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Na mílte ag siúl ar son na Gaeilge

January 29, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Titeann an tua ar 13 eagraíocht

January 23, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Lift language barrier

January 21, 2014

Language matters. It forms our thoughts and shapes our lives.

The Irish language, because of exclusion from public life, has gone from being the majority language in the early 1800s to being a minority language today. This was the greatest social change in Irish history. Imagine had England been conquered and its language replaced by Spanish, French or German. Imagine an English population unable to read Shakespeare except in translation and cut off from their own history. Imagine the effect this would have on the psyche, confidence and sense of self of any people. Our English-only mentality costs us export markets and jobs. The Danes learnt English without abandoning Danish and have a stronger economy than us. Speaking Irish makes Ireland sound and feel like a regular European country. It will recover our intellectual and cultural sovereignty and contribute to an inclusive Irish identity beyond colour or creed.

Dáithí Mac Cárthaigh BL

Baile Átha Cliath 7


Hasta la vista! Game on for Cu Chulainn

January 21, 2014

A SPANISH software expert has devised a computer game based on the adventures of Cu Chulainn after falling in love with the Irish language.

Francisco Blazquez (46), who is from Madrid, first came to Ireland when he was 18 to learn English. But he was so taken with the Irish language that when he returned home he signed up for classes at the official language school in his native city. The software consultant has been based in Ireland since 2010, and Francisco and his partner Eva Garcia are now set to launch their new game ‘In Cu Chulainn’s Footsteps’ on Thursday at Croke Park. The game features music from Clannad, Kila and Sharon Shannon, and legendary broadcaster Micheal O Muircheartaigh also provides a voiceover for part of the game – in English and in Irish.

“The idea is to promote Irish,” said Francisco. “Our aim is to create a portal with many games.” The game can be played in both Irish and English, swapping and mixing both languages as the player wishes. “It is aimed for children aged between eight and 12, or perhaps slightly older. Players lead Cu Chulainn through a mysterious island, solving puzzles and riddles to find the way out of there,” said Francisco, who has formed his own company, Duineacu. He said that along with the game, players will also find information related to Irish culture including music, literature, sports and legends. It is a 3D adventure played in the third person, driven by mouse clicks or taps on the screen. A licence to play the game is bought online, he said.

Meanwhile, in the school version, teachers can very easily change the content, the voiceovers and the text. Francisco, who has three children – Andrea (14), Iria (12) and Adrian (7) and lives in Trim – revealed that he regularly visits the Meath Gaeltacht village of Rath Cairn in a bid to continually improve his Irish.

For further information see: www.cuadventure.com.


Call for Irish language support

January 16, 2014

Growth and promotion of the Irish language in Northern Ireland is being blocked by hostile attitudes in Stormont and a lack of support for its use in the courts and in education, according to the Council of Europe.

European chiefs have warned authorities they may also be in breach of a charter of rights because of delays and attempts to block requests for bilingual street names. The review of minority languages in the UK said the Government has not been able to justify banning the use of Irish in the courts or allowing people to take citizenship tests through the language. The Council of Europe criticised attitudes to Irish in some official circles and what it said is the Stormont Assembly’s “persisting hostile climate”. Caral Ni Chuilin, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure who is responsible for overall promotion of the language, said she would bring in new legislation during the current Assembly term. “There is a large body of support for an Irish Language Act in the North,” she said. “As languages are now a devolved matter full legislation will require the agreement of the Executive and Assembly. I hope that all supporters of the Irish language will work together to convince the Executive, the Assembly and all our people of the merits of supporting an Irish Language Act.”

