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Northern Ireland - Polish joins language options

Primary school children in Northern Ireland will have the option of learning Polish from September.

Spanish and Irish are already on offer for children aged four to eight under a government-funded language scheme.

Some 1,700 Polish children now attend the region's schools, reflecting an increased number of families settling in the area when they come to the UK from Poland. Twenty-five schools have already opted to provide lessons in the language.

Caitriona Ruane, education minister, announced the news in her end-of-year report on sport and language programmes.

"Since the programme began we have made around Pounds 1.5 million available, and during the last school year we had 323 schools and around 13,000 children participating every week," she said.

"There is clear evidence that the earlier in life children begin to learn a second language the easier it is for them to become fluent."

Young children taking part in the programme learn from a peripatetic language tutor.

It is hoped that an enjoyable learning experience will encourage pupils to continue language learning as they progress through school. MS.

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