Friday, February 11, 2011

The linguistic challenge of the European project

I thought this an interesting remark from an English educated academic on the current controversy initiated by Enda Kenny of Fine Gael.

“We could make it optional for Leaving Certificate; and after a few years we might come to think that it should be optional for Junior Certificate too; and after that – well, what’s the point of bothering with compulsory Irish at primary level, if it’s going to be taken only by a tiny minority at second level?

If we follow this path, we may well find that by the end of this decade Ireland has sold its linguistic birthright and staked its entire future cultural, political, economic on the continuing international dominance of English. 

On the other hand, we can respond by taking seriously the linguistic challenge of the European project; recognizing that Irish belongs not just to Ireland’s but to Europe’s linguistic heritage; taking note of the empirical fact that the more languages you learn, the easier it becomes; insisting that Ireland’s membership of Europe requires us to make foreign language learning a compulsory part of schooling; and seeking ways of achieving more effective learning outcomes.”

Professor David Little, Head, School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences, TCD

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