Learning a second language will give you a competitive edge

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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The demand for employees with a second language has significantly increased in recent years.

This is an area where Ireland underperforms. Our European neighbours are far more likely that us to have at least two languages. Over ninety percent of people in Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden can speak a second language.

More than half of Europeans can converse in two languages. In Ireland, most of us (60 percent) only speak one language, for the most part English. Most of us don’t speak Irish, let alone another language.

We should. Being able to speak a second language is a highly prized skill and one that many employers need.

Languages at postgrad level

Several Irish universities offer Master’s programmes in modern European languages. In addition, there are also specialised course. These include Maynooth University’s Higher Certificate in German literature and the University of Limerick’s MA in Irish-German Studies.

University College Cork offers a Higher Diploma in Advanced Languages and Global Communication. This course covers modern language and intercultural communication skills as well as competencies in managing global relationships, ICT, translation and localisation skills.

Careers with language

Anyone with two or more languages could work in a number of different fields. One of the most popular is teaching. But it is certainly not the only career. In the last few years there has been a surge in demand for translation and localisation experts. In addition, NGOs and the civil service often need staff with language skills. Other career paths to consider include publishing; media; advertising; tourism and hospitality to name a few.


Anne Sexton

Head in the cloud: NUI Galway’s MSc in Cloud Computing Research
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