meant that the only children with modern languages would be those from multi-lingual families and those who could afford private tuition".
- eGovmonitor, 01.02.12 - Ireland Is Recognised As A Leader In The Localisation And Global Services Sector But We Need To Do More – "Minister Sherlock supports call for more skilled graduates in language and technology to maintain Ireland’s world leadership position in multi-billion euro localisation sector".
- Sinn Fein website, 01.02.12 - Ending of Modern Languages Initiative a serious blow: Deputy Seán Crowe - “It is essential that a review of the modern language provision be undertaken which would accurately inform the Minister for Education and Skills of the benefits of early modern language learning to students and as well projected industry needs and help inform future curriculum reform. A National Strategy for Primary Modern Languages needs to be developed which would foresee the opportunity to learn a modern language being extended to all children by 2020. In the interim, the MLSPI should be allowed continue to support teachers and schools who wish to offer this learning opportunity to their pupils.”
- INTOuch, Jan./Feb.12 - Letter of the Month - Modern Languages Initiative - "The practice of modern language teaching and learning is one that needs further development rather than withdrawal if we are to place to ourselves in a position to compete internationally in future years".
- Newstalk, 28.01.12 - Global Village - Interview with Dr. Deirdre Kirwan, Principal of Scoil Bhride, Blanchardstown and Tanya Flanagan, MLPSI (go to Part 1, from 21mins. on).
- Kilkenny People, 27.01.12 - Four Kilkenny schools lose language funding - “If we want children to have a European language, the earlier we start the better.”
- Irish Times, 17.01.12 - Speaking in tongues - "One of the issues that keeps coming up is languages. Many employers seem to be looking for graduates with languages and I’m starting to regret that I did not take business with a language".
- Irish Independent, 11.01.12 - The skills minister who is cutting back on our kids' skills - "My own personal experience was that the few kids who were given a grounding in a continental language before arriving in our 'centre of excellence' were not just always streets ahead in, say, French but in most subjects".
- A University Blog - Ferdinand von Prondzynski - 09.01.12, Modern languages in Irish primary schools
- Irish Echo Online, 04.01.12 - KILDARE PROGRAM CUT SPARKS FURY -Hundreds of Kildare primary school pupils in 18 schools will be deprived of learning German, Spanish and French after the Government axed the Modern Languages program in the budget. Jobs at the Kildare Education Centre in Kildare town, which co-ordinates the program, are under threat as a result, with 250 teachers and 50 staff nationwide facing the dole queue, the Leinster Leader reports. Furious principals flooded the center with calls questioning the government decision, which came without warning last week.
- Galway Advertiser, 29.12.11 - NUIG lecturer condemns axing of foreign languages in primary schools - "The decision to abolish teaching foreign languages in primary school is “shows a disregard for the importance of language teaching at a young age and a short-sightedness about the future needs of this country”.
- Irish Times, 20.12.11 - Chatterbox, What's the talk of Education? - "Cuts to the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative Here, we see the lack of any real joined-up thinking in our education system, all because of choices the Government is making. I bet the civil servant who made this decision to cut foreign-language teaching does not speak a foreign language. Everyone knows that it is much easier to teach younger children languages because they learn quicker – David McWilliams, davidmcwilliams.ie"
- Irish Times, 20.12.11 - Year in, Year out - "Lowlight - Probably seeing that, hidden among all of the cuts, the hugely successful Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative has been given the axe. Its a massive blow to what should have been a huge step forward. We talk about science and maths, but fluency in other languages is a massive skills gap in Ireland".
- Irish Times, 20.12.11 - Letters to the Editor, Cut in modern language support - "The Budget 2012 decision to abolish the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative will have catastrophic consequences for the employment opportunities of future generations of Irish school-leavers and graduates".
- Mayo Today.ie, 19.12.11, Mayo language training experts call on Govt to reverse cut - "A Mayo-based company that is recognised as the established leader in second language training courses and education has called on the Government to reverse their proposal to abolish the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative."
