Broadcaster and television personality Hector Ó’hEochagáin has launched this year’s Euro Languages College (ELC) for second-level students across Ireland.
Like the Gaeltacht experience but for European languages, this year’s slate of courses commences on June 6th, offering Junior and Leaving Certificate residential courses in French, Spanish and German at established boarding schools with spacious grounds and sporting facilities such as Clongowes Wood in Clane, County Kildare, Villiers School in Limerick and Bandon Grammar School in Cork, St Flannan’s College in Ennis and Wilson’s Hospital School in Westmeath.
Hector, who is fluent in both Spanish and Irish, says that “having a second language opens doors. At an ELC course, students can brush up on their language skills and exam texts, have fun and make friends for life all at the same time. It’s like the Gaeltacht experience, only for global languages instead!”
Running from June until the end of August, individual courses last just under three weeks and involve over 40 hours of formal learning with native French, German and Spanish speaking staff providing a linguistic and cultural dimension. Classes take place six days a week for half of the day, separate courses cover the Junior and Leaving Certificate exams with the majority of students reporting an improvement in their overall grade – and a wide range and choice of activities in the afternoons and evenings.
Costing around €80 a day for full tuition and board, the learning opportunity is equivalent to half an academic year of school tuition and has the advantage of being a totally immersive languages experience and according to a recent survey of of ELC students, 8 out of 10 students improved their conversational skills and pronunciation, and felt more confident about their written and oral exams according to Padraig Ryan, Managing Director of ELC, a Galway-based business that has provided summer residential language courses for over 30 years in Ireland.
He notes “ELC is excellent value when compared to grinds costing €50 an hour! Plus, very importantly, after the couple of years we’ve had, our courses are not confined to a classroom, but involve cultural, sporting, and recreational activity too. This lowers anxiety, so young people learn in a relaxed way, experiencing the language fully”.
Comments Padraig “for instance, during the summer a parent rang the office to tell us that all her children had attended ELC courses, one of her boys who disliked French before attending the ELC course is now doing a Masters in European Studies in Brussels, after developing a love for the French language & culture. Another parent whose daughter attended the ELC courses in 2021, described the course as a life saver, it brought a sense of normality to her life during the pandemic, she is aiming for a high grade and the course has improved her oral and aural preparation beyond recognition for Leaving Cert 2022.”
Former student Jane Madden comments “The thing I love most about ELC is that it gives you the full language and cultural immersion without the anxiety of going abroad. It has also given me friends for life, and I am still in regular contact with those I met on both courses from all those years ago. Since then, I have gone on to complete a degree in Business, Economic and Social Studies (BESS) from Trinity College Dublin and in my third year, I had the opportunity to do an Erasmus in Rouen, France. I even returned to ELC last summer as an assistant course manager to spread my love for French and I was delighted to see the students’ immense progress in the language over such a short period of time. Currently, I am completing a traineeship with the European Parliament in Luxembourg, where I use my French daily. None of this would have been possible if it was not for the language skills I learned in ELC. I strongly recommend anyone considering in doing a course to take the leap and sign up, you won’t regret it!”
Finally, Lauren from Meath who says “going to France on holiday with my family after the summer course really emphasized to me how much ELC has helped my French. It was such a pleasure to be able to have proper conversations with the locals and one shop owner even asked me what region in France I was from! – safe to assume he didn’t know where Navan was! ELC has given me a love of the language and the culture and I’m considering putting it on the CAO. Not to mention I have made friends for life all around Ireland. I could never have imagined gaining so much academically and socially – I have so many unforgettable memories and met people who I learned so much from – both teachers and students. It was the experience of a lifetime and I just wanted to thank you.”