It is very important that you make every effort to learn and practice English. Doing so will make living in Ireland a less stressful experience and will make iteasier to meet and befriend Irish people.
A higher standard of English will also mean that you can have greater range of employment and training possibilities open to you.
Where to learn?
Private Language SchoolsPrivate language schools in Ireland offer courses which range from basic tuition to courses leading to an internationally- recognised qualification.
The Advisory Council for English Language Schools (ACELS) oversees private English language schools in Ireland. ACELS' remit, under the Department of Education and Skills, is to promote the highest standards in the quality of educational services and to ensure that these standards are maintained. To view a list of of recognised ACELS schools, visit this link on the ACELS website.
Vocational Educational CommitteesThe Department of Education and Skills provide annual funding to Vocational Education Committees from which English Language tuition may be provided to adult migrants. In 2011, over 11,000 participants availed of English for Speakers of Other Languages. Some of English classes are free, some charge a small fee. To find a VEC near you offering English language classes, click on the following link.
Adult Refugee ProgrammeThis programme is offered by 12 Vocational Educational Committees throughout the country and is open to those with Garda National Immigration Bureau Stamp 4 status. The purpose of the Programme is to assist, as best possible, in a process of integration into Irish society and at all times during the Programme participants must be actively seeking employment. The Programme offers assistance in 3 ways:
- up-skilling English language ability,
- assistance in accessing the work/study place and,
- through social activities, increasing understanding of both the culture and the general characteristics of Ireland.
Please also see the information provided in the Managing Diversity section of our website about the VEC Adult Refugee programme.
Voluntary and other Non-Governmental OrganisationsIn addition to the above, there are a number of non-governmental organisations (NGO's) and voluntary organisations in Ireland who offer English languages classes. Many of these classes are free of charge: For example, classes are provided by:
- Failte Isteach Project, run by Third Age Foundation. The Fáilte Isteach project involves older people volunteering their time to teach conversational English to new migrants from all over the world. Fáilte Isteach now has a team of three full-time staff and one part-time, all of whom support a group of 440 volunteers who are offering a service to 1,150 migrant students from 61 countries every week. To learn more about this programme and locations where conversation classes take place follow this link.
- SPIRASI – a non-governmental organisation that works with asylum seekers, refugees and other migrant groups.
- Doras Luimni is a support organisation for migrants in the midwest, particularly Limerick and the surrounding counties which also provides English and cultural orientation classes. To learn more about enrolling in classes in September 2012, please follow this link
- The Intercultural Drop-in Centre (which is part of the Dodder Valley Partnership) offers voluntary English language classes. Intercultural volunteer tutors assist students to speak, read and write English using conversation and easy to understand text-books at a pace to suit the individual.
Local library serviceYour local library may have English language resources, such as books, DVDs, videos or cassette packs, which you can borrow and practice your English with. In addition, many libraries have internet access or open learning centres where you can practise English. For a list of libraries in you area visit the following link.
Many library services also offer conversation exchanges, where you may be able to learn English in exchange for conversing with someone in your own language. For a list of libraries in the Dublin City Council area participating in these exchanges, please visit this link to the Dublin City Libraries website. Other libraries such as Stillorgan and Deansgrange also offer language exchanges.
Additional possibilitiesIn addition to attending English language classes, there are a number of things you can do yourself to help improve your English:
- Read English language magazines and newspapers. Even if you do not understand everything, it will help you to familiarise yourself with the language
- Many websites, including the BBC website, offer free English language resources.
- Another website offering free online language classes (not only in English) is www.linguasnet.com, an EU- sponsored language initiative.
- Watch English language television. If you watch television programmes in your first language, use English subtitles whenever possible.
- Buy an English dictionary so you can look up the meaning of new words you come across on a daily basis.
- Practise your English at home. Get the whole family involved in helping each other to improve.
- Listen to the radio in English. It is helpful to have it on in the background while you are busy at home with housework etc.
- When you are at the shops or visiting a service provider, try to communicate with the person serving you in English.
- Join a local sports or community group so that you get an opportunity to speak English while you are enjoying yourself.
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