- RTE News2day, 19.12.11, A round-up of news for a young audience, feature on MLPSI school, St. Clare's PS in Dublin and the recent budget decision
- Irish Examiner, 19.12.11, Letters to the Editor, Modern Languages Initiative vital, "...The Government claims that the relatively small amount of money saved by the abolition of the MLPSI will be used towards improving numeracy and literacy skills in primary schools. However, the study of a modern language actually helps promote increased literacy and numeracy, while also enhancing linguistic, academic and social skills".
- Irish Times, 17.12.11, Editorial - Lost for Words, "... the abolition of this language programme appears short-sighted and illogical; it represents a kind of educational vandalism which shows an appalling disregard for the importance of building up language skills among our young. As teachers engaged in the programme have noted: “It sends a message of insularity to our European neighbours and restricts the possible futures of the children of Ireland.’’
- Connacht Tribune, 16.12.11, French and German may be bailing us out - but budget cuts mean we're no longer speaking their language! - "Literacy isn't a monolingual concept. Learning a new language can have an immensely positive impact on literacy in the mother tongue".
- Irish Independent, 14.12.11, David McWilliams: If our future is in Europe, we have to talk the talk - "As part of the Government's austerity drive, the excellent Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative -- see www.mlpsi.ie -- has been shut down. This was a scheme to introduce children early to foreign languages, to give them a feel for foreign languages and to lay the foundations of a familiarity with foreign languages. In short, this scheme is crucial if the graduates of tomorrow are to get a fair chance to work in Europe, either for big European companies or for Irish companies exporting into the rest of the EU. Here, we see the lack of any real joined-up thinking in our education system, all because of choices the Government is making".
- Irish Independent, 14.12.11, Thousands speak out over languages-teaching cuts - "THOUSANDS of people, from all over the world, have signed an online petition to save the teaching of modern languages in Irish primary schools from the Budget axe. Language academics and the Irish diaspora in countries such as Germany, the US and Canada are among those supporting the campaign to reverse the move.
- Leinster Leader, 14.12.11- Kildare schools slam language course axing - "We feel that this initiative should be rolled out for all primary schools, not abolished. At the present time, we have people leaving the country for work and it is so important to have other languages. The girls are learning not just a language, but a culture. We are members of the EU and we feel very strongly that all children should be given this opportunity. We are going to fight this.”
- Kerryman, 14.12.11- It was callous... no warning, no notice, nothing - ''A SHOCK announcement by the government to cut foreign language teaching in primary schools has been described as a "backward, retrograde step" and one that could have enormous negative consequences in the future.''
- Irish Examiner, 13.12.11, Teacher turned up for work to learn she was losing job - "In such difficult economic times, how can this decision be justified? Years of expertise will be lost to the system and a whole generation of our children will be placed at an even greater disadvantage as they try to compete for jobs with our fellow Europeans."
- Irish Times, 13.12.11, What's the talk of education?- "The cutting of modern languages in primary school must be one of the most short-sighted policies in the Budget".
- Irish Times, 12.12.11, Letters to the Editor - Cut in modern language support
- Cork Politics.ie. 08.12.11 - Martin condemns cuts to language support initiative - "FIANNA Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has described as “extremely regressive and short-sighted” the decision to cut the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative (MLPSI)".
- RTE Six One & Nine o'clock news, 08.12.11, European languages funds in primary schools withdrawn
- RTE News2day, 08.12.11, A round-up of news for a young audience, feature on MLPSI school, Scoil Chaitriona in Coolock and budget decision.
- Guardian (UK), 29.11.11 - Labour backs English baccalaureate to boost languages study - "The English baccalaureate, introduced in school league tables this year, recognises pupils who have achieved a C or better in English, maths, history or geography, sciences and a language. Twigg – who said he regretted having given up Spanish when he was 14 – said Labour should have put foreign languages on the primary school timetable before scrapping the requirement for older children".
