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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 19, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

    ‘Absolutely essential that Irish is taught effectively’

    Pól Ó Muirí

    The Irish-language group, Conradh na Gaeilge, want an integrated course for Irish in schools to be established immediately. President of Conradh na Gaeilge, Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa, said that it was “absolutely essential that Irish is taught effectively throughout our education system, and we are recommending that a proper fully integrated and graded course for the Irish language, from pre-school to third level, be put into effect without delay.”

     Mac Fhearghusa made his comments as a delegation from Conradh na Gaeilge, Ireland’s oldest Irish-language group, prepares to meet the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Gaeltacht Affairs tomorrow in Dublin to discuss the Government’s Draft 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language.

    The group will also argue that equal status be given to Irish on bilingual road signs; that the public service adopt a recruitment policy that encourages the employment of bilingual members of staff and that the new language authority, údarás na Gaeilge, mentioned in the strategy continues to support enterprise and employment in Gaeltacht areas.

    General Secretary of the organisation, Julian de Spáinn, said that the public have a vital role to play in the implementation of the strategy and the group believed it was vital that Irish-language institutions were responsible for the Gaeltacht and Gaeltacht communities: “In terms of our language and culture, the people of the Gaeltacht are entitled to special recognition; the long-term sustainability of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht would be at risk if the general public treat the language with indifference and if the State refuses to accept its importance. We believe that it is crucial that the new authority noted in the strategy continues to have a responsibility for the creation of employment in the Gaeltacht areas, as Údarás na Gaeltachta has done to date, and that adequate resources are provided for the Authority to do so.”

    The meeting of the joint committee will be broadcast live on TG4 between 2pm and 4.30pm

    • paul m says:

      i caught a really interesting piece in saturdays time about the emergence of an ever increasing number of city people speaking pidgin irish. I was wondering what your thoughts are on this?

      One important aspect raised was how neither the fully gaeltacht nor the the ‘urban irish’ (as it was daubed) speakers have the ear to listen to each other, citing each being to hard on the ear for the other.

      I think its vitally important to make sure that fully fledged conradh members dont adopt a very conservative atttitude to the emergence of peoples efforts to speak an teanga naisunta albeit quite basically and can hopefully jump in to help correct it rather than adopt one system of school learning.

      I’d hate to see this go the way of the GAA councils struggle to come to terms with certain aspects of modernity that now in hindsight weren’t as bad as first perceived.

    • Yes, it was a very interesing piece by Brian Ó Broin. I learned my Irish in West Belfast but was always encouraged to go to the Gaeltacht to listen and speak Irish. Good advice but not something that all young urban Irish speakers in the North now follow – and it is their loss. Agree that modernity is not something to be frightened of but there still exists a great wealth of expressive Irish in Gaeltacht which any young person of talent would find useful.

    • Seán Ó hAdhmaill says:

      Educationalists in the Irish-medium sector have long-lauded Séidean Sí, COGG’s Irish-language integrated course aimed at gaelscoileanna.

      Therefore I would wholeheartedly with a similar course for national schools.

      Our education systems our extremely important parts of the puzzle to the continued revival of the Irish-language and one that could do with more active support from government.

      A further effort in this direction could be the establishment of an Irish-medium Education Section within the Dept. of Education and Science aimed at strategically planning the establishment of Gaelchampais (Irish-medium education campuses where children would attend a naíonra, gaelscoil & gaelcholáiste, and perhaps even do FETAC courses there) throughout the state.

      English-medium schools should be facilated and supported in transferring into Irish-medium schools or part-immersion schools where a gaelscoil (and gaelcholáiste) already exist(s).

      The example of the Basque Country could be followed by supporting teachers in a year’s upskilling (in Irish language competency).

      The vast majority of primary school children there are being taught Basque at least 50% of the time, along with Spanish and English.

      There are proven benefits of the biligual education received and immersion education models used in Irish-medium schools.

      If we are to be consistently competitive internationally we should give the next generation the advantages that many of our generation weren’t.

