Tuesday 23 July 2019

Irish language to be taught through PE classes

The project hopes to foster learning outside the classroom.

Joe McHugh and Leo Varadkar in front of signage in Gaeilge and English (Brian Lawless/PA)
Joe McHugh and Leo Varadkar in front of signage in Gaeilge and English (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Cate McCurry, Press Association

Irish will be taught through PE classes in a bid to improve school children’s confidence in learning and speaking the language.

The three-year project encourages primary and post-primary students to adopt the Irish language more naturally outside the classroom when talking and playing.

The aim of the PE as Gaeilge project is to improve school children’s competence, disposition and confidence when learning the language.

It will also support teachers to implement a Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach to language learning.

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh launched a project on Thursday.

He was joined at Maynooth University by Ireland soccer international Amber Barrett, a history and English teacher in Beneavin College in Dublin, and Ireland rugby captain Ciara Griffin, a primary teacher in CBS Tralee, along with Peter Kelly, Kildare footballer and teacher in St Patrick’s Boys School in Rathangan.

The PE as Gaeilge project will run as a pilot, using the CLIL methodology in primary and post-primary schools with the project expanding over the three years.

Mr McHugh said: “We must be ambitious in our approach to the language and how it is taught and endeavour to make it relevant to the next generation and instil a love of the language.

“Initiatives like this will help to take learning out of the classroom, to make it as simple as possible for children to use and improve their Irish in a fun and everyday way.

“We are also combining all those other benefits that come with PE – it is good for the mind and body and wellbeing.”

As part of the launch, Mikaila Greenan and Colm Keane, who have just completed teacher education degrees at Maynooth University Froebel Department and undertook CLIL research, demonstrated PE as Gaeilge lessons with 4th class pupils of English-medium primary school Scoil San Carlo in Leixlip.

Mr McHugh said: “We hope that the project will see more and more children adopt Irish naturally when they are talking, playing and communicating in real contexts beyond the classroom.”

Tony Sweeney, from Maynooth University, said: “We welcome CLIL as a dual-focused approach in which Gaeilge is used meaningfully in the teaching and learning in quality Physical Education lessons.

“Froebel Department’s student teachers at Maynooth University have been successfully employing this approach on a cross-curricular basis during their primary school placements in recent years.”

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