- Irish Times, 25.11.11 - Educating Irish people to live and work success - Ed Walsh - "..employers in such key enterprises as Google find it necessary to look abroad for the talents they require, such as mastery of two or three modern European languages...Secularise and reform the education of primary teachers: more civics, science, maths and modern languages".
- Irish Independent, 20.11.11, Business Section - We must learn to talk the talk for boost in trading - "Given that the majority of the global population doesn't speak English, language skills are key to unlocking our export potential, says Google boss John Herlihy....There's nothing like a crisis to focus our minds on improvements. We now have the opportunity to decide what is needed to grow our economy sustainably. In the short term, we need to retain the National University of Ireland requirement for one modern language for admission to its constituent universities. In the medium term we need to: (a) roll out the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative to all schools.."
- The Grapevine (West Cork & South Kerry), November 2011 - Viva Italia at Inchiclough - Inchiclough NS has won an award for the Italian Art Competition organised by the MLPSI.
- Irish Independent, 09.11.11 - Tackling our insecurities about languages is vital to the economy - Don Morgan - "In terms of foreign languages, this task is massive: having consistently ignored complaints from experts and educators, having whistled past the sprawling graveyard of domestic policy documents and directives from the EU, will the Government finally make modern foreign languages a priority and source of pride in Ireland's schools?"
- Irish Independent, 09.11.11 - Letters to the Editor - Our master's voice - "Further to the Government's plans to 'improve' the education system by abolishing the Junior Cert, a far more practical move would be the introduction of compulsory French and German in our primary schools."
- Irish Times, 08.11.11 - Irish students lost in translation - Áine Kerr - "With so much focus directed at promoting science and maths in recent years, the area of language skills has struggled to command the same attention. At the heart of the complacency is a misconception that globalisation simply means that everyone need only speak English. In reality, however, languages enable someone to research their market, understand the local factors, interpret the moves of competitors and appreciate the cultural nuances in a country. The European Council’s Language Policy Division recently laid out in stark terms for Ireland that the main challenge for this country is to move away from “an official but lame bilingualism” and become a truly multilingual society. Two weeks ago, the newly published National Languages Strategy bluntly stated that Ireland is the only country in Europe, other than Scotland, where a foreign language is not compulsory at any stage of the mainstream educational curriculum".
- Irish Times, 01.11.11 - Chatterbox - The deficit in foreign language skills - "I have been saying this for years, foreign languages need to be taught in primary schools, with a focus on an actual ability to converse in the language and people will have no problem finding a job. I work for a multinational and would be on big bucks if I had a second language. – Sarah Murphy, thejournal.ie" ...
- Irish Times, 18.10.11 - Letters to the Editor - Learning Languages - " Languages are obviously a vital practical tool. But not only are they a means of communicating thoughts and ideas, they also forge friendships, economic relationships and cultural ties".
- Irish Times, 15.10.11, Editorial - Learning Languages - "Ireland’s abysmal record is highlighted in a recent important Royal Irish Academy report, The National Languages Strategy, which notes that the Republic is the only EU country, bar one, where a foreign language is not compulsory at any stage in the main education curriculum....The report, which argues that the linguistic underperformance is affecting economic competitiveness, makes a strong and welcome case for increased language teaching to children as young as four, an increase in language teacher numbers at all levels and support for language-assistant programmes, an impostion of compulsory foreign language requirements in the curriculum and in third level access, and use of the Transition year to explore other languages".
- Argus (UK), 11.10.11 - Brighton one step closer to having country's first fully-state-funded bilingual school - "Campaigners last night moved a step closer to saying “Hola” to one of the first fully-state-funded bilingual schools in the country. Education secretary Michael Gove revealed the Brighton Bilingual Primary School (BBPS) has been approved for the next stage of the Government’s new free school programme."
- Sunday Times, 09.10.11 - Languages are the key to success - "Our pupils must learn to speak in more than their mother tongues" (no link available).
