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Language plans said to be the ‘most significant in 90 years’

November 22, 2010

Just 83,000 people speak Irish on a daily basis and the Government aims to increase that number to 250,000 through its 20-year language strategy, the Dáil has heard.

As calls were made for compulsory Irish to be dropped after Junior Certificate level, Minister for the Gaeltacht Pat Carey warned there is a danger that the Irish language will die unless action is taken. He described the strategy as one of the most significant steps taken on the Irish language in 90 years. Mr Carey said it was a great achievement that the language was still being spoken in Gaeltacht areas given the pressure from the level of English that is spoken. The Minister said it is the household that creates the native speaker but it is the community speaking the language that would keep it alive.

During a two-hour debate on the first official language, conducted mainly in Irish, Fine Gael Gaeltacht spokesman Frank Feighan believed that 4 per cent of Irish speakers, or roughly 72,000 people, use the language daily outside the classroom. He welcomed the strategy but said we should look at the retention of Irish as a compulsory subject from primary to Leaving Certificate level. Fergus O’Dowd (FG, Louth) was more adamant. We must get rid of our compulsory Irish after the Junior Certificate. We must offer people choice after the Junior Certificate rather than having it compulsory. Students love the subjects they want to do, not the ones they have to do.

Labour spokesman Brian O’Shea said there is a large measure of soft support for the Irish language among the public but we must convert this into something more active. He said the Gaeltacht areas could not be kept alive without employment in the area. He also believed the language should be simplified, particularly irregular verbs, a proposal sharply criticised by Sinn Féin spokesman Aengus Ó Snodaigh. He said: I don’t see anyone asking the French to change their irregular verbs. He also criticised the Oireachtas which refused to accept amendments to Bills in Irish and condemned the rare use of language in the chamber with usually only one debate annually on Irish, around St Patrick’s Day. Trevor Sargent (Green, Dublin North) said the language was on the edge of extinction and warned against the strategy’s changes in the role of Údarás na Gaeltachta.

The Irish Times – Marie O’Halloran
19 Samhain 2010

Irish being ‘dumbed down’ in new exam

November 22, 2010

Irish-language organisations yesterday expressed fears that a new Leaving Certificate oral Irish exam being introduced in two years’ time will lead to a ‘dumbing down’ of the subject.

The new-style oral Irish exam will allow students to earn 20pc of their total marks months in advance. From 2012, the oral test, which will last 10 to 12 minutes, will be worth 40pc of all marks for Irish, compared with the current 25pc. But half the marks for the new oral will be devoted to reciting a poem and describing a picture sequence that students can practice well ahead of the exam. Leading Irish-language organisations yesterday denounced the change in the way marks will be awarded. Although the official language of the country and a compulsory school subject, almost one in four Leaving Certificate students didn’t sit Irish this year and of those who did, only about a third took it at higher level.

The change in the marking scheme is intended to stem falling proficiency in Irish, in the hope that putting greater emphasis on the spoken word will make it more appealing. But as well as putting standards at risk at one level, it also fails to meet the needs of students with good proficiency in Irish, the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills was told yesterday. Language expert Anna Ni Ghallachoir described some of the changes as “absurd”. Ms Ni Ghallachoir, of the Language Centre at NUI, Maynooth, is also chairperson of Meitheal na Gaeilge ATAL, a group set up to support a high standard of Irish in the Leaving Certificate. She said they were not unhappy with the decision to award 40pc of marks for the oral “but when we saw what was to make up the 40pc, we were appalled”.

One task will be to recite a poem in Irish. “To say that this flies in the face of good practice is total understatement,” she said.  “The notion that this part of the oral exams in the final Leaving Certificate exam is absurd.”


