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Extra foreign language teachers announced

Wednesday, 29th August, 2018 4:51pm

The number of foreign language assistants in Irish schools is to be increased by 25 per cent, Education and Skills Minister Richard Bruton has announced.

The increase, announced recently by Minister Bruton, will bring the total number of foreign language assistants (FLAs) available to schools to 140 from September.

The announcement is part of the Government’s commitment to doubling the number of FLAs available to schools by 2026 under their Foreign Languages Strategy launched last year. The additional assistants will support the teaching of Spanish, German, French and Italian in the classroom.

In the context of Brexit and the increasing importance globally of non-English speaking countries, Minister Bruton is taking action to ensure Ireland is well prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, Ireland will be one of only two English speaking countries in the Union. The Government are committed to ensuring Ireland is prepared for a changed European dynamic.

The role of the foreign language assistant is to support foreign language teachers in promoting a communicative approach to the teaching of the language. The scheme is reciprocal, also allowing Irish students or qualified teachers to act as English language assistants (ELAs) to spend time teaching in other countries.

It is hoped the fluency and authenticity of the assistants as native speakers should enable them to help and encourage students to understand and speak the spoken language, read texts at their level of ability and give them a better understanding of the way of life and customs of the language’s country.

Speaking about the announcement, Minister Bruton said: “If we want to have the best education and training service in Europe by 2026, we must make the teaching and learning of foreign languages a key priority. Brexit and the increasing importance of non-English speaking countries globally mean that English-speaking countries such as our own will need to put a new found importance on foreign languages in order to excel in the modern world.”

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