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3 Draft Leaving Certificate specifications consultations

3 Draft Leaving Certificate specifications consultations

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Studying Irish helps students to build on their learning to date and to enhance their skills so they can enjoy using  the Irish language. Through learning languages, students are provided with the opportunity to gain the understanding, knowledge and skills to develop their personal, cognitive and social development, as well as their effective participation in the global society.  Students’ knowledge of transferable skills and mastery of a language such  as Irish will be critical both for learning and in their life in general. This fosters students’ ability and confidence to develop as considerate citizens in the language community. By learning, acquiring and using  Irish, students discover information, develop thinking skills, and express opinions and emotions. Therefore, students are able to manage various demands associated with school, the community, employment, further education and life as a whole.  The language learning journey, from learner to a bilingual user, is a continuum. The many benefits of bilingualism are widely recognised in international research. Bilingualism and plurilingualism contribute to a person’s imaginative and creative ability and they create a multifaceted approach to life.


A particular level of competence in the Irish language is required in different employment areas in Ireland and overseas. Government departments and agencies have a statutory obligation

to provide services through the medium of Irish. The official and working status of the Irish language in the European Union creates further opportunities for employment. Irish is an advantage for students who  wish  to work in these various fields or who  want to conduct their business through the medium of Irish.


The language is a window whereby students can look both at their historical and contemporary culture and identity, and therefore gain an appreciation of the importance of assuming personal ownership of the language. By studying Irish, students are given  the opportunity to identify with the language community* and participate in it to best take advantage of communication opportunities. By thinking about and studying Irish and elements of the Irish culture, students’ awareness of the culture of the language grows. Often this appreciation encourages students to consider their own  place in the world and to think about cultural identity on a wider basis. The deeper connection and appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of their community can be empowering for students. Where students gain a better understanding of the language culture, they are given  the opportunity to appreciate other cultures and languages.


Students learn about the structure of the language and how  it works. Students enhance their appreciation of the language itself (language awareness) by exploring texts, including multi-modal texts. Through appropriate language tasks based on such  texts, students gain an understanding

of the differences between spoken and written language. They observe different aspects of

the language from the way it is used on a daily basis to how  it is expressed in writing. Students are encouraged to observe the aspects of the language which are not comparable to English (vocabulary, grammar, syntax and pronunciation). Students are able to address difficulties in understanding and learning and they are able to understand the reasons for their own  mistakes through a systematic comparison between Irish and English or between Irish and another language. Students become  involved and engaged in all of the language skills: listening, reading, spoken production, spoken interaction and writing. They discuss, compare and investigate a variety of texts, including literary texts, developing their communication, thinking and critical skills. Students read literature with an insight and imagination not only in the classroom but for their own  benefit as well. As they read relevant texts, the students’ critical ability is developed.


As learning is a social activity as well as a personal activity, students engage with the skills and opportunities associated with both personal and collaborative learning to achieve appropriate language goals. By interacting with the teacher and with classmates and through reflection, students’ appreciation of themselves as language learners grows. They gradually become  familiar with their own  learning strategies and personal style of learning. By completing various language tasks, students understand the areas where they have seen  an improvement in language use, the aspects which require further improvement and how  to undertake those improvements. As a result, students’ confidence and their ability to self-manage both their learning and the language are enhanced. Students build on their language and digital skills while  creating texts, communicating online or seeking information, considerably expanding their general digital literacy. As students’ respect for and mastery of Irish is developed, they will have more opportunities to enjoy life and to do their best for society, both now and in the future.


*Language community: a community where the target language is spoken as the language of communication in the home and in domains outside of it.


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