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Irish in vogue as foreign languages fall out of favour

August 13, 2014

More Leaving Cert students may be brushing up on their Irish, but foreign languages, in demand from employers, are losing favour.

Growing numbers of candidates are opting for higher level Irish, up to 40pc this year, showing a steady rise from 37pc two years age.

It is attributed to a change introduced some years ago to award up to 40pc of marks for the oral side of the exam. The initiative is achieving its aim, with 18,134 higher level candidates this year, compared with 16,665 in 2013.

Students clearly are much more comfortable chatting as Gaeilge to the examiners than grappling with the grammatical constructions of the native tongue.

However, while more students are opting for higher level Irish, big numbers still avoid the subjects. About 20pc of Leaving Certificate students are excused from the 
otherwise compulsory requirement to study Irish, either because of a learning difficulty or because they were not in the Irish education system before a certain age.

Meanwhile, there is an ongoing decline in the numbers taking French and German.

Tony Donohoe of the employers’ organisation, noted that this year less than13pc of candidates took German, while 49pc took French.

“We continue to see significant numbers of unfilled job vacancies 
that require modern languages.

“It’s vital that we don’t find ourselves at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to selling into global markets and attracting foreign investment,” Mr Donohoe said.

Katherine Donnelly

Irish Independent