Language policy in the crossfire in Ireland: can Languages Connect deliver in the Republic of Ireland?

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The launch of Ireland’s first official language education policy Languages Connect, Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017–2026 (DES 2017) envisages wide-reaching changes for foreign language learning and teaching, both at primary and secondary sector. This study asks if the policy is equipped to address Ireland’s main challenges in language learning, and to what extent the policy’s aims have been achieved to date. For a critical analysis of documents, both Languages Connect and currently used foreign languages curricula were subjected to Critical Discourse Analysis, and for measures of policy success, latest official statistics on learning uptake were consulted. While the policy documents show some internal consistency and overlap between them in justifying and contextualising language learning for the needs of an outward-facing modern Ireland, they also fail to give coherent answers to key challenges for the Irish context, notably the relation between foreign languages and the Irish language. Comparing aims of Languages Connect with de facto uptake figures validates the limited success of the policy to date. The article concludes that a successful overhaul of foreign language learning in Ireland needs to better align rationales for multilingual competencies with European language policy, and to integrate Irish into these competencies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalIrish Education Journal
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Author(s).


  • Ireland
  • language education policy
  • foreign language learning

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