Postgraduate Language Courses

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Irish people have suffered the same (albeit largely self-inflicted) fate as other countries in the Anglophone world in being largely monolingual. Thankfully, that attitude is changing with the ever-expanding range of language courses available. This reflects the growing hunger in Irish people for expressing themselves in a foreign language, beyond stock phrases such as – Dos cervezas, por favor!

Researchers the world over are increasingly convinced of the mental benefits of knowing more than one language. In their book, In Other Words: The Science and Psychology of Second-Language Acquisition (1994), Ellen Bialystock and Kenji Hakuta found that the “the knowledge of two languages is greater than the sum of its parts”. As well as the obvious fluency in two languages, the added benefits of bilingualism include a greater talent for mathematical problem-solving and higher levels of literacy.

Why take langauge cCourses?

Perhaps the most common reason for taking a language course these days is to enhance career prospects. Language skills are increasingly important in the workplace, as businesses build bridges with companies not only in Paris and Berlin but also in Shanghai and Zagreb, amongst others. Irish people working for multinational companies are regularly transferred abroad for long periods of time, while others decide to live and work in a foreign culture for a spell to gain new life and work experiences. People often learn a language in advance to make the transition into a new culture as easy as possible.

Another widespread reason to take a language course is in preparation for a holiday or trip abroad – so you can ask directions and order food like a native. Some people continue to learn a language due to a continuing interest in a foreign culture. Others take specialised business language courses, which teach you all about raising profits and cutting costs in another language. Some people learn a new language so they can talk with their new in-laws, or to brush up on a language, studied in school but now lying dormant at the back of their mind. Whatever your reasons, this guide will list a course for you.

Which languages to choose from?

The most popular languages are still French, Spanish, Italian and German, in that order. However, other more exotic tongues, such as Japanese, Czech and Arabic, are becoming popular. These less familiar languages are generally offered at beginners’ level and, while it may be daunting to consider starting from scratch, remember that you will be brought up to a good standard fairly quickly. Intermediate and expert classes in most European languages are available from a wide variety of training providers.

When sourcing a language class, there are a number of questions that you should ask prior to making your decision. First of all, how qualified is the instructor? Do they have teaching experience? You should also find out what size the classes are going to be – up to eight students can be optimum, but this can vary depending on the subject and teaching style. It is also important that you are put in a class that suits your fluency level. If it is too easy, then you won’t learn much, but if it is too hard then your confidence will suffer. Talk to the teacher beforehand to find out if you will fit in.

In summary, if you want to make friends and influence people in foreign countries, then why not consider taking up a language? Check out the listings that follow to find out how…


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