Graduates 'must learn languages to compete'
Published 06/10/2011 | 05:00
IRELAND needs to get serious about teaching foreign languages if graduates and the economy are to compete for jobs, a new report has warned.
The widespread perception that "English is enough" is no longer true, according to a report from the Royal Irish Academy (RIA).
The report criticises the lack of priority given to languages by the Department of Education, despite frequent urging from bodies such as the Council of Europe, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the Expert Group for Future Skills Needs.
The RIA says that Ireland is falling far behind its neighbours, with 66pc of Irish people not knowing any other language than their native tongue, the highest percentage in Europe.
In comparison, 56pc of people in Europe are able to hold a conversation in one language other than their mother tongue.
One worrying trend is the fall in the proportion of Leaving Certificate students taking French and German in the past decade.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has also hinted at a possible scrapping of the language requirement for entry to NUI universities.
The report calls for a national framework for language teaching and learning, including ensuring that all primary pupils learn a foreign language.
The RIA is an independent, academic body.