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Rethink on teaching foreign languages needed

February 28, 2012

I don’t think the Government should resurrect Enda Kenny’s proposal to downgrade Irish at senior level (Matt Cooper, Feb 24), but it should revisit the counterproductive and asinine decision to scrap continental languages in national schools.

It was heartbreaking to watch the recent news item on RTÉ showing an enthusiastic Italian teacher with her pupils, who were obviously greatly enjoying learning the Italian language and culture — and knowing their course was going to be axed very soon.

As one who was lucky enough to be reared bilingually — in English and French — I can testify to the enormous advantage of learning different languages at a young age. Grammar was taught, but it took a back seat, which meant that it made more sense and was far less boring than grammar taught in the traditional way.

This combination enabled me to learn other languages, including Irish, relatively quickly later in life. I believe children who attend Gaelscoileanna also tend to be more proficient in other languages.

There is no reason why Irish people cannot become proficient in several languages. This would not only be an immense advantage in the hard and competitive economic world — so the initial outlay would soon be recouped — but enable people to fully enjoy other countries’ cultures.

Judy Peddle
Love Lane
Co Cork