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The importance of language learning for employment, education and intercultural understanding was highlighted at the launch of a new group promoting language learning in Ireland.
One Voice for Languages is a group of over 200 linguists, academics, teachers, parents, arts representatives and business leaders who have come together to highlight Ireland’s deficit in 21st century language skills and the diminishing status of language learning in the Irish education system.
Responding to repeated calls from industry leaders, employment specialists and experienced linguists, the group is seeking to raise awareness of the critical importance of language learning not only in terms of increasing employment possibilities and meeting industry needs, but also its broader value in the spheres of education, the arts and in the context of supporting social cohesion and intercultural understanding.
The group was officially launched at an event in Dublin hosted by Trinity’s School of Education and School of Languages, Literature and Cultural Studies on 14 November 2013. This is the first time that the support of language teaching and learning, including the teaching of Irish Sign Language, is being addressed by an umbrella group representing all levels of the education system, as well as business leaders and social entrepreneurs.
The One Voice for Languages group seeks to highlight how important languages are for Ireland, not only in terms of skills for the economy but also in terms of societal and cultural benefits. It was noted that the Ireland of today is indeed a rich tapestry of languages. The last census indicated that there are over 160 languages spoken in Ireland today and the group hopes to support the Irish Government in capitalising on the significant varied language and cultural backgrounds of our 21st century population and to equip Irish young people with the language skills they need to function in a country and a world where understanding across cultures is key.