Irish High School Students Have Choice of 26 Languages In Final Exams

The Sunday Tribune newspaper of 3-June-2007 is reporting that Irish students taking the Leaving Certificate exam (final year High School graduation examination/Baccalaureate, etc.) can now choose from 26 languages to be examined in.


Curricular Languages taken in Leaving Certificate 2007/2006:

English: 49,328 / 48,406

Irish: 44,937 / 43,928

French: 28,487 / 27,809

German: 7,694 / 7,371

Italian: 236 / 242

Spanish: 2728 / 2371

Russian: 188 / 176

Latin: 122 / 113

Japanese: 101 / 55

Arabic: 143 / 110

Ancient Greek: 11 / <10
Hebrew Studies: <10 / <10

Non-Curricular EU Language:

2007/ 2006

Dutch: 16 / 22

Portuguese: 28 / 22

Polish: 52 / 20

Latvian: 36 / 16

Lithuanian: 65 / 45

Romanian: 24 / n/a

Others*: 44 / 25

* Includes Modern Greek, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Czech, Hungarian, Estonian, Slovakian, Bulgarian (from 2007)

(Source: Sunday Tribune)

polish shamrock image photograph dublin may 2007

Now, this does not necessarily have any significance for the localization industry in Ireland. English clearly prevails. The figures for the non-curricular languages are the more interesting ones. They represent the increasing multiculturalism of Irish society, as they are the languages that students can opt to be examined in if it is their mother tongue.  However, given the high number of non-nationals who are now resident in Ireland, I would guess that a significant number of children of those migrants are probably opting for English over their parents’ native tongue as the examination language of choice (note that the table in the online version of newspaper reverses the order of years in the non-curricular language category).

As for the leading three curricular languages, some caveats are necessary:

1) English is a mandatory examination for students.

2) So is Irish (unless you are the offspring of non-Irish parents or were educated outside of the jurisdiction).

3) The relatively high numbers of students opting for French – when compared with its relevance in today’s globalized world must be reevaluated by policy-makers (English rules in the EU; not that everyone likes it). Let’s see Chinese and Arabic up there in future.

Interestingly, with regard to the Irish language – if a student choses to take ALL his/her exams through the medium of Irish, then he/she is entitled to extra marks. So 2+2=4 is worth more in Irish than in English! Depending on the subject, the extra marks can be worth as much as 5 or 10% more.

Ultan Ó Broin
Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally. Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.


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