- Irish Times, 06.10.11 - Call to prioritise languages in schools - "The National Languages Strategy document, compiled by the Royal Irish Academy’s committee for modern language, literary and culture studies, pointed out that the Republic was the only country in Europe, with the exception of Scotland, where a foreign language was not compulsory at any stage in the main education curriculum... It said an increased emphasis on language learning for children as young as four would strengthen creativity, empathy and problem-solving skills".
- Irish Independent, 06.10.11 - Graduates 'must learn languages to compete' - "The report calls for a national framework for language teaching and learning, including ensuring that all primary pupils learn a foreign language".
- Irish Examiner, 06.10.11 - Languages at primary level ‘key to job prospects’ - IRISH children’s long-term job prospects may be hindered if more than five-out-of-six primary schools do not teach modern languages, top third level educators have warned. The extension of the Modern Languages in Primary Schools programme, piloted since 1998 but still only involving around 520 of the country’s 3,300 primary schools, is one of the key recommendations in the National Languages Strategy published by the Royal Irish Academy (RIA).
- Guardian (UK), 30.09.11 - Michael Gove proposes teaching foreign languages from age five - "Learning a foreign language, and the culture that goes with it, is one of the most useful things we can do to broaden the empathy and imaginative sympathy and cultural outlook of children."
- RTE Six One News - 27.09.11 - MLPSI, primary modern language learning and St. Philip's SNS, Clonsilla feature in an excellent feature by RTE's Education and Science correspondent, Emma O'Kelly (skip to about 32mins 50 secs.).
- IBEC, 26.09.11 - Integrated and coherent language education policy needed - "On the tenth anniversary of the European Day of languages today, IBEC, the group that represents Irish business, called on the Department of Education and Skills to introduce a national language policy to provide an integrated and coherent approach to language education".
- Irish Examiner, 26.09.11 - IBEC calls for integrated language education policy - IBEC is calling on Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to look at existing language policy, to work towards intergrated language education across the curriculum, and to come up with a different approach to teaching languages.
- Independent (UK), 20.09.11 - Alan Jones - Language teaching 'deplorable' - "To learn a language is to enter beneath the surface of a people, their history and their culture, and it enables us to begin to understand why the world looks as it does from their perspective".
Irish Times, 14.09.11 - Sean Flynn - Junior Cert results published - "High failure rates in foreign languages and maths are the main features of the Junior Cert results published this morning. Close to 12 per cent of students failed ordinary level French, while failure rates were also high for ordinary level Spanish (8 per cent) and German (7.5 per cent)".
Irish Times, 14.09.11 - Sean Flynn - Teachers' pay in Republic among highest in world - "The (OECD) review may help to explain the relatively poor performance of Irish teens in international surveys on maths, science and foreign languages. In virtually every case the amount of time devoted to these subjects is below the organisation average at primary and second level".
- Irish Times, 07.09.11 - Sean Flynn - The case to better align students with college courses is compelling - "There is pressure to raise our game in relation to language proficiency, in which Irish school-leavers are ranked close to the bottom of European tables...."
- Guardian, 31.08.11 - Jeevan Vasagar, Education Editor - Pupils switching to more traditional GCSE subjects, survey finds - "The number of pupils studying traditional GCSEs such as history, geography and languages is rising after years of decline, according to a survey of schools. The poll of nearly 700 secondary schools in England found an increase of 26% in numbers studying history this term, a similar increase for geography, and a 22% rise for languages".
- Telegraph, 30.08.11 - Grame Paton - UK pupils 'worst in Europe for learning foreign languages' - "...(data from 2009) shows that the UK slumped to the foot of the table. It was joint bottom with Hungary and Ireland..."
- Irish Times, 11.07.11 - Letters to the Editor - The importance of foreign languages - "...in a country that has become more multilingual over the past decade, and the better for it, any decision to end the foreign language requirement as well as rule out mandatory foreign languages at primary schools, would be all the more deplorable and would fly in the face of EU language policy".