      According to Colin Baker, Professor of Education and Pro Vice Chancellor of Bangor University speaking at GAELSCOILEANNA’s Conference in 2008:

      “There is evidence compiled for the World Bank that bilingual education is economically advantageous due to its creation of higher achievement, a more skilled workforce and less unemployment,” said Professor Baker. “Children who learn through bilingual education, such as is provided to a high level through Irish medium education, have a better understanding of different cultures, show a greater propensity for learning additional languages later on, and benefit from the greater demand for multiple language skills in an increasingly global economy.”

    • Réamonn Ó Ciaráin says:

      The Gaeltacht is, and always has been ‘Tobar na Gaeilge’ and special Governmental initiatives and financial strategies are required to protect this native and natural cultural resource.

      In the last year the Department of Education and Science cut a small capital grant which helped to pay for teaching staff working in Gaeltacht Summer Colleges. This saved the Government c. €1.25m p.a. but resulted in an increase in course fees, paid by cash-strapped parents. This makes it more expensive for students to attend Gaeltacht courses and leads to a decrease in the numbers doing so and ultimately less income for Gaeltacht areas which already have high levels of unemployment. Decisions made by the Government in Dáil Éireann also effect students from the North of Ireland who attend Gaeltacht courses. Ministers should bear in mind that certain items of legislation impact on the whole Island.

      Why did the Department of Education and Science increase the marks available for Oral Irish at Junior Cert, which is optional, and at Leaving Cert which is compulsory and in the same year make it financially more difficult for students to avail of Gaeltacht Summer courses, North and South, which help so much to improve spoken Irish.

    • Ní mór tuilleadh béime a chur ar an gcomhréir i dteagasc na Gaeilge. Ba é mo bharúil riamh gurb í an difríocht is mó idir Gaeilge na Gaeltachta agus Gaeilge na bhfoghlaimeoirí ná an chomhréir, nó fiú nuair a bhíonn stór focal millteanach ag an scríbhneoir Galltachta, is dual dó botúin chomhréire a dhéanamh nach rithfeadh leis an scríbhneoir Gaeltachta ar aon nós.

    • Diamuid Breatnach says:

      It would be good to have an integrated course and that the development of the Gaeltacht areas be Irish-language-sensitive (at least). It would also be progressive to promote the employment of bilinguals in the public services. However, the most crucial step is to increase the use and visibility of Irish RIGHT NOW. Public services should be obliged to use the Irish form of their address and their staff encouraged to use simple phrases. A badge and poster system that advertises the availability of Irish is needed ( and perhaps the level of ability — NOT the fáinne system — from “fáilte roimh Ghaeilge” to “tá cúpla focal agam”).

      Some work also needs to be done to deal with the issue of “manners”, whereby two or more people speaking in Irish are expected to convert the conversation to Irish when joined by a person not competent in Irish.

      It is absolutely imperative to increase the visibility, audibility and use of Irish. Research has shown that capability in Irish reduces with the majority of the population as years go on due to the scarcity of “domains of Irish” (Ó Glíosáin). Beir bua, Diarmuid
      PS: Please see my Facebook group “Let’s get 1,000 people to put their address in Irish and say ‘Go raibh maith agat’ to bus drivers”.

    • Séamus Ó Flaithbheartaigh says:

      Aontaím le formór an mhéid thuas, cé nach dtagaim leis an dtagairt ag paul n do “fully fledged Conradh members.” Tá réimse in iompair Gaeilgeoirí chomh maith le chuile dhream eile – agus tá seanchleachtadh againne Gaeilgeoirí ar bheith ag éisteacht le scéalta faoin mbealach nár múineadh an Ghaeilge i gceart.

      Is ait liom an réiteach sa seirbhís phoiblí. Níl bealach ar bith le teacht ar sheirbhís guthán ach tré éisteach ar an nguthán le scéal fada as Béarla, agus cnaipí a bhrú dá réir. Nach cóir do gach seirbhís rogha Ga/Béarla a thabhairt ar an gcéad cnaipe, mar atá ar fáil i gQuebec, agus go leor seirbhísí poibli agus príobháideachs i SAM? Agus tá stadas ar leith ag an mBéarla i SAM! Creidim féin go bhfuil cuid mhaith fostaithe sa seirbhís poiblí le Gaeilge réasúnta nó maith.