Students will also be required to describe a picture sequence, which will be available 18 months in advance. The norm for language testing was to provide students with such a sequence two minutes before the test, she said. Ms Ni Ghallachoir said students could get half the marks without “telling us anything about their communicative language ability”.
Muireann Ni Mhorain, chief executive of Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaiochta, which caters for the educational needs of Gaeltacht schools and of Gaelscoileanna, said that native-speaker competence would not be rewarded in the new oral exam. She said a student getting the full benefit of the 40pc of the marks for the oral component could enjoy a significant rise in points at higher level “and all in 10 minutes, with all the necessary material available years in advance”. Julian de Spainn, chief executive of Conradh na Gaeilge, said under the new Leaving Certificate curriculum, the standard of Irish required was not of the same standard required for English. He said it was important that a comprehensive curriculum of a high standard was provided to ensure that students and Irish speakers transmit the language on to the next generation.

Irish Independent – Katherine Donnelly
19 Samhain 2010

Coirm Festivals

November 18, 2010

Coirm festivals are organised throughout the country in theatres with first class facilities. Each school performs a variety show of no more than 20 minutes duration. Children participating may come from different classes and there is no age limit. To ensure a festive spirit on the day every group is expected to stay and watch some of the other schools’ performances. To enhance their enjoyment of the day Gael Linn provide a short performance by professional artistes at each festival. Participating children receive a memento of their day at Coirm.

To ensure an Irish language ethos at the festivals, Coirm is aimed primarily at Gaeltacht schools and Gaelscoileanna. However, other primary schools are invited to participate if the pupils are prepared to make a commitment to speak Irish at all times. Coirm aims to promote the use of Irish among primary school pupils by providing a stage for them to display their talents in a non-competitive Irish-speaking environment. Completed entry forms must be returned To Gael Linn by December 6th, 2010.

Further information and entry forms are available on the Gael Linn Website.

Less than 15% in some Dublin areas going to college

November 18, 2010

LESS THAN 15 per cent of Leaving Cert students in some poorer areas of Dublin are progressing to third level, according to the 2010 Irish Times feeder school list published today.

Schools in Cabra, Ballymun, Finglas and Blanchardstown register a progression rate of between 11 and 14 per cent.

In stark contrast, most schools in south Dublin have a progression rate of 100 per cent; every one of their students who sat the Leaving Cert this year has progressed to third level.

The new figures come amid renewed controversy about the impact of the abolition of third-level fees in 1995 and as students face increased registration charges in next month’s budget. The list appears to show that “free fees” have have had only a marginal impact in boosting participation levels in poorer areas.

Low levels of access to third level are especially marked on the northside of Dublin. In all, 38 northside schools have a progression rate to third level of less than 40 per cent.

Other Dublin schools – in Swords, Balbriggan, Sallynoggin and Rush – also have low progression rates.

The Coalition hopes that some 70 per cent of all school leavers will progress to college by 2012. But this appears to be an ambitious target given today’s figures.

The list tracks the progression of students from school to 36 third-level colleges including the institutes of technology.

The Irish Times also publishes a separate list focusing on progression rates to high-points courses, mostly in the university sector.

This list is dominated by feepaying schools. The top feeder schools for high-points courses include Gonzaga, Mount Anville and CUS in Dublin; Glenstal Abbey in Limerick and Clongowes Wood in Kildare.

Several Gaelscoileanna also do well, including Coláiste Eoin and Coláiste Iosagáin in Stillorgan, Dublin.

When entry to the institutes of technology are also included, fee-paying schools are less dominant in the tables.

Broadly, the lists show that “free” State schools will match or even eclipse the progression rate of some fee-paying schools if they are located in affluent areas. Community and comprehensive schools in affluent areas of the main cities all feature strongly in the lists.

Earlier this year – in a paper published by UCD’s Geary Institute – Dr Kevin Denny said the key factor to influence college entry was Leaving Cert points. Dr Denny discovered that few children from working-class backgrounds secured enough points to gain a place in most university courses, despite the “free fees” regime.

The report echoed the findings of a Higher Education Authority study last year which found that lower socio-economic groups such as manual workers, semi-skilled or unskilled workers, were still hugely under-represented on “blue chip” courses like medicine, pharmacy and law.

Not a single student entering university courses in pharmacy or medicine in 2008/2009 came from an unskilled background.

