Students to take PE classes in Irish to boost fluency

During its development phase, the project will be rolled out by the department of education in two early years settings, five primary schools and five post-primary schools.

Students are to tackle Physical Education ‘as Gaeilge’ to boost their fluency in the language as part of a new pilot programme to be rolled out in selected schools.

Launched this week, the three-year project will use PE classes to promote the learning of Irish, expanding each year.

During its development phase, the project will be rolled out by the department of education in two early years settings, five primary schools and five post-primary schools.

“We must be ambitious in our approach to the language and how it is taught and endeavour to make it relevant to the next generation and instil a love of the language,” Education Minister Joe McHugh said.

Initiatives like this will help to take learning out of the classroom, to make it as simple as possible for children to use and improve their Irish in a fun and everyday way. We are also combining all those other benefits that come with PE – it is good for the mind and body and wellbeing.

The department hopes the project sees more children adopt Irish naturally beyond the classroom, he added.

This September, the department will seek expressions of interest from English-medium early years settings and schools who wish to take part in the first phase of the pilot project.

Schools not selected for the first year of the pilot may be included in the next round of the project, according to the department.

A wider roll-out of the approach is also expected to take place on an incremental basis during the second and third year of the project.

Using Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) methodology, the project will aim to improve school children’s competence, disposition and confidence when learning the language.

The department also hopes that it will support teachers to implement a CLIL approach to language learning.

Tony Sweeney of the Froebel department of primary and early childhood education at Maynooth University said: “We welcome CLIL as a dual-focused approach in which Gaeilge is used meaningfully in the teaching and learning in quality Physical Education lessons."

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