“Not another flag! Will this involve a lot of extra work”? +
Teachers tell us that they would like help and support to encourage children to use the Irish they have learnt in everyday conversation. This scheme provides that help and support.
The approach for the Gaelbhratach is based on the themes and language functions in the Conversation Course for the Irish language of the Primary School Curriculum. Thus it should not involve extra work or time, but should enhance the use of the Irish language already taught /learnt.
Games and fun will help use the Irish they have learnt – (See for example Spreag an Ghaeilge le Spraoi. The classes will be enjoyable. Progress will be very satisfying for both pupils and teachers.
Teaching will be successful – the first step in the learning cycle:
(e)The Gaelbhratach displayed prominently at the school will proudly and publicly declare that Irish is used in this school.
”What will be different?” +
The Language Awareness Programme involving pupils as well as teachers will support a new way forward with emphasis on:
Phrases, sayings and sentences being chosen for the spoken Irish lesson to enable the pupils to say, in Irish, what they want/need to say.
Planning so that any Irish learned is used, new phrases are incorporated into what is already learned and work progresses in a way that ensures knowledge and use of Irish is cumulative. Each new phrase/ word is added to what is known rather than replacing it.
Pupils will be encouraged to use the Irish learnt throughout the day.
Teachers will be encouraged to lead by example using new phrases and sayings herself/ himself as well as simple phrases such as: “Más é do thoil é /le do thoil; go raibh maith agat; tá sé sin go deas; gabh mo leithscéal … Cá bhfuil…”?
This is advised for teaching languages in general. (See for example Pilot Project on Modern Languages in Primary School, NCCA 2000).
Some of the daily routine tasks will be carried out through Irish, e.g.
“Is gearr go mbeidh sé in am dul abhaile. Caithfimid an seomra a ghlanadh.”
“Is gearr go mbeidh sé in am don rang corpoideachais. Caithfimid críoch/deireadh a chur leis an obair sin anois agus seasamh sa líne.”
“Fáilte romhaibh ag an Tionól ar maidin”
The assembly could then continue in English until opportunities arise again to use Irish phrases/ songs… The assembly should be concluded in Irish, with the amount of Irish used increasing as new phrases are learned.
During the music lesson for example, “Canfaimid Déirín Dé / Beidh Aonach Amárach …anois” “Caithfimid éisteacht go cúramach chun an nóta/ an veidhlín/ pianó a chloisteáil.” “Éistigí leis an gceol agus comhair na buillí – a haon, a dó …”
Give good example to the pupils by speaking Irish yourself with colleagues, with the Principal and with parents as appropriate. (See examples in Tacábhar based on material from Céimeanna Beaga. FNT 2006).
Perhaps some regular announcements on the PA could be in Irish, e.g. “Tá sé ag cur báistí inniu agus ní féidir dul amach sa chlós ag am lóin.”
In some schools pupils are given a ticket/ sticker when they are heard speaking Irish. These tickets may then be used in a raffle for example.
See sample conversation Tacábhar pg 13
“How do we get involved?” +
(a) The school enters the scheme provided the staff agrees with the idea.
(b) There are two stages:
(i) Initially a Teastas/ certificate will be awarded after 1 year when certain targets are achieved.
(ii) The Gaelbhratach is presented after 2 years when the relevant criteria indicating that Irish is used throughout the school have been achieved.
“But I’m not very confident about my Irish /my grammar is terrible/ my pronunciation is different. Where can I turn for help? What can I do”? +
Start by listening to colleagues speaking Irish, e.g. the phrases that have been listed in the School plan.
Arrange for a colleague to help you if you are uncertain about pronunciation or phraseology.
It is a great help to listen to the daily news in English first and then in Irish. As you progress you can switch to the news in Irish first and then in English if needed.
Listen to Irish on CDs and repeat what you hear, starting with a sentence or two, (See Céimeanna Beaga, (FNT 2006) stories, rhymes, songs etc.) You could do this in the car or while out walking.
Listen to Raidió na Gaeltachta/ TG4
Use the phrases you already know – “Más é do thoil é; go raibh maith agat; gabh mo leithscéal; ó féach air sin; tá sé go hálainn; cá bhfuil an…” etc.
You definitely know more Irish than you think.
(Perhaps you need to practice the phrases aloud to get used to hearing yourself speaking Irish. This is recommended for languages in general. It will help your confidence.)
Not everyone will be starting at the same level, but making progress is very satisfying.
N.B. Remember a phrase in Irish containing an English word – “An bhfuil cead agam folder a fháil?” – is much better that a phrase / sentence in English containing an Irish word – “Can I get my fillteán?”.
Perhaps you would be interested in TEG, (an Irish course) (Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge) – See www.teg.ie
“Why teach Irish through Irish? Isn’t it easier to just explain things in English?” +
(a) On the whole it is more effective to use the target language no matter what language is being taught.
(b) Learning is faster in the long run.
(c) We have to help the learner to think in the target language. The more we translate for them the harder it is for them to achieve this.
(d) If you make a habit of translating material the pupils will ignore what you say in the target language first and wait for the translation.
(e) They will make no effort to understand the material and without effort there will be no learning.
It is necessary for the pupils to hear you speaking Irish as much as possible during the Irish lesson – initially around 40% of the time, gradually increasing to say 70% and eventually reaching 100%.
“But they won’t understand.” +
(a) They do not have to understand each word. It is sufficient if they understand the general meaning initially.
(b) Remember that one cannot translate directly word for word from one language to another.
(c) Much can be expressed through voice, facial expressions and gestures.
(d) Material can also be explained through actions, or using suitable props, gestures, mime, images quickly drawn on a blackboard or whiteboard, pictures, or referring to basic words – for example, to explain barr na fuinneoige indicate and or name the window itself – fuinneog – and then indicate the top of the window as “barr na fuinneoige”.
(e) Sometimes it may be more effective to refer to the English term, but in such cases be sure to say the Irish term several times after using the English term. This will ensure that the Irish term is heard last and will remain with them.
(f) Use the new phrase/ saying/ sentence in context to help the pupil’s understanding of the meaning and use of the language.
“I have pupils in my class with special needs” +
As with all pupils each child’s need is different. However it may not be necessary to exclude pupils with special needs from Irish classes. It is a great pity to exclude them from an important element of their culture when very many could enjoy some at least of the work in an oral Irish lesson.
(a) Usually pupils with special needs can sing, learn and enjoy Irish songs and rhymes.
(b) The regularity and certainty of routines, language formulae and functions helps them.
(c) In this scheme we are dealing with conversational Irish and many pupils with special needs, can learn to speak Irish.
(d) When using board/ reading games they should be appropriate and compatible with the pupil’s level of ability in the language.
(e) There would also be a place in sketches/ drama for all pupils in a class.
“I have many immigrant pupils in my class” +
It is necessary to recognize the home- language of the pupils (Language Matters). On the whole they will not experience difficulties learning Irish if the home is supportive of the idea. It is necessary to take account of the class level, the age and the linguistic experience of the pupils.
Acknowledge the home language of immigrants.
“What will the parents say”? +
(a) Parents should be informed of the Gaelbhratach Scheme from the start See Language Awareness).
(b) Send material home – Phrases, stories on CDs, rhymes, poems, songs – (Teach a song that the parents would know.)
(c) Perhaps the parents could participate in the work – reading a story in Irish to the pupils in the library corner for example, or sitting and listening to an Irish story on a CD with the pupils.
(d) Explain the important role the parents play in supporting the children in any way they can. Parents will wish the best for their children and they will be happy when they hear the results – as long as the children are not stressed.