Gaelscoil de hÍde, Roscomáin – Deich bliain ag Fás 2000-2010

November 17, 2010

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Gaelscoil na Lochanna move to a new site

November 17, 2010

Over the mid-term break we moved onto our new site, 2.25 acres in Cill Moloma, Blessington. It’s lovely here, and lovely to be home! There are 100 pupils in the school now and we’re all delighted with the great new space we have. There’ll be a big celebration on December 10th to open the new school officially.

– Seán Ó Cearnaigh (Principal)

There’s more information available on the school’s website: www.gaelscoilnalochanna.net

35 Children enrol in unrecognised school, Gaelscoil Ráth Tó

November 17, 2010

35 families registered their children to start in Gaelscoil Ráth Tó in September at an induction meeting for the school in Rathoath, Co. Meath on Thursday, 02 November 2010, despite still waiting to get official recognition from the Department of Education and Skills.

Parents and children attended the meeting in Gaelscoil Ráth Tó to meet the school principal and receive information on the school’s progress.

The Department of Education and Skills will be announcing shortly where new schools will open in 2011; the Rataoth community expect to be on that list and that Gaelscoil Ráth Tó, which opened in September this year without recognition, will be recognised and sanctioned.

The large attendance and the continued parental demand in the area confirms the urgent need to recognise Gaelscoil Rath Tó.

School Principal Tricia Ní Mhaolagáin said: “Twenty children that were on the waiting list for Gaelscoil Ráth Tó lost out last year when the school was refused recognition. Are another generation of Rathoath children to miss out on the benefits of an all-Irish education or will the Department of Education and Skills do the right thing and support Gaelscoil Ráth Tó by giving it official recognition?”

Gaelscoileanna conference this weekend

November 17, 2010

Gaelscoileanna Teo. will hold their annual national conference in Tullamore, Co. Offaly from Friday 19th – Saturday 20th November 2010.

As part of this year’s conference many lectures and educational discussions will take place throughout the two day event. Radio commentator, Mícheál Ó Muirceartaigh will speak at the event as will Minister Pat Carey TD with Éamonn Murtagh, Assistant Chief Inspector with the Department of Education and Skills to open the conference.

On Friday morning there will be a chance to listen to a panel of experts debating the central role of Irish-medium education in the 20 year strategy for the Irish-language.

Gormlaith Ní Thuairisc from RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta will be chairperson at this particular session.  The public will also have the opportunity to hear Minister Carey’s thoughts just prior to the publication of the strategy.

Various educational experts will speak on a variety of topics of interest to teachers and schools at the conference workshops which will provide both food for thought and inspiration for many.

This year’s very special guest Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh will address the conference about the importance of Irish-medium education, past, present and future.

Guest speakers from universities and schools all over the country will give various lectures.

Various educational related workshops will be conducted throughout Friday and Saturday morning and many information stands will be seen this event to circulate information on the Irish language and language learning resources in schools.

For further information visit: www.gaelscoileanna.ie

Feachtas tiomsaithe airgid do Ghaelscoil Ráth Tó

November 16, 2010

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

AGM for Irish language teachers

November 16, 2010

Comhar na Muinteoirí Gaeilge will host its Annual General Meeting this Saturday 20th November in The Alexander Hotel, Fenian St, Dublin 2. Dr. Muiris Ó Laoire will give a presentation on the practical ways of developing/promoting spoken Irish in the classroom by giving a detailed account of the various strategies in practicing spoken Irish in the classroom and measuring student’s ability.

Secondary school teachers will get suggestions on preparing students for the new oral curriculum for the 2012 Leaving Cert which will count for 40% for Irish in the Leaving Cert.

Those attending the meeting will also see the launch of Comhar na Muinteoirí Gaeilge’s journal Teagasc na Gaeilge 9 which focuses on situations that relate to teaching and learning Irish.

Further information may be found by contacting Anna Davitt or Saffron Rosenstock at (01) 639 8448/5 or anna@cnmg.i/saffron@cnmg.ie.

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