Ms Ni Chuilin said her Liofa campaign to promote the language also showed the room for cross community support. The report from the Council of Europe also looked at the standing of Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Cornish, and Ulster Scots which it said has improved even if it ” still remains absent from public life”. The review team hit out at a lack of political consensus in Northern Ireland on the language and the lack of a long-awaited Irish Language Act. In education it found many obstacles hampering an adequate offering of Irish-medium pre-schools and it called for concrete steps to be taken to meet the growth in demand for primary education in Irish. It raised concerns that the Colaiste Feirste secondary school still suffers from lack of free school transport, despite having won a judicial review case against the Department of Education on the issue, and increased efforts are needed to overcome the shortage of teachers for specialist subjects in secondary education.

It called for new measures to allow for simultaneous translation in the Assembly. Overall the panel of experts from the Strasbourg-based Council – Europe’s leading human rights agency – found many difficulties persist in the development of Irish. It said work has been hampered by a lack of information from the authorities and t he UK Government was also criticised for late and incomplete responses to requests for information about the standing of Irish in Northern Ireland. In repsonse to issues on road signs, the Department of Regional Development said: “Early in 2012 the Minister for Regional Development (Danny Kennedy) decided not to pursue the matter and no further work has been undertaken since.”


Mórshiúl beartaithe ag lucht na Gaeilge

January 15, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

How to pick the right subjects for your career path

January 15, 2014

Now is the time when third year and Transition Year students are taking important decisions about what subjects to study at senior cycle.

Students need to consider their aptitudes and abilities and use that as a basis for selecting the subjects to which they are best suited. It is also vital that they take into account future college and career paths and ensure that when it comes to applying for higher education they are not caught out because they did not study a particular subject at Leaving Certificate level. Here, Aoife Walsh, guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin, offers some key pointers on how to make the best choices.

Q My school offers LCA, LCVP and traditional Leaving Certificate. What are the differences between these three programmes?

A LCA stands for Leaving Certificate Applied. It provides students with a very different way of studying. It contains a large amount of continuous assessment and work experience. Students study traditional subjects such as maths, English and a language but also take a variety of modules which varies depending on the school. LCA classes are generally smaller than traditional Leaving Certificate classes. This option tends to suit students who do not enjoy a very academic environment and enjoy a more practical learning style. LCVP stands for Leaving Cert Vocational Programme. It offers students who are studying certain combinations of subjects in the traditional Leaving Cert the opportunity to take extra ‘Link Modules’ in the area of Business and Enterprise. Students can earn up to 70 CAO points for LCVP and the programme is mostly project work with an exam in May. Nearly all colleges recognise LCVP points for entry but students may count only their best six subjects for points.

Q How many subjects do I need to choose?

A The rules in schools vary, but most require students to take seven subjects for the Leaving Certificate. Some students may take fewer, for example, those who are not taking Irish. Other students may choose to take more. There is no specific rule about how many subjects one should take, however students must pass six subjects in the Leaving Certificate in order to be eligible for Level 8 (honours) degrees and the CAO uses a student’s best six subjects to determine CAO points.

Q Are there any subjects I must choose?

A Every student must take English, maths and Irish, unless they have an exemption from Irish. Students will normally choose another four subjects. The subjects offered by schools and the freedom of choice students have can vary depending on resources and timetabling constraints. Some schools offer students a completely free choice while others might ask students to choose between certain groupings. Most Leaving Certificate subjects can be taken up by students at senior cycle even if they have not studied them before, but there are some that students will find very difficult to take up if they have not studied them previously. If students are considering taking a new subject it is advisable to speak to the subject teacher or a guidance counsellor before making this decision

Q I would like to take more than seven subjects, is this possible?
A In theory, students may take as many subjects as they wish, but most school timetables can only accommodate seven. However, every year a number of students choose to take eight subjects or, in a very small number of cases, nine. These extra subjects are usually taken outside school. Students may choose to take a subject that is similar to subjects they are already studying. For example many students who are studying physics and higher level maths may choose also to take applied maths. Students who speak a language other than English in the home may have the option of taking this language as subject for Leaving Certificate even if it is not taught in their school. Among the languages in which students can sit a Leaving Cert exam are Russian, Romanian and Polish, to name a few.

