Irish secondary schools offering little language choice

Less than half the secondary schools in the Dublin area offer a modern European language, aside from French, Spanish, German and Italian, as a Leaving Cert subject.

According to the Department of Education, out of the 80 secondary schools in the Dublin area, 27 offer only the basics of French, German and Spanish as subjects for the Leaving Cert.

Latin is taught in half the schools in the Dublin area and is offered in more schools than modern languages such as Chinese, Japanese or Russian, as shown in the table below.


Ancient Greek 11
Arabic 14
Bulgarian 2
Chinese 31
Croatian 1
Dutch 5
Finnish 2
Hebrew Studies 5
Hindi 1
Hungarian 3
Italian 53
Italian (Basic) 4
Japanese 28
Japanese (LC only) 28
Latin 40
Latvian 4
Lithuanian 25
Modern Greek 3
Polish 26
Portuguese 5
Romanian 13
Russian 16
Russian (LC only) 23
Sign Language 2
Slovakian 1
Swedish 2

These statistics are taken over the last five years. In 2012, Ireland was found to have one of the lowest percentages in Europe of citizens who were able to hold a conversation in at least one foreign language – 40 percent compared with an average of 54 percent.

It was also found in 2014 by EIL Ireland (which encourages intercultural learning) that less than seven percent of Irish 10 year-olds learn a foreign language. The European average is above 70 percent.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton vowed to address these problems earlier this year with the introduction of new Leaving Cert languages and a promise that all Junior Cycle students would be learning a foreign language by 2021.

With Ireland lagging so far behind its European counterparts in the teaching of languages it is important that Mr. Bruton’s promises are upheld or else we may find ourselves even further behind the rest of Europe.

Statistics are over the last five years as provided by the Department of Education.

By Leo McGuinn

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