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Change how Irish is taught at primary level

March 30, 2011

I REFER to Ross Watchorn’s letter (March 25). I agree that the teaching of Irish should be overhauled.

The Government says it is going to increase the number of points for the oral in the Leaving Certificate from 40% of the exam to 50%. This will be a welcome move, although is not even currently challenging for native Irish speakers and others with good Irish, so we should have a second Irish language subject for the Leaving Cert.  Conradh na Gaeilge and the Oireachtas Joint-Committee, who published recommendations on the 20-year strategy for the Irish language, are both in favour of this. But we need to go further and overhaul the way Irish is taught in primary school and for the Junior Certificate. Oral Irish should be focused on throughout school with grammar only being taught when a child reaches at least fifth class. The decision agreed by the two government parties in the Programme for Government to postpone looking at whether Irish should be optional for the Leaving Cert until reforms have been carried out is, I believe, the correct one. I would welcome a bigger debate in the next general election on the question of Irish being compulsory or not for the Leaving Cert, in the context of a radical overall having taken place.  The question has been parked but will be revisited.

Darren Mac an Phríora
Caisleán Cnucha
Baile Átha Cliath 15

Irish Examiner