Q Should I take an extra subject?
A There is certainly no need to take on extra subjects for the Leaving Certificate. There is already a lot of work involved in taking seven subjects and only six are required for the CAO so students are already doing an ‘extra’ one. Before deciding to take on an extra subject it is important to consider how much extra work this will involve and if it is really needed. Taking extra subjects for CAO points can be a false economy; if students spread themselves too thinly they could fall by five points in each of their other subjects and negate any gain being made by taking the extra. Remember, no matter how many subjects a student takes, the CAO will only count the best six.

Q How should I choose my subjects?

A There are number of things students should consider when choosing Leaving Certificate subjects. Firstly, they should think about the subjects they enjoy and why they enjoy them. If students enjoy their subjects they are more likely to study them and get better grades. Also, if a student enjoys a subject in school it is likely that they will enjoy a college course in a similar area and eventually a job in that field. If there are subject requirements for a course they will be in an area related to that field of study. Students should also consider what they enjoy doing outside school. Hobbies and interests might give some clues as to what subjects they enjoy. Secondly, students should consider the subjects where they shine. It may be helpful to discuss this with friends and relatives. Consider Junior Certificate results as well as any aptitude testing done in school. Students currently in Transition Year, should consider what modules you have enjoyed so far. Finally, consider possible entry requirements for third level. For example, science courses will require students to have taken science at Leaving Certificate, but students who are interested in careers in science are likely to enjoy science and will probably opt for at least one science subject anyway.

Q Do I have to take a language if I want to go to college?

A Some schools require all their Leaving Certificate students to take a language. If students have the option to choose whether or not to take a language, they should consider it seriously as it may determine the choices available to them when it comes to applying for college. For example, a third European language is a requirement for of a number of departments in the NUI colleges — University College Cork (UCC), University College Dublin (UCD), NUI Galway and NUI Maynooth. The phrase, third European language, refers to a language other than English and Irish, which, it is presumed, most students already study. Departments in HUI colleges that require students to have a language include arts/humanities, business and health course such as medicine and dentistry. A third language is not required for engineering or agriculture in these colleges. Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and the University of Limerick require students to have one language — either Irish or a modern language, while Dublin City University (DCU) and the institutes of technology require students to pass maths and English or Irish.

Q I do not study Irish. Am I excluded from applying to certain colleges?

A Students who have an exemption from studying Irish in school will be also exempt from this requirement at university. Students may receive an exemption for Irish if they joined the Irish education system after 5th class in primary school or if they have a certain type of learning difficulty. Information regarding exemptions will have to be sent to colleges of choice but this will be done in 6th year.

Q If I don’t know what I have to study at third-level, what subject should I choose?

A If a student is not sure what to study at third level, they should choose subjects that they are good at and that they like. It is likely that if students like something in second-level school they will like it at third level as well. Students are also likely to do better in the Leaving Certificate in subjects they enjoy , leading to higher points, which will mean more CAO options. If a student has any ideas about what they might like to study at college, they should look up the requirements for these courses on Qualifax.ie. If students think they would like to study science then it is a good idea to take a science subject at Leaving cert. Students should also consider keeping on a language to ensure they have the widest possible choice when it comes to filling out the CAO form.

Important Dates: Today Cork IT – CAO Information Session for mature students, Dublin Business School – Open Day DCU – CAO, Mature student and parents eveing IADT Dun Laoghaire – Open Evening Limerick IT Clonmel – CAO Information Evening NUI Maynooth – CAO Information Evening Shannon College of Hotel Management – Open Evening UCAS – Application deadline UCD Engineering – Open Evening January 16 Limerick IT – CAO Information Evening Limerick IT/LSAD – Portfolio Open Day NUI Galway Information Evening (Letterkenny) NUI Maynooth – Information Evening (Athlone) UCC – Information Meeting for Parents January 18 Dundalk IT – Information meeting Irish College of Humanities and Applied Sciences – Open Day Mary Immaculate College – Open Day UCD – Architecture Open Day University of Limerick –Open Day January 19 HPAT Ulster – Late registration closes January 20 CAO – Deadline for reduced fee applications HPAT Ireland – Registration closes.

