Thursday, March 11, 2021

By Niamh Uí Chadhla, Gaelscoil Chill Dara

Seachtain na Gaeilge is being celebrated all across the country at present and the activities available online are wonderful. Here in Kildare, Sult na Sollán have a wide variety of activities for all ages, Kildare Library are adding to their wonderful Irish language resources constantly and thanks to the Riverbank Arts Centre schools can bring author Patricia Forde into their classrooms with a beautiful Irish language reading session for the month of March!

At this time especially each year the focus is on Gaeilge, so I have brought together ten ideas and/or resources which I hope may support and guide anyone who is looking for information in this area for themselves or their children.

Firstly, Irish is a beautiful language and the primary school curriculum is laid out in a manner which aims to introduce the children to the beauty of the language, the spoken and written language as well as the cultural aspects. This new primary language curriculum also aims to provide the children with skills and knowledge to enable them to transfer their knowledge and skills from one language to another. Teaching for transfer of skills across languages is a very useful document and an interesting read which describes the manner in which children can be taught to transfer their language skills from one language to another and the benefits which this provides! More than half of the world’s population speak more than one language and the advantages are very well documented.

Secondly, remember everything you do in your home language can be done in Irish; reading, writing, listening to stories, playing games such as Simon says or I Spy, singing songs and saying rhymes, all are transferable from one language to another. All language activities which you do in any language will be supporting the development of linguistic skills which is a win-win for all languages. Very interestingly, recent research is pointing to a connection between a delay in the symptoms of Alzheimer’s for bilingual speakers relative to monolingual speakers.

If you are a new Irish language learner or you have not engaged with the language in a long time, you may need materials to support you to do the above activities! Read on, I will share a few here but there are more, lots more.

3. Listen to the Irish language, I would recommend Cúla4, An Siopa Ealaíne and Spongebob are always a great hit. Cúla4 ar scoil is available on the TG4 player and is a wonderful resource for children, for adults Ros na Rún is TG4’s award-winning soap and is celebrating its Silver Jubilee. TG4 are also well known for their wonderful documentaries which are all available with English subtitles. Cúla4 also have language apps available.

4. To engage with the language I would highly recommend a newly developed programme for children An féidir leat? This programme, developed by Gaeilge Mhaigh Cuilinn, Galway, will give you and your child an opportunity to enjoy stories, activities and use a few words at the same time. An féidir leat! Can you do it? Yes you can! Is féidir leat!

5. There are very few children I have met that don’t enjoy music or a catchy song, so to practice using your Irish while also reading if you have the words (they are under the video in Lurgan videos) you could sing along with the wonderful songs available free of charge from TG Lurgan on YouTube or for something a little more traditional you could use the wonderful site www.askaboutireland.ie which has a large selection of Irish language songs and their lyrics here!

6. A very important aspect of the Irish language is to ensure that you are pronouncing the sounds correctly. Mar a déarfá has a wonderful video in the three primary dialects of Irish which will help any learner to recognise and pronounce the sounds correctly. Once you know your sounds, Túsfhuaimeanna which can be downloaded at www.stmarys-belfast.ac.uk/aisaonad/Litearthacht.html is a very nice introduction to vocabulary and Fios fuaimeanna will keep you busy with what is in the picture/ name 5 things in the picture starting with b/ I spy games for quite a while! Cad atá sa phictiúr? Ainmnigh 5 rud a thosaíonn le b. Feicim le mo shúilín beag rud éigean a thosaíonn le b.

7. Cluichí – games, playing games is a wonderful way to use vocabulary which you have gained while watching a programme or using the websites recommended above, everything you play in the home language can be played as Gaeilge, bingo, snap, go fish/ ag iascaireacht, match/ meaitseáil, I spy/ feicim le mo shúilín, words that begin with the same letter/ focail a thosaíonn le, give me a new word which begins with the last letter of my word / tabhair dom focal nua a thosaíonn leis an litir deiridh i m’fhocalsa, word tennis/ leadóg focal – where you choose a theme and keep saying words based on the topic one at a time until someone has no new words – an older child could write the words to ensure they aren’t used twice! I went to the shop and I bought/ Chuaigh mé go dtí an siopa agus cheannaigh mé… A wonderful resource with lots of words already prepared and matched with pictures has been developed by Gaeloideachas. The Foclóir ar Théamaí éagsúla (vocabulary) and Lipéidí (labels) are perfect to print out and use for language games, however older children could write and create the resources (Acmhainní Resources from Gaeloideachas).

8. Askabout Ireland above and Séideán Sí provide a nice selection of ebooks as Gaeilge, Ask about Ireland is more suitable for 3rd class on. The books are presented with the text and can be read as an audio if required. However, if you prefer a nice cosy story time experience, Cula4 have compiled a wonderful selection of stories, Scéal an Lae, while Foras na Gaeilge have compiled a wonderful collection of rhymes and stories to listen to free of charge on Soundcloud.

9. Other wonderful options for learning new vocabulary are Duolingo and Frása an Lae from Gaelchultúr and the new Instagram and Facebook page Gaeilge sa Bhaile is wonderful as the words are in English, Irish and also the phonetic pronunciation for the Irish words!

10. Dictionaries – Focloir.ie is a very user-friendly dictionary which also puts words in context and provides lovely phrases. Teanglann.ie provides pronunciation in the three dialects. An Draoi Gramadaí is a grammar wizard which will help find the right conjugation of the verb, combine nouns, adjectives etc correctly! It really is a wizard!

I hope that these pieces of information are helpful, but don’t forget Irish is not just for Seachtain na Gaeilge! And with groups like Glór na nGael, Sult na Sollán, Glór an Churraigh, Gaeilge Nuada, the Ciorcal Comhrá in Kildare Libraries, Comhaltas and so many other organisations providing opportunities to learn and use Irish in social settings, it has never been easier to celebrate Seachtain na Gaeilge in Kildare all year round!

By Conor Forrest
Contact Newsdesk: 045 432147

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