Positive employment prospects for graduates ‘le Gaeilge’
Official Languages Act and EU status have opened doors for grads with Irish qualifications
Students seeking to study through Irish are attracted by prospect of well-paid jobs interpreting and translating in EU. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images
Whether you have gaeilge líofa or gaeilge bhriste, a postgrad “as Gaeilge” could be the masters for you.
New employment opportunities have emerged in recent years for graduates with skills in the language, especially since the introduction of the Official Languages Act 2003 and the recognition of Irish as an official working language in the European Union.
Students seeking to study through Irish are attracted by the prospect of well-paid jobs interpreting and translating texts and legislation into Irish in the EU’s institutions, mainly in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg.
Currently, State bodies, including Government departments, are obliged to include no less than 6 per cent Irish speakers on panels.
One-fifth of places on public service application panels will be filled by people able to speak Irish fluently, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny has previously pledged.
Foras na Gaeilge said there were 182 barristers who had registered that they could provide a service in Irish and that at least 194 translators were accredited by Foras na Gaeilge.
Foras na Gaeilge recently attended the GradIreland fair in the RDS Dublin, where it spoke to second-level and third-level students who had fluent Irish at one stage, but might have lost their proficiency over time.
Anna Davitt, communications officer with Foras na Gaeilge, said students were eager to find out how they could re-engage with Irish professionally and personally, and to know what opportunities were available to them.
Davitt says students are keen to find out how Irish gives them an advantage in terms of employability and additional skills.
“There was a lot of interest in the area of translation, particularly in regard to the EU recruitment drive for translators and lawyer-linguists with fluent Irish. We had a lot of interest from students visiting Ireland from abroad who were already learning Irish or interested in learning Irish. We provided an insight into working in the areas of Irish language media, translation and interpretation, language planning, law, culture and the arts, the public sector and education,” says Davitt.
Foras na Gaeilge recently launched its Do Ghairm le Gaeilge (Your Career with Irish) awareness campaign in association with Grad Ireland.
This campaign is aimed at undergraduates and will seek to draw attention to the benefit of working with bilingualism and fluency in Irish in the workplace, whether by encouraging students to mention Irish language competency on their CVs when applying for posts, using their Irish in the jobs they will have in the future, choosing postgraduate degrees in Irish, as well as applying for jobs in the Irish language sector.
Chief executive of Foras na Gaeilge, Seán Ó Coinn, said he hoped the campaign would influence young people as they considered the long-term relationship they would have with the language.
“We would like to show students how worthwhile it is to develop their fluency so they understand the various possibilities for working in different areas through Irish, including teaching, translation, law and media,” he said.
Foras na Gaeilge has produced a guidebook online that gives practical advice and valuable information on training courses and work opportunities through the Irish language.
Online material has been developed, including videos of interviews with careers ambassadors from different fields in which they describe the advantage the Irish language has given them in their working life to date.
Dr Cathal Billings is a lecturer in modern Irish at the School of Irish at UCD, which offers the popular MA in Scríobh agus Cumarsáid, aimed at writing and communications, media studies, translation and interpreting; and the MA in modern Irish, which is geared towards literature and language
Dr Billings says the MA in Scríobh agus Cumarsáid is attractive to students from diverse backgrounds.
“Most of our students would come from doing a BA with Irish as a main subjects, while a lot of students come from doing a BA in modern languages. They might have done other languages than Irish, but they have competency and aptitude for languages so they can come into the course,” he says.
Billings says students who haven’t engaged with the Irish language since school should not be deterred from doing a postgrad through Irish.
“If someone hasn’t done Irish in their undergraduate degree, they can do an entrance exam and an interview to assess their level of Irish. We get people from all kinds of undergrads; from medical to psychology students who come back to do a master’s in Irish. We get a lot of teachers returning to study and a lot of professionals from a wide range of areas who want to reskill with Irish,” says Billings.
“We currently have a student on the MA in Scríobh agus Cumarsáid that works with a tech multinational who has French and Spanish for her job, but wants to take Irish in order to do translation,” he says.
Billings says while the MA in Scríobh agus Cumarsáid is aimed at people who want to work in translation jobs in the Irish language unit in the European Commission, council or parliament, students have gone in different directions.
“We have had quite a lot students taking jobs in the Irish language media . . . RTÉ, Radio na Gaeltachta, TG4, Irish language administration or Irish language promotion bodies, Conradh na Gaeilge and government bodies,” he says.
“We assess every student’s level of Irish before they come into the course because every course is taught through the medium of Irish and we expect a high level of fluency.
“We have language classes that can help students, but a 2.1 degree in a modern Irish in your undergrad would be the most desirable level, but we also have people coming back to do masters who have not done Irish since the Leaving Cert,” he says.
The following is a selection of available postgraduate courses.
Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (TEG)
Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (TEG) is a system of general Irish language proficiency examinations and qualifications for adult learners of Irish. It is administered by the Centre for Irish Language at Maynooth University. TEG exams give candidates an opportunity to show their ability in speaking, listening, reading and writing Irish at different levels, from absolute beginner to intermediate and advanced levels. Exams are offered at five levels and are taken each year by candidates with various levels of fluency. Candidates also have the option of taking the oral exam only, with a view to gaining specific certification in the spoken language.
