The learning and acquisition of Irish can be viewed as a journey. The students’ objective or destination on this language journey is to be capable, independent and self-governing language users. An important part of the language journey is language learning and acquisition in the junior cycle which progresses from the development of the language in primary school and continues into senior cycle.
It should be noted that some students will have more or less acquired the language as a result of their language background on this language journey and others will have acquired or almost acquired the language towards the end of their journey. In addition, students will have opportunities to use and communicate in the language in their environment. Before students reach their destination i.e. self-governing, independent use of the language, and even if they have acquired this independent use of the language, they have to go further on the journey to achieve accuracy, richness, a distinctive style and elegance. Input* helps the student on this journey. Output* is of particular importance for students on their journey, as are effective teaching, opportunities for use and interaction, classmates, the community and learning facilities and sources.
Teachers, in partnership with students, guide students on this journey. It is the teacher’s role to direct and facilitate teaching and learning. This means that they create a rich language input as part of the teaching. Teachers have expertise or special knowledge of the language and have particular knowledge and special skills relating to the teaching of the language (pedagogics) which facilitate learning. When students encounter challenges and difficulties, teachers provide
guidance, encouragement, help, feedback and support so that they may progress. Teachers provide appropriate models of rich language which stimulate and enable the student in making progress. They guide students in taking advantage of opportunities for language use and communication in the language environment. They encourage a respect for and stimulate curiosity in the language and Irish culture, and encourage students to be observant.
*The term Input refers to the language heard and seen in the learners’ environment or the language available to learners while Output relates to the language composed or generated by students themselves.