Modern language teaching is essential - Adams
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has welcomed the decision given by the Taoiseach in the Dáil today that he will review the government’s decision to end the modern languages programme in primary schools.
The Taoiseach’s commitment emerged after the decision was challenged and criticised by Deputy Adams in the Dáil.
The Louth TD pointed to the recent announcement by Paypal to create 1000 jobs in Dundalk of which 50% will require a working knowledge of a second language.
Speaking during the debate Gerry Adams pointed out that in last week’s Dáil session there had been much talk of the “possibility of increased trade links with China which highlights the importance of learning additional languages.”
“The recent announcement of the decision by PayPal to invest in Dundalk and create 1000 jobs highlights the critical importance of developing a knowledge based economy that is able to provide the educational opportunities for children so that they can learn a second language at a young age.
“The Blue Star Programme has been introduced to replace the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative, but it has a different focus on culture and knowledge of the EU and its institutions.
“Some 545 schools participated in the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative. This programme was succeeding in developing a positive attitude towards language learning until it was cut in the last Budget.
“It seems to me a very retrograde step to cease funding to the modern languages in primary schools initiative, especially when companies like Paypal which has said will need at least 500 of its prospective employees in Dundalk to have a working knowledge of a second language.
“France, for example, is this state’s fifth largest trading partner, but we are closing off the possibility of pupils being introduced at an early age to modern languages and having the opportunity to learn French. The same can apply to languages such as German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin.
“Ending the Modern Languages Initiative was short-sighted and potentially damaging to the future prospects of attracting skilled, multinational jobs to these shores.
“It is also at odds with a government which talks often about the importance of exports.
“I therefore welcome the Taoiseach’s commitment to review this bad decision but we will want to see the results of that review quickly.”