28th November 2023: #ThinkLanguages Week, a national celebration of languages and cultures, is taking place in schools across the country this week as over 15,000 transition year students look to bring to life the many personal and professional benefits of foreign language skills. Now in its sixth year, it is the largest student celebration of languages and cultures in Ireland with this year seeing partners such as the Irish Film Institute, Business in the Community Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Higher Education Institutes joining the celebrations. TV personalities, TikTok influencers, and European representatives have also come on board to showcase where languages can take students, both personally and professionally.  

The awareness raising campaign is organised by Post Primary Languages Ireland as part of the delivery of Languages Connect – Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017 – 2026, and encourages students, and the wider community, to explore and celebrate the increased number of opportunities that foreign language skills provide. Schools nationwide are celebrating with their own festival-style event that include lineups of interactive workshops, foreign language films, national quizzes, music, dance and much more.  

The event has grown considerably since its inception six years ago, underlining the growing interest in foreign language learning in Ireland and whilst #ThinkLanguages is a school focused event, this year, Languages Connect are calling on everybody to celebrate the languages and cultures that surround them this #ThinkLanguages week. This can be done by simply watching a foreign language film, trying out a few phrases with a bilingual friend, listening to foreign language music, or attempting to prepare a recipe from another culture.  

Speaking about this year’s celebrations, Minister for Education Norma Foley TD said, “I am very impressed to hear that the number of transition year students taking part in #ThinkLanguages is up from 700 students in 2018 to 15,000 now. It is a great opportunity to recognise the multitude of languages and cultures which surround us daily. There is a great saying in Irish – our own national language – Éist le fuaim na habhann agus gheobhair breac. – Listen to the sound of the river and you will catch a trout. Being able to speak a foreign language, and learning about other cultures gives you an enormous advantage. 

 “According to the Census, there are 72 different languages with at least 500 speakers living in Ireland. I know that students have been working really hard on their #ThinkLanguages Festival line ups and have included some amazing talks which highlight the multitude of benefits of foreign language learning. I have been delighted to see the growth of #ThinkLanguages over the past six years and am looking forward to seeing how schools celebrate #ThinkLanguages 2023,” added Minister Foley. 

Director of Post-Primary Languages Ireland and the Languages Connect awareness campaign Karen Ruddock said “#ThinkLanguages is an event that we are hugely proud of and whilst it is, at its heart, an in-school event, it is growing in footprint with the inclusion of additional partners, including the Irish Film Institute, Business in the Community Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Higher Education Institutes. In line with this, this year we are encouraging everyone to take a moment this week to consider the languages and cultures that surround them including in their community, workplace and even at home, and recognise the benefits of language capacity such as additional employment and mobility opportunities, as well as the development of important skills such as empathy and communication across cultures. From science and business to media, politics and teaching, foreign language skills provide students with the edge they need to compete in the Global economy in which we operate”.  

A hugely popular offering for schools celebrating #ThinkLangauges this year comes from The Irish Film Institute (IFI). Speaking about #ThinkLanguages, Holly Furlong, IFI Education Officer commented, ‘We are delighted to partner with #ThinkLanguages Week for 2023, building on our IFI schools programme to make our Modern Foreign Language screenings further available across Ireland from 27th November to 1st December. Over 5,000 post primary school students will attend screenings of new films in French, German or Spanish as well as a Mystery language film at the Irish Film Institute or at one of 14 partner venues during the week. For those unable to make it out we have a special #ThinkLanguages Week Bundle for classroom screenings using the IFI Schools streaming platform IFI@Schools.‘ 

This year, the Department of Foreign Affairs and its A Career for EU Strategy, have also come on board to support #ThinkLanguages week as they too look to highlight the benefits of languages skills to Ireland, especially within the European context. A Career for EU are providing a fantastic opportunity for six students and two teachers to win a trip to Brussels where they will visit the European Parliament and gain an insight into what a Career for EU really looks like while also experiencing all the multicultural city has to offer.   

Business in the Community Ireland will also be celebrating #ThinkLanguages week, as they facilitate workshops which will offer students an insight into a career with languages, with many of these workshops fully booked weeks in advance. Languages will also be at the forefront of activities for thirteen Higher Education Institutions during #ThinkLanguages week, as they offer unique workshops covering several languages to students nationwide.  

Each school’s festival line up will kick off with a thrilling Opening Ceremony video with stars such as Dancing with the Stars pro Ervinas Merfeldas, who details the important role languages has played in his life. Students will also gain an insight into what it is like to live and work abroad from Tiktoker and fashion marketer Ciara Walsh and EU Parliament Official James Maher who also feature in this year’s Opening Ceremony 

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The IFI is supported
by The Arts Council

Arts Council of Ireland