Galway is now the most multilingual city in Ireland with 20 per cent of the city's population speaking a language other than Irish or English at home, according to a new report by two NUI Galway academics.
The report, entitled Language and Migration in Ireland, written by Dr Anne O’Connor and Dr Andrea Ciribuco, and which was launched recently by the Minister for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, found that around 66 different languages are spoken in the city with Polish, French, Romanian, Lithuanian, Spanish, German, Russian and Portuguese, the most widely used.
Across the State, three children in every classroom; one person in every small business; and eight people who travel on a bus every day are multilingual. There are currently 612,018 people in the Republic, or 13 per cent of the overall population, who are multilingual. The report by O’Connor and Ciribuco looks at the implications of these numbers for Ireland and questions whether Irish policies for language teaching, interpreting and integration take account of Ireland’s growing multilingualism.
"In an increasingly multilingual and multicultural Ireland," said Dr O'Connor, "it is important to examine the role language plays in the communication of cultural identities. This research project has looked at how migrants have to translate themselves into new words and new socio-cultural contexts in order to become part of a new society. It aims to bring migration and language into the public sphere in order to question models of citizenship and language policies."
The report on Language and Migration in Ireland is the result of a collaborative research between NUI Galway and the Immigrant Council of Ireland, funded by the Irish Research Council.