Reports in recent years have shown that there is a shortage of language skills in Ireland and that this could be holding Ireland back in terms of competing internationally. Ireland and Scotland are the only 2 countries in the European Union, where it is not obligatory to learn a foreign language in school and Ireland also has the highest percentage of citizens in the EU (66%) that do not speak languages other than first language.
One such report from the royal Irish Academy said that there is an urgent need to implement a policy on languages in education and that a clear strategy for language education needs to be in place from primary school on. It called for funding and resources to be provided urgently and said that it is highly important that foreign language be a priority subject in third level education.
With this current lack of language skills, graduates who have studied a foreign language are in a strong position in the labour market. A second European language has been shown to increase long-term job opportunities and graduates who have a language combined with another skill, like marketing or sales, are even more employable as the employment market continues to become more global. Many companies communicate with clients internationally and so the ability to speak another language can be an advantage in many fields.
Areas where language skills are asset are tourism, sales, marketing, conference management or customer relations as well as teaching positions, interpreting or translating. Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is an increasingly popular job and a great way to travel as many TEFL companies are looking for eager graduates to teach English abroad.
Sandford Languages Institute in Dublin offers courses in over 30 different languages including Arabic, Bulgarian, Spanish, Chinese and many more. The Institute runs these courses on a part-time evening bases and also provides in-company courses and private tuitions. The evening courses are typically 12 to 14 weeks long and cover all levels from beginner to level 2, including intensive introduction courses and advanced refresher courses. All the tutors are native speakers and fully qualified teachers. Check out www.sandfordlanguages.ie for more details.
Malahide community school offers part-time evening courses in languages such as French, Italian, Spanish and German. The courses are 10 weeks in length and are aimed at beginners. For more information go to www.malahidecs.ie .
NUI Galway offers part-time evening diplomas in French, Italian and Spanish. Each of the courses are aimed at complete beginners and introduce the basic elements of the languages and run for 2 years, with a class once a week. There is also a distance learning course available; a Diploma in Italian, which is the first course of its kind to be developed by an Irish University. This course allows the student to be involved in the latest skills in e-learning and while having the flexibility of studying a language in their own time. The course, unlike other distance learning programmes, is based on a communicative, collaborative approach and students are encouraged to participate in online classes with their peers and tutor. For more information on any of the courses offered by NUI Galway go to www.nuigalway.ie.
Besides the obvious career benefits of learning a foreign language, having the ability to speak anther language can also be a great help when you are on holidays abroad. Rather than relying on dodgy sign language to communicate, just think how great it would be to be able to converse freely with locals with confidence! Whether you want to be able to deal with business professionals in French, teach English to students in Spain or order a glass of wine in Italy, there are courses out there for everyone and they are well worth checking out.