From The Guardian:
A Shanghai-based Irish entrepreneur is offering free Chinese language lessons online to every citizen of the Republic. Ken Carroll told the Observer that he decided to create a free online language learning pack because of Ireland’s current economic difficulties. Speaking ahead of the programme’s official launch on Tuesday, he said: “Ireland, as a small country, has always benefited from looking to the wider world and so it makes sense to continue to do so. I don’t have any illusions about solving the country’s economic conundrum but the idea is to try to do our part. I hope it might prompt connections and business opportunities, and awareness.”
The online language service will run until the Shanghai Expo in May 2010 and also has the support of China’s foreign cultural relations body, the Han Institute.
Instruction will be given via Chinesepod. Some of the reasons given for this venture include Ireland’s economic recession, few Irish are learning Chinese, and that the tonal nature of Irish Gaelic makes learning Chinese easier for Irish speakers as compared with speakers of non-tonal languages.