- Irish Independent, 16.06.11 - Katherine Donnelly - Only 5pc at third level able to speak two foreign languages - "Gerry O'Sullivan, of the Higher Education Authority, said: "It is more important than ever that our graduates have an understanding of European societies and languages...It makes them more attractive to employers, but also sensitive to cultural issues and different methods of learning....In a recent GradIreland survey, carried out by the careers services in the higher education colleges in Ireland, one-third of employers expressed concern about a shortage of foreign language skills, up from one in five last year".
- Irish Times, 28.05.11 - Sean Flynn - Give me a crash course in . . . foreign languages in schools - "Why are we so bad at languages? There’s no mystery there. Most students in Ireland take up a foreign language for the first time when they enter secondary school at age 12 or 13; by this stage most of their counterparts in other EU countries are already well ahead – even fluent – in a second language. The lack of any oral component in Junior Cert foreign language exams compounds the problem. It should all begin much earlier, of course, at nursery or primary school. But just 15 per cent of primary-school children take a modern European language – and only in fifth and sixth classes".
- Irish Times, 26.05.11 - Sean Flynn - Foreign language for college may be ended - "At present, modern European languages are taught in only about 15 per cent of primary schools – but only in fifth and sixth classes. Most students in Ireland take up a foreign language for the first time when they enter secondary school at age 12/13; by this stage most of their counterparts in the EU are already fluent in a second language".
- Irish Times, 15.03.11 - Sean Flynn - How Quinn can make a difference - "By some estimates, over 30 per cent of all teaching time in primary schools is taken up by religion and Irish. Is this appropriate in an increasingly secular Ireland – and one where knowledge of a foreign language is so critical for employment".
- Speak to the Future - The Speak to the Future campaign promotes the value of languages and language learning in the UK, and will raise the visibility of the issues with the public, the media, parliamentarians and policy-makers. It will make the case for a long-term commitment to achieving an improvement in the UK’s capacity in languages and a step change in language learning. The five-year campaign, launched in February 2011, is supported by languages, cultural and business organisations, who are convinced of the importance of language learning for the future of our society, our citizens and our economy.
Objective 2 - A coherent experience of languages for all children in primary school
- IBEC, February 2011 - Submission to the Department of Education and Skills, National Plan to Improve Literacy and Numeracy in Schools - "The Department’s Draft Plan also fails to explore the relationship between literacy in the school’s first language and other modern languages....All students should have a strong early foundation in the core subjects of mathematics, science, and literacy in two modern languages".
- Irish Times, 25.01.11 - Dr. Ed Walsh - Finding the muscle to fix our failing education system - "School language policy needs revision....Resources should be reoriented towards improving the teaching of English and enriching the offering of continental and Asian languages and Irish studies..."
- Irish Independent, 06.01.11 - Tina Leonard - Why we should say "Mais oui!" to foreign languages - "..there are economic implications to not speaking a foreign language".
- Languages Today, Spring 2011 Issue - National language recovery programme needed (UK) - "Baroness Coussins, chair of the all-party parlimentary group on modern languages, has suggested that languages should be a priority subject for public investment and that a 'national languages recovery programme' is now needed".
- Irish Times, 02.11.10 - Brian Hayes - No more Republic of average - "We need to introduce other European languages at a much earlier stage."
- Italia Stampa, Nov. 2010 - Marcella Natale - L'Italia incontra l'Irlanda sui banchi di scuola.
- Primary Times, Winter Issue - Ciao! Allo! Bonjour! - "Children who are exposed to, and learn foreign languages at an early age enhance their ability to reach high levels of cognitive development, showing a good degree of creativity and flexibility across a broad range of subjects".
- European Commission, October 2010 - Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth - "...the world has become a multilingual village in which foreign language skills are the key to feeling at home everywhere... language skills will become indispensible in the near future...Every European citizen should learn two foreign languages from an early age, said the Commissioner.". Click here for more...
- Irish Independent, 13.10.10 - Karin Fichtinger-Grohe - Why students learning German will help the economy - "In difficult economic circumstances each additional skill, such as a foreign language, is of added value".
