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The Post-Primary Languages Initiative

The Post-Primary Languages Initiative has been in place since September 2000 with the purpose of implementing the policy of the Department of Education & Science of diversifying, enhancing and expanding the teaching of languages in second-level schools. Italian, Japanese and Spanish were selected as the initial target languages - Spanish for the obvious reason that it is one of the three most widely spoken languages in the world; Italian for its accessibility and the cultural and business opportunities which it affords; Japanese as a gateway to Asian language and culture. In November 2001 Russian became the fourth target language in the project.


In the first phase of the Initiative under the National Development Plan 2000 - 2006, more than 250 schools participated and enjoyed such benefits as grants for the purchase of materials and allocations of supplementary teaching hours. Working in collaboration with the Languages Inspectorate of the Department of Education & Science, the Department of Japanese of the University of Limerick, (formerly) ITÉ , the NCCA and Authentik, the Initiative published text books in the target languages. (See MATERIALS). Training courses in Spanish and/or Italian were offered to practising teachers in Dublin, Cork and Sligo by DIT, UCC and NUIG respectively enabling them to refresh their language skills, re-acquaint themselves with the cultures of the countries in questions and receive training in new methodologies.

Meanwhile, Ms. Hisami Shimba, appointed by the Japan Foundation as Language Advisor to the Department of Education & Science for Japanese from 2005 to 2007, established a Resource Centre (now located in the Japanese Embassy, Merrion Centre, Nutley Lane, Ballsbridge). She facilitated teacher training and generally assisted in all aspects of the promotion and development of Japanese at second level, including the production of ‘Nihongo Kantan', the Japanese Leaving Certificate textbook.

The Languages Initiative will continue under the new National Development Plan 2007 - 2013. In the early part of this phase, Japanese will continue to be supported only in those schools which actively encourage Transition Year students to take the subject on to Leaving Certificate. Schools introducing a target language at Junior or Leaving Certificate level for the first time can apply for a grant of €1,000 and at Transition Year level, for a grant of €500. The Initiative is currently supporting a Transition Year pilot module in Russian in 14 schools.

 

Karen Ruddock
National Co-ordinator
September 2009

 


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