Have you been wondering if you should send your son or daughter to the Gaeltacht and what the benefits to both you and your son or daughter are in going? Antaine Ó Cuinn, Bainisteoir Margaíochta, Coláiste UISCE, gives some advice to parents on the Gaeltacht and its benefits.
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Why should you send your child to the Gaeltacht?
Ask yourself the following question: Is your son or daughter able to read and write Irish, but unable to converse in our native tongue?
Now that the Leaving Cert awards 40% for the oral exam and 10% for the aural of the total percentage that is 50% of the overall mark, if you want your children to have the best chance in getting the highest marks, then the Gaeltacht is the option for you.
What is the Gaeltacht?
The Gaeltacht is a 2 or 3 week course run over Easter or summer holidays, where the participants are immersed in the Irish language and culture while engaging with native Irish speakers, attending Irish classes and conversing through the Irish language. They have the option of staying with Bean an Tí’s or some colleges offer on site supervised accommodation.
Each day will be packed with activities, fun ways of learning Irish but with a particular focus on the conversational Irish. Some Gaeltacht colleges have nationally recognised approved accreditation. For example, Coláiste UISCE in Co. Mayo offer sailing and windsurfing through Irish – Irish Sailing, Windsurfing and Surfing Association approved. This accreditation is your guarantee that your child receives the highest standards in relation to safety standards, instructor / pupil ratios, buoyancy Aids, water sports equipment and qualifications of instructors.
Attending a Gaeltacht ensures that your children will learn Irish in a natural and fun environment and they will leave with a far better understanding and respect for the Irish language.
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What are the academic benefits?
With 50% of the Irish Leaving Cert exam, based on the oral and aural combined, it has never been more important to send your children to the Gaeltacht. Students’ understanding and conversational ability and Irish language techniques will improve significantly after attending a course. For example, they will be able to converse with more ease with the examiner and listen more accurately to the tape.
Some colleges also have exam focused streams during Easter and summer, these courses focus on both Paper 1, Paper 2 and the Oral Exams. In Coláiste UISCE these are known as the Diansraith streams available at Easter and an Cúrsa E. Parents are provided with feedback sheets from mock interviews.
What can they gain from the programme?
Along with the strong focus on Irish, there is also the focus on personal development and how to deal with situations faced by teens today and into their future. Interactive games also have a focus on team work, confidence building and life skills, such as drama, film making, these increase confidence and allow the students to discover where their strengths and passions lie in their everyday life.
There is also the added benefit of future employment, on Easter and summer courses, as Cinnirí, Ardchinnirí or Ardchinnirí Sinsearacha, for those who have attended the Gaeltacht previously.
Advantages of attending a Gaeltacht course
- Strong focus on conversational Irish
- Preparation for state exams, Junior Cert and Leaving Cert
- Mock interview, for oral exams with a different teacher
- Tips on answering Paper 1 and Paper 2
- Personal, life and social skills development / confidence building / team working
- Opportunity to meet, socialise and make new friends from all over the country
- Activities – water sport, drama, film making, dance, singing, céilís and team building activities
What’s your teen’s experience of Gaeltacht courses? Share your thoughts in the comments below