- Irish Times, 09.10.10 - Paul Gillespie - Circular labour mobility and language skills - "Irish workers' monolingualism means that they still have a long way to go to compete with other Europeans. "Everyone in Europe has English now, so it's no advantage....Studying another language with Irish at primary level might help reanimate that language..."
- Irish Times, 05.10.10 - Martin Murphy - What we must do to move education into the fast lane - "...every student needs to have fluency in two international languages when leaving school".
- Irish Independent, 29.09.10 - Kim Bielenberg - Why it's really time to mind our languages in schools - "Until the Government introduces a coherent language policy, Irish students are likely to lose out in the jobs market as companies look elsewhere for the skills that they require."
- Irish Examiner, 25.09.10 - Ann Cahill - Ireland bottom of class in languages - IRELAND is bottom of the EU class when it comes to learning a foreign language, and the lack costs the economy billions of euro a year. A miniscule 3% of primary schoolchildren have language lessons compared with an average of 79% across the EU. ..
- Irish Times, 25.09.10 - Arthur Beesley - Schools lag in teaching foreign languages - "Irish primary schools have Europe's lowest tuition levels."
- Irish Independent, 25.09.10 - Sarah Collins - Pupils worst in EU for foreign languages - "Only 3pc of Irish primary schools students learn a foreign langugae, lagging well behind the EU average of 79pc"
- Irish Times, 20.04.10 - Grainne Faller - Language gap is latest threat to jobs - "Ireland is the only European country where study of a foreign language is not compulsory at any stage of the education system....Meanwhile, there are pockets of positive activity around the country. Projects such as the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative (MLPSI) which aims to introduce French, German, Italian and Spanish into the primary system, are vastly oversubscribed....The opportunities that open up in terms of travel and experience within the company are enormous if you have a language.”
Aims of the MLPSI
As agreed at its launch in 1998, the MLPSI aims to introduce and support modern languages at primary level in Ireland. It hopes to create a positive attitude towards language learning, to include a wide variety of schools and to facilitate and support a diversified range of languages – Italian, Spanish, German and French. We also aim to create links between primary and post-primary.
The MLPSI aims to provide:
- a targeted, professional support programme for all MLPSI schools
- quality teacher induction and CPD
- a comprehensive range of appropriate language-specific and generic language learning resources
The MLPSI is also committed to working with all our partners in education and to informing policy makers at national and international levels.
Please click to download an Information Leaflet for Parents which may be distributed at Induction and other school events to ensure that they understand and appreciate the value of the modern language learning taking place in your school. This leaflet can also be uploaded to your school website. Irish version available here .
Regional Advisors (language specialism in brackets)
|Pascaline Horan (Italian)
|Dr. Kènia Puig i Planella (Spanish)
Tel: 087- 2931506
Gina Reilly (German)
Frederique Rantz (French)
Brendan Duignan (French)
Vivienne O'Loughlin, Kildare Education Centre, Friary Road, Kildare.
Support Services for MLPSI Schools
In line with other curriculum support programmes, support to all MLPSI schools operates on a regional basis. Each region has an assigned member of the Regional Advisor team working across the four target languages of the Initiative. The Regional Advisors work to provide a support service which builds on the Initiative’s work to date and recognises the evolving needs of schools as they work towards developing a more integrated language policy and whole school approach to language teaching.
Services provided by your assigned Regional Advisor include the following:
• Support through the MLPSI website at www.mlpsi.ie
• Support and advice for Principals and teachers in terms of language methodology, resources, cross-curricular activities etc.
• Facilitation of a whole-staff presentation on Modern Languages in Primary School
• School visits to assist in the implementation of a whole school approach, including a whole school plan, to language teaching and the Modern Language curriculum
• Support through the MLPSI National Coordinator and Kildare Education Centre
• Language specific support through CPD development days
• Facilitation of Induction events for new teachers
• Principals’ Seminars
• Ongoing contact and support by phone/e-mail/post