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Literacy and L1 Speakers of Irish

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Presentation on theme: "Literacy and L1 Speakers of Irish"— Presentation transcript:

1 Literacy and L1 Speakers of Irish
Matt Mac Cárthaigh Fios Feasa

2 Literacy and L1 Speakers of Irish
Approaches to teaching Irish The curriculum Language planning (standardisation and corpus development) Appropriate teaching resources

3 Approaches to Teaching Irish
As a language As culture

4 Approaches to Teaching Irish
Like English As culture As a language

5 The New Curriculum Heavy emphasis on spoken language
Influence of new approaches to teaching language (Communicative) Structural recognition of L1 and L2 schools L1: Gaeltacht and Gaelscoil L2: Other schools Initiation of literacy in Irish at different stages

6 Problems with Curriculum
L2 comes first Very little other follow-through School centred, not child centred No structured recognition of L1 children No parallel structures in English curriculum

7 Quotes from Curriculum
“Is ar chumarsáid agus ar úsáid na teanga mar ghnáth-theanga bheo a leagtar béim sa churaclam Gaeilge.” “Cuirfidh foghlaim na Gaeilge ar chumas an pháiste cumarsáid a dhéanamh in dhá theanga.” “Cuirfear béim ar leith ar thuiscint na teanga mar chéim thábhachtach i bhfoghlaim na teanga.” “(Is é is aidhm don churaclam) an Ghaeilge a shealbhú.”

8 Snáitheanna an Churaclaim
Éisteacht Labhairt Léitheoireacht Scríbhneoireacht “Tá sé mar aidhm ag an gcuraclam Gaeilge go mbeidh an páiste in ann Gaeilge a labhairt ar fhágáil na bunscoile dó/di fiú mura bhfuil ann ach labhairt go simplí.”

9 The Strands of the Curriculum
Receptiveness to language Competence and confidence in using language Developing cognitive abilities through language Emotional and imaginative development through language

10 The Strands of the Curriculum
Receptiveness to language “Be aware of nuances of language” “Assimilate what they hear and read” Competence and confidence in using language “Ability to use language as a speaker, reader, writer” Developing cognitive abilities through language “The child learns through lang, … uses lang to facilitate the cognitive organisation of concepts and ideas” “Knowledge is extended” Emotional and imaginative development “A better understanding of themselves and their relationships with others” “Glimpse the infinite possibilities of the human condition”

11 An Appropriate Curriculum
What we have: English curriculum, one size fits all Irish curriculum, for L1 and L2 schools What we should have: An L1 curriculum Irish for Irish speaking children English for English speaking children An L2 curriculum in Irish for English-speakers An L2 curriculum in English for Irish-speakers

12 Standardisation: What is it?
Standardising spelling Standardising grammar Standardising lexicon (corpus development) Terminology Public vernacular

13 Conflict Standardisation of major languages tied to prestige dialects
If not to prestige dialects, at least to language use by prestige groups Xish languages tend not to have such dialects or groups: the prestige group speaks Yish Various dialects of Xish have equal prestige, and equal practical claim to recognition

14 Conflict Standardisation work in Xish languages tends to be done by language activists, who are primarily second language learners This has linguistic implications: Learner language errors Stealth linguistic influence of Yish Suitability for learners prioritised Learners prioritised as a community

15 Made-up Words New words come from two primary sources:
Borrowing Manufacture Borrowing is natural and preferred by native speakers Made-up words are preferred by language learners

16 Made-up Words The curriculum has a section entitled “Caint Nádúrtha”
It stresses the importance of natural answers to questions It also includes these examples: “Ní maith liom borgaire!” “Is fuath liom borgaire!” “Tá an ghráin agam ar bhorgaire!”

17 Grammar Grammatical standardisation is separate from corpus development There are many problems with current “standard” or “official” Irish Concentrate on the noun phrase: Genitive of adjectives / qualified nouns Compound nouns Position of the article

18 1. Genitive of Adjectives
Gúna na mná bige Forbairt na teoirice coincréidí Teorainneacha na dúthaí áitiúla Modh na Lánfhreagartha Gníomhaí

19 2. Compound Nouns “A house dog” vs “a dog house”
“Hippopotamus” (vs “Potamohippos”) “Breithlá” vs “la breithe” “Scoilbhliain” vs. “bliain scoile” “Feirmbhreac” vs. “breac feirme” “An clódhath” vs. “dath an chló”

20 3. Position of the Article
An Roinn Oideachais An Roinn Gaeltachta vs Údaras na Gaeltachta Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte Which is “right”? Forbairt an earnáil turasóireachta? Forbairt an earnáil thurasóireachta? Forbairt na hearnála turasóireachta? Forbairt earnáil na turasóireachta!

21 International Context: Basque
“… this drive for linguistic purification and isolation had probably gone too far; native Basque speakers couldn’t understand the language that the Basque purists were advocating.” R. Marie Thatcher

22 International Context: Quechua
“… unfamiliar words are another obstacle to popular acceptance of the new standard varieties. In standardised Quechua, Spanish borrowings are purged. Lexical gaps are filled by archaic terms, metaphorical extension, or neologisms.” Aurolyn Luykx

23 International Context: Maori
“The Commission has brought a Trojan horse into the semantic citadel, and in the name of protecting the purity of the language in effect hastened its colonisation:” “I still tend to use words like Hanuere for January rather than Kohitatea when I write letters, because it’s more familiar to me... I’m not denying the place of these new words, but it’s a form of Māori that I’m not comfortable with. I suppose I’ll get used to it and start saying them. When we lose our old people who are native speakers, this form of Māori language will eventually be used more widely. This is the Māori langauge of the days ahead. ” (Māori)

24 International Context: AAVE
“When a five year old has his language system treated as inferior from his first day of school, the resulting psychological damage is inevitable. Once this barrier is raised by school officials, the child begins to withdraw and his learning performance suffers.” Plaintiff lawyer in a Detroit court case about AAVE

25 Conflict The fact that second language learners do most standardisation work also has sociolinguistic implications. Who owns the language? Who has the authority to say what’s “right” and “wrong”, “better” or “worse”? Who has control over the process? Who is the prestige group?

26 Conflict This conflict can even have negative implications for the language revival movement itself. Sitgmatised native speakers aren’t going to switch to standard language, but they may well switch to Yish Native speakers may be excluded from higher domains The value of diversity which underlies efforts to preserve the language is belied by such developments within the language community

27 Conflict: Quote “Movements to save minority languages ironically are often structured around the same received notions of language that have led to their oppression. Minority language activists often find themselves imposing standards, elevating literate forms and uses, and negatively sanctioning variability in order to demonstrate the reality, validity and integrity of their languages.” Kathryn Woolard Language Ideology as a Field of Inquiry

28 Appropriate Resources
Recordings for pedagogical purposes should always be of native speakers Dialects must be embraced, not disgraced Authentic language should be favoured over artificially manufactured language English assistance should be available as an option (turn it on or off) Creative original work should be favoured over translation Inculturation (“turnap” instead of “uiscemhealbhán”)

29 Approaches to Dialects
Standard text and non-native speakers Choose one dialect as a prestige dialect Use native speakers, but mix dialects (Séideán Sí) Make dialectical versions (Fios Feasa) With books they have to be alternative versions With technology, they can be offered on the same CD or website, with user choice at the click of a mouse button

30 Conclusion Education for L1 speakers of minority languages is similar to education for any minority group. It only works if it is centred on them, their needs, their priorities.

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