Review of Current Primary Languages in Northern IrelandResearch Report
As Northern Ireland builds on welcome recent years of peace, seeking to grow its economy and export base, and as its population as a region becomes increasingly diverse culturally and linguistically, the question of languages in education has perhaps never been so relevant. Moreover, we live in a globalized, digital age, which although enriching, highlights the need for understanding and mutual respect between cultures and language groups. Arguably this is particularly true with reference to our children and young people.
Research suggests that additional language acquisition offers significant cognitive as well as social and economic benefits, and that young learners have a particular capacity to learn a new language successfully. Although in Scotland and in England learning an additional language is a statutory part of the curriculum in primary schools, in Northern Ireland this is not yet the case. Indeed, the Primary Modern Languages Programme (PMLP) established in 2007 and offered in approximately half of our primary schools, came to an end in 2015.
It is in this context that the current study was conducted. Its principal objectives were to gather information on the PMLP, evaluating possible improvements, and secondly, to map the extent of primary languages provision in schools outside the PMLP, making recommendations for future development.