It's that time of year when Transition Year students face the task of choosing the subjects they are going to study for the next two years along with English, Irish and maths.
I remember it well, sitting in the school hall listening to teachers and students alike explaining to us why their particular subject was the best and why we'd be mad not to pick it. On paper, we were well prepared. All the pros and cons (mainly pros) of each subject laid out in front of us but in reality the piles of information was simply overwhelming.
This, along with my two older sisters attempting to persuade me to do their favourite subjects and teachers telling me to pick subjects relevant to what I wanted to do in college. I didn't know in sixth year what college course I wanted to do, let alone in Transition Year! It made it almost impossible for me to feel confident picking my subjects. I would like to try and make this decision easier for Transition Year students by explaining why studying a second foreign language is a good Leaving Certificate option!
I have heard students say how they'll never have to use algebra or trigonometry or geometry in real life situations in the future. You could use the same argument with many more subjects.
When are you going to need languages? Whenever you want, and that's the beauty of it. Ireland is becoming more and more diverse. You hear foreign languages wherever you go. On a night out not so long ago I spent a lot of time talking to a group of French people, in French of course!
I may be slightly biased in this matter of subject choice as I really do love languages but I think it would be crazy not to take advantage of the opportunity to learn how people communicate in other parts of the world, immerse yourself in another culture, practise what you have learnt and then sit an exam and have the results go towards your leaving cert points!
Studying an extra language also creates brilliant opportunities for the future. In almost any line of work, having a second foreign language is attractive to employers. Having an extra language also brings unexpected benefits like this year, on my "gap" year: I am currently in Madrid working as an au pair and I have job in Disneyland, Paris, where French is a requirement, for the summer!
But of course, languages, words, letters are not for everyone. Just like numbers are not for everyone. Some people excel in subjects where there's lots of rote learning and some people much prefer problem solving subjects like physics or applied maths.
Starting a new language will take some hard work in fifth year but it will be so worth it. For my Leaving Cert, I did French and Spanish, taking up Spanish in fifth year. They were my two best results. I stumbled across this subject choice by mistake as the original subject combination that I wanted wasn't available. I came across doing a third language by chance but you don't have to!
Sorcha Doyle sat her Leaving Certificate in 2014. She started an honours engineering degree programme in the autumn and dropped out after two days. She has re-applied to the CAO to study languages.