Varied foreign language courses help prepare for Brexit, welcome foreigners

Several schools in counties Dublin and Monaghan will be offering Lithuanian and Korean language courses beginning this week.

The Irish Times reports that the offering of more diverse foreign languages plays into efforts to better prepare Ireland for Brexit, as well as provide support for immigrants in Ireland.

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Identified as having the highest concentration of natives from Lithuania, counties Dublin and Monaghan will be offering the short language course to junior cycle students. The course requires a minimum of 100 hours over 2 years.

2016 census figures show that 36,683 Lithuanians live in Ireland. However, the Lithuanian embassy in Ireland believes that figure could be doubled if children of Lithuanian immigrants are accounted for.

The offering of Lithuanian as an option comes as part of the foreign languages strategy which aims to support immigrant communities in maintaining their own languages.

Korean, the 17th most spoken language in the world, is also being introduced to four schools in Dublin as part of the transition year module. In 2015, Ireland’s trade with South Korea reached €1.8 billion.

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The effort to include more options for different foreign language courses in Ireland is part of an overall 10-year strategy to prepare for Brexit.

The Irish Times reports that Irish people are statistically behind the curve when it comes to fluency in foreign languages. About 35 percent of average Europeans are fluent in another language, while only about 20 percent of Irish people are.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said, “Not only do we need to increase the number of languages taught, but we need to deepen the level of fluency and competency in these languages among our students.

“In the context of Brexit and the increasing importance globally of non-English speaking countries, I want to take action to ensure Ireland is well prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.”

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