Points? You do the maths.
A minimum C3 in higher level maths is a basic requirement for many Level 8 (honours) degree programmes. In some cases, the minimum requirement is higher than C3. In general, higher level maths is a requirement for Level 8 courses in engineering, computer science, actuarial science, financial maths, mathematical science and some science courses. Currently, students who achieve at least a grade D in higher level maths will have 25 points added to their CAO score, if maths counts as one of their best subjects. Courses where foundation level maths is acceptable or with no maths requirement include some social studies, humanities, art, film, planning, journalism, media, law and the Garda College .

Measure your aptitude
Many schools use the Differential Aptitude Test (DAT) with students who are choosing subjects for the Leaving Certificate. The DAT tests measure students’ abilities in a number of different areas and the scores can be used to produce a profile showing a pupil’s strengths and weaknesses. In contrast, exams measure students’ performance. DAT scores can be useful in helping a student to decide what subjects to pursue. High scores may indicate that a student would enjoy certain subjects for example:

Verbal reasoning: English, Business, History
Numerical Reasoning: Math, Accountancy, Physics
Abstract Reasoning: Physics, Engineering, Math, Chemistry
Perpetual Speed and Accuracy: all subjects.
Space Relations: Art, Design and Communication Graphics, Biology and Geography.
Mechanical Reasoning: Engineering, Technology, Construction

This list is not exhaustive.


School policy changes must be applied equally

January 14, 2014

WITH the level of cuts to the education system in recent years, it was inevitable that some things would give.

There have always been examples of schools that, for one reason or another, did not deliver the stipulated 28 hours a week instruction time to students, but the Department of Education and Skills has now acknowledged that the reduction in resources in recent years has been an added challenge for schools in meeting the standard. Not only have schools lost teachers, but the cuts have come at a time when enrolments are rising, and will continue to do so for about a decade. Meanwhile, schools are under pressure to offer a wide choice of subjects and the upcoming reform of the Junior Certificate will only add to the range of possible study options.

The planned detailed analysis by the department of the practice in relation to the provision of instruction time across schools of different types and sizes is welcome. The findings will be of interest because they will tell us why some schools are not adhering to the rules. We need to know how much of a role the cuts have played and whether there are any other reasons why an individual school is coming up short. Whatever the department’s research turns up, it is essential that any changes in policy or, indeed, enforcement of existing policy, have as their focus the best interests of students – all students. There is nothing wrong with the existing policy requiring all schools to deliver a minimum amount of instruction time to all pupils. It is an equitable starting point, and, if more holes have appeared in the system because resources have been cut, an obvious solution would be to restore the resources.

It may well be that taking account of the circumstances of individual schools and allowing them a certain flexibility in relation to instruction time, would be a desirable outcome. But if there is to be change, it cannot result in an uneven patchwork based on joining up the holes. The State has a responsibility to deliver equal treatment to all students, in all schools.


School cuts hit classroom teaching time

January 14, 2014

CUTS in teacher numbers have left some schools struggling to offer students the minimum 28 hours a week of classroom teaching.

A major review of teaching time in second-level institutions is to be carried out after several schools were found to be falling short of basic requirements. SCHOOLS are struggling to offer pupils the minimum 28 hours a week of classroom teaching due to education cutbacks. A major review of teaching time in second-level institutions is to be carried out after several schools were found to be falling short of basic requirements. The Department of Education has admitted the cutbacks of recent years have been “an added challenge” for schools in meeting the standard. The problem has been identified in a number of recent Whole School Evaluation (WSE) reports published by the department’s inspectors.

