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Students can sit Ukrainian language exam at Leaving Cert level from next year

May 20, 2024

Original Article:

Students will be able to sit an official Leaving Cert exam in Ukrainian from next year.

Many adult Ukrainians who have arrived in Ireland since the Russian invasion of their country have teaching qualifications and would be able to teach dedicated classes in their language.

The classes are likely to ­be ­voluntary and separate from the school day, as Ukrainian is currently viewed as “non-curricular”.

Meanwhile, students can avail of an array of similar papers in various languages, meaning that while they are not taught in any classroom setting, they can still sit a prepared paper and earn points towards their CAO ambitions for further study.

There are exams in Latvian, ­Romanian, Slovenian, modern Greek, Finnish, ­Estonian, Slovakian, Swedish, Czech, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Danish, Dutch, Croatian and Maltese.

The Department of Education is preparing to widen the range of offered annual papers at Leaving Cert level, but is pausing the possible expansion of taught languages.

Languages Connect is the name of Ireland’s strategy for foreign ­languages in the education system, running until 2026.

Its stated aim is to increase and ­diversify the teaching and learning of foreign languages.

There are already many options for foreign language learners for the Leaving Cert. As well as French, German, Italian and Spanish, a student can take ancient Greek, Arabic, Hebrew studies, Japanese or Russian.

With many call centres and tech support operations located in Ireland, a language fluency can open many doors while often allowing the worker to work from home.

Four more curricular languages have become available since 2020 – Mandarin Chinese, Lithuanian, Polish and Portuguese. They are all available in the classroom for those sitting the Leaving Cert.

“It takes time for new languages to embed,” said a Department of Education spokesperson, explaining why there are no plans to develop and introduce further curricular languages at the moment.

“A student can, however, also sit the Leaving Cert in what is referred to as the non-curricular EU languages – those that are not part of the ­normal school curriculum, but students may opt to take if they meet certain criteria.”

Conditions are attached to sitting these exams, outlined on the state examinations website.

The Department of Education said it considered it appropriate that Ukrainian would also be examined as a non-curricular language for Leaving Cert, having regard to Ireland’s national response to the war and the principles developed for the school sector.

In August 2022, the Department requested that the State Examinations Commission (SEC) develop a Leaving Cert exam in Ukrainian as a non-curricular language.

The SEC has advised that the first exam will be available for students sitting the Leaving Cert in June next year.


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