Winners of the #ThinkLanguages Champion Team Final, students of Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone, being presented their award by Minister for Education Norma Foley TD at the Department of Education today. From L-R: Teresa Detoche, Hannah Murray, Ella Scullion, Minister for Education Norma Foley TD, Cindy Zhang, Eilish Brehany and Mia Daly

Our Lady's Bower wins national #ThinkLanguages competition

Our Lady's Bower, Athlone, has been announced as the winner of the national #ThinkLanguages competition for a trip to Brussels.

The competition is part of #ThinkLanguages week which took place between November 27 and December 1 and is a joint collaboration between Post Primary Languages Ireland (PPLI) and the Department of Foreign Affairs under Languages Connect and the Career for EU strategy.

#ThinkLanguages is an annual event for Transition Year (TY) students, celebrating languages inside and outside of the classroom and thinking about how languages can enhance life’s opportunities.

Minister Foley said: “I am delighted to present this prize for the #ThinkLanguages Champion Team to Our Lady's Bower, Athlone. All the schools involved have shown great creativity, teamwork and enthusiasm for languages and the competition was fierce. I want to congratulate the three finalists for being chosen as Champion Teams”

Minister Foley added: “The Department is committed to increasing and diversifying the foreign languages taught and learnt in our schools and I know that through participation in the #ThinkLanguages event, TY students will gain an appreciation of the benefits of learning languages, not only for future career options in a globalised world, but for social and cultural interactions”.

Minister of State for European Affairs and Defence Peter Burke said: "I would encourage the students participating in #ThinkLanguages to keep up their language studies at third level and beyond. There are a large number of exciting opportunities for young people to pursue careers in EU institutions such as the European Parliament or European Commission, and having a second EU language is vital for pursuing these careers. Both English and Irish (as well as French, Spanish, German, Polish, etc) are among the 24 official EU languages.

"The work of the EU is wide-ranging, so it recruits people with a variety of skill sets and backgrounds such as (but not limited to) law, science, economics, agriculture, technology and languages. It is a rewarding career path in which you would work to improve the lives of 450 million EU citizens, and your interest in languages will certainly help you to get there."

Some 180 schools and over 15,000 TY students participated in the event this year, by holding a languages event in their school celebrating the personal, social and career benefits of foreign language learning.

Schools are encouraged to welcome local speakers, involving school staff and students, engaging with local businesses and organisations for a wide variety of language filled activities, talks, games and workshops. Supports and resources are provided by PPLI including instructional videos, pre-recorded Opening Ceremony and language workshops, resources and event kits.

Schools submitted the line up for their event in order to be chosen for entry into the competition and a panel of field judges visited the selected schools during #ThinkLanguages week to meet the teams and see their activities. Three schools were shortlisted:

- Our Lady’s Bower in Athlone

- Killarney Community College and

- Our Lady of Mercy, Waterford.

The winning team from Athlone and two teachers will get the opportunity to visit Brussels and the various EU institutions and sites as well as a visit to the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU, Ireland’s largest diplomatic mission abroad.