In some cases, schools count assembly or study time as part of the 28 hours, but the rules stipulate that it must be spent on direct teaching and learning. In a recent WSE report on the 425-pupil Colaiste Cois Life, Lucan, Co Dublin, the inspectors reported that pupils were being left short one-and-a-half hours a week.


At Meanscoil Iognaid Ris, Longmile Road, Dublin, inspectors also noted that instruction time fell short of the minimum 28 hours. And inspectors found the 525-pupil Salesian Secondary School, in Pallaskenry, Limerick, counted a 15-minute weekly session between class tutors and pupils as part of its 28 hours. Michael Moriarty, general secretary of the Education and Training Boards Ireland, said achieving the 28 hours was becoming more difficult. Ferdia Kelly, general secretary of the Joint Managerial Body representing secondary schools, said it would like to maintain the 28 hours but the reduction in teacher numbers had put pressure on schools to maintain it. Most schools do provide the required 28 hours a week, and at least one-third of schools offer even more than that. The department is planning a detailed analysis of practice across schools of different types and sizes, to see where and why there is a deviation. It will consider whether a standard 28 hours is desirable, or whether there should be a relaxation of the rules by giving schools a certain flexibility in how they organise their time.


A department spokesperson said that any such relaxation would not involve a reduction in the 22 hours a week for which teachers are contracted to be available. School timetables are worked out based on the number of pupils, the range of subjects on offer – and at different levels – and the number of teachers. The department has acknowledged that the challenges involved in meeting the needs of all pupils can vary, depending on the school size and the range of subjects it provides. A department spokesperson said its research would relate to the decisions schools make when deciding how to use the aggregate teaching hours available from the schools allocation. The educational benefits, advantages or trade-offs that might justify any deviation from a standard number of hours would be considered, the spokesperson said.


Singing astronaut Chris Hadfield to become Irish tourism ambassador

January 10, 2014

Astronaut Chris Hadfield – famous for singing David Bowie’s Space Oddity in space – has become an “ambassador” for Irish tourism. The former International Space Station commander put Ireland on the map with the first-ever tweet from space ‘as Gaeilge’ last year.

He arrives in Ireland today for the Laya Healthcare Pendulum Summit and the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Tourism Ireland is hoping that he will help put Ireland on the map again as a top destination for holidays.

The organisation has enlisted his help to showcase some of our top visitor attractions and experiences over the coming five days.

From tomorrow , he and his wife Helene will visit Croke Park and the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. He will also visit Donegal – where he will learn ‘cúpla focal’ from some local schoolchildren – and the Inishowen Peninsula. In Northern Ireland, he will visit Armagh, Cushendall and the Glens of Antrim, as well as Titanic Belfast.

Tourism Ireland will create three short films of Hadfield’s five-day visit – featuring different themes like Gaelic games, our spectacular scenery and major visitor attractions. These films will then be shared by Tourism Ireland to around two million Facebook fans and Twitter followers worldwide. Chris Hadfield will also tweet to his more than one million followers about his experiences here.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, said Mr Hadfield’s visit will be great for Irish tourism. “Having seen Ireland from space, it’s great to be able to give Chris Hadfield a closer look at what Ireland has to offer on the ground.”

“His enthusiasm and energy make him a great ambassador for Irish tourism, and should help to persuade many more to come and see Ireland close-up in 2014. I’m really delighted he has agreed to help us out.”

Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland’s CEO, said the astronaut has shown “tremendous generosity” towards Ireland. “We are delighted to welcome Chris Hadfield to Ireland. I would like to personally thank him for his tremendous generosity in agreeing to help us promote the island of Ireland around the world.”

“Of course, he already began promoting Ireland last year, with the dramatic photos he tweeted from the International Space Station to his huge Twitter fanbase.”

“Chris is an enormously popular, global figure and I am confident that our films of his visit to Ireland will be seen and shared by millions of potential holidaymakers around the world – inspiring them to come and sample the destination for themselves.”


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