Minster for Education Joe McHugh has initiated a pilot project to teach Irish through physical education (PE) in primary schools.
The pilot scheme is part of a project to support and promote learning of the Irish language through other subjects, Mr McHugh told the INTO annual congress in Galway on Tuesday.
Referring to his own decision to immerse himself in learning Irish after he was appointed Minister for Gaeltacht in 2014, Mr McHugh said that he had taken up jogging at the same time, and trained himself to talk to himself through the first language.
He also talked to himself in Irish when trying to sleep at night, he said - to a ripple of laughter from some of the INTO delegates.
Mr McHugh explained that the theory and practice of “content and language integrated learning” had been proven to work, which gave pupils the opportunity “learn a subject other than Irish through the medium of Irish”.
“Our language - 2,500 years old - is the summation of much of our heritage,” he said, and he was “determined to facilitate an improvement in the teaching and learning of Irish”.
“I don’t simply want to see children learn Irish. I want to encourage everyone to use the language as much as they can,” he said.
In his response to the minister’s address, INTO general secretary designate John Boyle referred in Irish to the issue of PE through Irish for pupils who had “no halla” or gym in the first place.