Irish language pack for schools stresses rights


STUDENTS FROM Coláiste na Coiribe in Galway were told yesterday by the official Irish Language Commissioner that they were “guardians of an important and endangered aspect of world heritage”.

The students were present at the launch of a new information pack which is to be presented to every second-level school in the country by An Coimisinéir Teanga Seán Ó Cuirreáin.

The multimedia educational initiative developed by his office in An Spidéal, Co Galway, aims to give students an insight into language rights in the overall context of universal civil and human rights.

Bilingual lessons and projects on the theme will be taught as part of the Junior Certificate course in civil, social and political education, Mr Ó Cuirreáin said yesterday.

The initiative was also endorsed by Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley.

The Junior Cert module will address the advantages and challenges of multilingualism, and explore the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The pack for classes includes an award-winning short film, Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom (My Name Is Yu Ming), about a young Chinese man who learns Irish before visiting Ireland. He experiences communications difficulties at first, until he finds himself a job as a barman in the Gaeltacht.

Images of Irish national identity compiled by Nuacht TG4/RTÉ with a soundtrack from The Coronas will form part of a lesson on culture and nationality.

A novel element is the inclusion of a set of task cards that will ask students to explain elements of Irish society to a visiting Martian. Another lesson involves developing bilingual stationery and signage.

Mr Ó Cuirreáin said that the initiative had been tested in 15 schools on a pilot basis last year.

He explained that the module can be taught through Irish, through English or bilingually.

“More than anything else, this project should ensure that students are given a context for their learning of Irish in schools and that they understand and respect the concept of language rights,” he said.

Mr Ó Cuirreáín forecast that it could be “potentially the most important initiative undertaken by this office since its establishment, if it sees significant numbers of students each year being taught the importance of language rights”.