European Day of Languages – online conference

Knowledge of language is the doorway to wisdom.

– Roger Bacon

Mastering multiple languages enhances the life and work of all individuals, promoting mobility, lifelong and innovative learning, and helping to remove barriers to social inclusion.

Improving language learning was identified by the European Union as a key enabler to achieving the EU’s vision for a European Education Area by 2025 in which “learning, studying and doing research would not be hampered by borders”.

European Day of Languages is celebrated each year on September 26th as an initiative of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg to encourage language learning across Europe, promoting the rich linguistic and cultural diversity across the content. Some useful resources for schools and ideas for celebrating European Day of Languages are available on the EDL website. Many schools across Ireland will engage in activities or project work to mark this event and embrace the many languages and cultures that make up Ireland’s linguistic and cultural diversity.

Language learning is well established in Irish schools. Learning English and Irish, or learning through the medium of English or Irish, provides pupils with a large repertoire of transferrable language skills, language content knowledge, and language awareness. These skills are relevant across all disciplines and subjects and serve to enhance interpersonal communication skills, adaptability, logical thinking, and creativity.

The new Primary Language Curriculum/Curaclam Teanga na Bunscoile coupled with the impetus arising from the Languages Connect Strategy provides a timely juncture to examine whether and to what extent foreign languages could be incorporated into the redeveloped primary curriculum. The Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative (1998-2012) proved successful for those involved, however, curriculum overload, the need for increased funding and resourcing as well as training for teachers were barriers to the effective implementation in the long-term. This is one key issue that will be explored in INTO’s consultation on the Draft Primary Curriculum Framework.

To coincide with this year’s celebration of European Day of Languages, the European Commission launched the publication of a report entitled ‘Education begins with Language’ which seeks to support the implementation of the Recommendation of the Council of the European Union (EU) on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages. The report is based on research and a series of seminars produced by the Commission, featuring findings from an Irish context, with reference to practices that value linguistic diversity in Scoil Bhríde (Cailíní), Blanchardstown.

Further information on the report and a free online conference taking place on Monday 28 September can be found here as well as a link to a video documentary which will be released on the day.