International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Language Teacher Education in Ireland, North and South: Policy, provision, practice, and implications
Patrick Farren, Eugene McKendry

The European Union considers modern languages among the basic skills or key competencies required by all its citizens and is concerned to promote excellence in the teaching and learning of languages as well as greater diversity in the range of languages available to learners in the Member States, as witnessed by the recent European Commission Action Plan, Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity: An Action Plan 2004-2006. This consideration, the changing socio-cultural demography of Ireland, the need for more joined-up thinking in the context of language teaching in schools, and in the context of language teacher education in particular, form the back-drop to the paper. Among the challenges facing modern/world languages’ education in Ireland identified in the paper are, lack of a languages’ policy, lack of a languages’ strategy, and lack of an integrated language curriculum and by implication, a whole school approach to language teaching and learning. The paper refers to positive signs that are occurring in this context as well, e.g. official recognition to Irish as a working language in the European Union and in the Official Languages Act in Ireland (2003). The paper reports on the recent first ever all Ireland cross-border conference in the context of language teacher education. It outlines the background, aims, and content of the conference that includes findings from a study about the impact of autonomous language teaching and learning supported by the European Language Portfolio in the context of post-primary language teacher education in Ireland. The paper shows data from the first ever survey on language teacher education provision, policy and practice across colleges in Ireland, North and South. Initial teacher education is on the cusp of change. This paper highlights several key issues facing language teacher education. This paper has implications for Irish as well as international readers, and is aimed at supporting all those who want to bring about improvement in this important area.

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