Published: Thu, 21 August 2014
Irish children should begin learning a third language at primary school, according to Sean Kelly MEP.
Mr Kelly, a former school teacher, often promotes the use of Irish while addressing fellow MEPs ‘as Gaeilge’ in the European Parliament and is aware of the many job opportunities for young people with language skills.
“There are many job opportunities in EU institutions in Brussels for people who can converse and write in a second or third language. The European Parliament has suffered shortages of Irish-speaking translators while the European Commission also previously reported a shortage of native English speakers with French or German,” Mr Kelly said.
“Across Europe and in Ireland many European companies require staff that can communicate with colleagues abroad in another language and while we have a skilled, capable workforce, we are lacking in language skills.”
“Having spoken to colleagues from other Member States in the European Parliament, it seems that those with three, four or more languages were actively learning these languages from a very young age – as soon as they begin school. I do think Ireland needs to look at the wider European experience as an example of good practice in that sense.”
The Fine Gael MEP has also suggested that a greater language focus could be introduced during pre-school years to encourage an interest in languages from the earliest opportunity.