As well as being the preferred method for learners to make progress in the language, a number of organisations now use TEG exams in recruitment and selection procedures as a means of ensuring that potential employees/students have the required language skills. These include the Public Appointments Service, the Department of Education and Skills, the Teaching Council and the Fulbright Commission. See teg.ie for more
Fiontar agus Scoil na Gaeilge at DCU Dublin City University’s Fiontar (Venture) agus Scoil na Gaeilge is an interdisciplinary school established last year as part of the university's incorporation programme, with Church of Ireland College of Education; DCU; Mater Dei Institute of Education and St Patrick's College, Drumcondra coming together. The new school covers a diverse range of subjects, from literature, heritage, folklore, to sociolinguistics, business, information technology, multimedia, contemporary finance and enterprise.
MSc i nGnó agus i dTeicneolaíocht an Eolais. (MSc in Business and Information Technology) This programme provides an opportunity for students to add to the broad educational and work expertise they already possess by gaining IT and business skills that will equip them for the workplace in either the public or private sector.
The DCU Fees Booklet 2016-17 outlines the fees for the MSc i nGnó agus i dTeicneolaíocht an Eolais programme which are €6,750 (FT) and €3,600 (PT) in 2016-17.
The programme can be taken on either a full-time or a part-time basis. Students studying full-time will normally complete the programme in one academic year (two semesters). Part-time students will usually complete the programme in two years over 10-12 weekends on campus.
MA i Léann na Gaeilge (MA in Irish) This programme hones specific academic skills while engaging in a deep exploration of the Irish language, its literature and heritage. Students will be guided in a range of methods to help improve research and analytical capacity through the acquisition of basic research skills and engagement with various types and sources of information. For the dissertation, students will focus on a specific area of research that draws on the candidate's experience, background, undergraduate degree and modules covered on the programme. It may be completed as a one-year full-time programme or a two-year part-time programme.
Gaelchultúr – Coláiste na hÉireann Coláiste na hÉireann is the first Irish language third-level institute. It came into existence in the summer of 2013 when Gaelchultúr was awarded the status of third-level college by Hetac.
The Dioplóma Iarchéime san Aistriúchán course runs for three semesters and is aimed at those who already have a good standard of Irish but who wish to learn translation skills or to enhance the skills they already have. It is also ideal for those who work through Irish on a daily basis – teachers and journalists, for example – who wish to improve their standard of writing in the language. The course will also benefit those who are interested in working as a translator, administrator or lawyer-linguist in one of the EU institutions. Further information about the dioplóma programme, and the course brochure and application form, are available at www.gaelchultur.com. The deadline for applications for the upcoming course is Tuesday, September 1st.
Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge /NUIG NUI Galway’s Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge was developed to deliver university education through the medium of Irish. The underlying philosophy of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge is to provide for the specific needs of Irish speakers and Gaeltacht communities through the promotion of academic programmes, courses and research activities in areas that are seen as being of vital importance to the future of these communities.
NUI Galway offers two Irish postgraduate opportunities. MA sa Nua-Ghaeilge will give students an advanced understanding of various aspects of Irish language studies including the language itself, literature, culture and history.
The course gives students a grounding for those considering doing doctoral research in Irish in the future. The programme is available two days a week over one academic year (full-time).
The MA in Conference Interpreting (Ateangaireacht Chomhdhála) is the only dedicated Irish language master’s programme in conference interpreting in Ireland.
This programme is in demand due primary to the Irish language status as an official language within the European Union – a development that has seen a dramatic increase in job vacancies in the EU for those with recognised qualifications in Irish language interpreting and translation skills.
Training is provided by practising professionals in both modes of conference interpreting. Irish, English, French, Spanish, Italian and German have been offered on the programme to date.
The MA programme in Language Studies (LéannTeanga) is offered as a full-time course over one year or as a two-year part-time programme through blended learning. While studying subjects such as research methodologies, academic writing and professional communication, the course offers two specialist streams: language planning and translation studies.
Language planning has emerged as an applied academic branch of the linguistic disciplines and primarily concentrates on the development of the strategic requirements and interventions of a language community. The demand for qualified translators makes this an attractive programme for those looking to gain swift employment in this area.
NUI Galway also offers an MA in Communications, which includes modules in broadcasting and radio and television journalism, with a strong emphasis on practical skills and work experience. The programme will be available as a full-time course over one year or as a two-year part-time programme. Places on all of the programmes are limited to 15 applicants and begin in September 2016.
DIT Dublin Institute of Technology offers an MA in Applied Irish in conjunction with Gaelchultúr Teoranta. The MA in Applied Irish is focused on employees of the public sector who will work through Irish in the future and graduates who want to work in Ireland and Europe.
The course is suitable for those who wish to work as translators, interpreters, linguists, proofreaders and in tourism. Candidates must have a degree of 2.2 or higher, with Irish as one of their subjects at undergraduate level or be able to demonstrate a level of competence in Irish.
TCD Students may read for a research degree, reading towards an MLitt (one-three years) or a PhD (two-five years). The college also runs a Postgraduate Diploma in Old Irish and an MPhil in Early Irish.
UCD MA: Scríobh agus Cumarsáid na Gaeilge places focus on language, critical theory, translation, journalism and technology for students wishing to seek employment in education, research or State bodies.
UCC The university offers a taught postgraduate course in Modern Irish (Nua- Ghaeilge). Applicants are required to have an honours BA degree with at least a 2.1 in Irish. The course, which includes modules on literature in Irish, Irish language and Irish manuscripts and palaeography, runs for one year (full-time) or two years (part-time).
The college also offers a (full-time) Level nine postgraduate Diploma in Irish Language and European Law. The course is run by the department of modern Irish in collaboration with the school of law and is aimed at students seeking specialised training in European law as well as in-depth Irish language skills. Graduates will be well placed to apply for positions within the European Commission and European Parliament upon completion.