English Language

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann pronounced [tu-izcyartˈeːrǽn], Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann or Norlin Airlan) is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west. At the time of the 2001 UK Census, its population was 1,685,000, constituting about 30% of the island's total population and about 3% of the population of the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland consists of six of the nine counties of the Irish province of Ulster. It was created as a distinct division of the United Kingdom on 3 May 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, though its constitutional roots lie in the 1800 Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. For over 50 years it had its own devolved government and parliament. These institutions were suspended in 1972 and abolished in 1973. Repeated attempts to restore self-government finally resulted in the establishment in 1998 of the present-day Northern Ireland Executive and Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly operates on consociational democracy principles requiring cross-community support.

Northern Ireland was for many years the site of a violent and bitter ethno-political conflict—the Troubles—which was caused by divisions between nationalists, who are predominantly Roman Catholic, and unionists, who are predominantly Protestant, which has been the most prevalent religion. Unionists want Northern Ireland to remain as a part of the United Kingdom, while nationalists wish for it to be politically united with the rest of Ireland, independent of British rule.Since the signing of the "Good Friday Agreement" in 1998, most of the paramilitary groups involved in the Troubles have ceased their armed campaigns.

Owing to its unique history, the issue of the symbolism, name and description of Northern Ireland is complex, as is the issue of citizenship and identity. In general, unionists consider themselves British and nationalists see themselves as Irish, though these identities are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Additionally, many people from both sides of the community consider themselves as Northern Irish.

  • INTO Queens University

    INTO Queens University

    INTO Queen’s University Belfast offers a wide range of academic programmes and English language courses designed specifically for international students.
  • International House Belfast

    International House Belfast

    IH Belfast is a specialist language school set up by a group of language teaching professionals with over 30 years experience in the field.
  • Belfast Metropolitan College

    Belfast Metropolitan College

    Belfast Metropolitan College has over 53,000 students enrolled on full-time and part-time courses, making it one of the largest colleges of Further and Higher Education in the UK.
  • Foyle Language School

    Foyle Language School

    Learn English in Northern Ireland with Foyle Language School and experience "The Best of Both Worlds".
  • North West Academy

    North West Academy

    The North West Academy of English was established in 2003 and since then has built an outstanding reputation for providing high quality English language and tailored study programmes.


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Last Updated: 30 November 2009
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