The Education Service with Conall McDevitt MLA hosted an event in Parliament Buildings on 26 September to mark European Day of Languages 2012. The event involved around 75 Year 14 students from Aquinas Grammar School, Methodist College, Rathmore Grammar School, and Wellington College.

This was an interactive day in Spanish with students comparing the Irish, Spanish and UK Governments, discussing environmental issues and suggesting recommendations for politicians.

Conall McDevitt MLA is a fluent Spanish speaker: “This offers a unique opportunity for Spanish students across Belfast to live the language they are learning and better understand its application across aspects of society including politics and government. Languages are undervalued and under resourced in Northern Ireland. Encouraging students to see the real opportunity in language study is a significant priority of mine and I believe should be a priority of the Assembly and the Executive.”

Paloma Rivas presented the role and remit of the NI Assembly in Spanish.  This was particularly relevant for the A2 topic of Democracy and Conflict.  Pupils then worked in teams to discuss what they felt were key environmental issues in NI at the moment.  These ranged from use of public transport to plastic bags as well as fracking.  A spokesperson summarised their group’s findings and gave their feedback in Spanish to their local MLA with their recommendations.