More College Students Studying Irish Gaelic

By Catherine Groux
Posted March 09, 2012 01:13 PM

Today, more college students are taking Irish language classes.
Today, more college students are taking Irish language classes.
Data from the Modern Language Association (MLA) shows that in 2009, the most commonly studied languages among bachelor's and master's degree seekers are Spanish, French and German. However, foreign language courses are beginning to see more diversity, as students are offered courses on languages such as Hebrew, Arabic and Russian.

Degree seekers at Washington's Catholic University, for example, have the opportunity to take an Irish language course. According to the Washington Post, 18 students enrolled in the class this year, while 20 opted to take the course last year.

Although the Irish Gaelic language was unpopular in both Ireland and the U.S. for decades, professionals say it is making a drastic revival both inside and outside of the classroom.

"There's kind of a seismic change taking place in Irish identity," Traolach O’Riordain, the director of Irish studies at the University of Montana, told the Post. "It's more common to hear the language spoken in cities now, compared with 30 or 40 years ago ... These kids are coming out and they’re forming Irish-speaking clubs and associations."

According to the MLA, in 2009 there were about 409 students in the U.S. taking Irish language courses, compared to only 28 in 1980.

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