      Maidir le saghasanna nó canúin cathrach/Galltachta, bhí an-agallamh ar RnaG cupla lá ó shoin, ach is iondúil sa nGalltacht nach ndéantar idirdhealú rialta nó in aon chor idir inscní focal, nach dtugtar aitheantas do shéimhithe agus, an rud is measa, go bhfuil ord na bhfocal bun os cionn.

    • It is very difficult to see how Irish can be taught effectively in the schools or that education through Irish will prosper as long as both remain in the hands of a totally English speaking Government department.

      For any language policy to succeed, Irish speakers must to be placed in full control of education through Irish at all levels, primary, secondary, and third level, with English speakers in an advisory capacity only.

      However English speakers in power in the Department of Education will never cede this control to people whose language they are unable to speak and which they hardly understand. But let there be no mistake. As long as control of Irish language education remains in the hands of English speakers – people whose preferred means of daily communication is English – Irish will continue to decline, particularly in the Gaeltacht. In the rest of the country, as has been pointed out, Irish will develop into a pigin with very little prospect of becoming a creole, apart from a tiny percentage of Irish speaking families.

    • This is the link for Brian Ó Bróin’s piece: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2010/0116/1224262447899.html

      It’s fascinating. Of course, the Irish that is developing in urban areas is a pidgin. What else could it be? The image of the person who speaks Irish “fluently” but can’t bear to listen to Raidió na Gaeltachta doesn’t add up. If you spoke French, would it pain you to listen to the news on TV5, even if the accent were that of Paris, Calais or Marseilles?

      It doesn’t add up. They standardised the spelling in the the ‘fifties but it seems widely ignored. They didn’t even bother to introduced received pronounciation. No wonder everybody is on a different page and can’t speak to each other.

      Tá súil agam go gcuirfidh Conradh na Gaeilge modh oideachais na Gaeilge nua ar siúl, ach níl mórán dóchas agam. Caithfear radharc nua a bhunú agus fíor-chaighdeán a thógáil. Bíonn faitíos orainn i gcónaí sa dtír seo roimh oibre nó chaighdeáin nó stró – caithfear fód a sheasamh aimsir éigin, agus tá sé chomh maith dúinn inniu ná amárach.

    • Val Healey says:

      Loonacy from the Past – Gealtachas as an t-am atá thart

      Present day Gaelic grammar undoubtedly came from behind the very high wall of a looney bin. The loonguists kicked the neuter gender off the planet and now, to determine which gender a Gaelic word belongs to, at least 28 rules have to be applied. Even after that strenuous effort, further rules may have to be applied by examining the last 2 to 6 letters of the word. What a waste of time, effort and lives!

      In the vastly more sensible English language, the gender of nouns – feminine, masculine or neuter, can be determined by inspection in a few seconds.

      The nonsense continues, almost ad infinitum, when it comes to plurals. The singular Gaelic word for (one) shoe is bróg (pronounced: brogue). The plural (more than one shoe) is bróga (pronounced: bro-ga). The singular of the word for song is amhrán (pronounced: ow-rawn with a long a). The plural – songs – is amhraín (pronounced: ow-raw-een, with the stress on the ee). If I had my way, it would be brógai and
      amhráni, etc, etc. for ALL other plurals. Dictionaries very rarely give the plurals
      because they vary so much. The spellings of many words constantly change depending
      on the whims of the loony rules, where they are located in the sentence, etc.

      Imagine going through those rules for tens of thousands of words – phew, my inclination is to start a revolution on that grammar. First step, bring back that neuter gender.

      I say we need a high pressure hose to clean out these stupid-beyond-belief rules and simplify the grammar to give our Gaelic language a much better chance of surviving.This would not make huge changes in the spoken language but would drastically shorten the time and effort required to acquire a good knowledge of the language.

    • Val, I thought the neuter fell out of use naturally though its influence is still to be found in placenames. Are you saying we should simplify grammar by adding neuter or turning all masc and fem nouns into neuter ones? Not possible. Also, the fact that Irish has only two genders means it is actually easier to learn than, say, German with three. No?

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