Rationale

Students who  study Irish through this specification develop and deepen their language skills. When students embark on this journey of language acquisition, their personal, cognitive and social development progresses and they become  capable  of participating positively in their language community or communities. When students study Irish they can develop a desire to participate in the Irish language community and a respect for that community and for other language communities. Students’ knowledge of transferable skills and their mastery of the language will be critical both for learning and for life in general. This fosters students’ ability and confidence to develop as thoughtful citizens in the language community. By learning, acquiring and using  Irish, students discover information, develop thinking skills, and express opinions and emotions. Accordingly, students are able to manage various demands associated with school, the community, employment, further education and life as a whole.
 
Students find themselves on a continuum when it comes to their language acquisition journey. The many benefits of bilingualism are widely recognised in international research. Bilingualism and plurilingualism contribute to imaginative and creative ability, creating a multifaceted approach to life.
 
A certain level of competence in the Irish language is required in different employment fields 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 represents 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 diversity of the Irish language community is recognised. The term Irish language community comprises the areas where Irish exists as a living language in the community. In addition, the language is spoken by families on a day-to-day basis and by many new  speakers of the language outside those areas, all over the country and abroad. By studying Irish, students are connected to their own  language community. The language is a window through which they can look in parallel at their historical and contemporary culture and identity and gain an appreciation of the importance of assuming personal ownership of the language. Students show respect for the language spoken at home,  for local use of the language and for literary practices beyond school. By thinking about and studying Irish and elements of Irish culture, the students’ awareness the culture of the language community and culture of their own  local community increases. This
appreciation often 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. By studying the traditions of the local community, both new  and old, students’ intercultural awareness is developed. This enables them to explore and compare the views  and attitudes of the community and/or of their
own  community.
 
By exploring texts, including multi-modal texts, and appropriate communicative tasks based  on those texts, students develop ‘communication and thinking skills which enhance their appreciation of the language itself (language awareness). 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 learn about the structure of the language and how  it works. Students are able to use various language registers in context. Through appropriate language tasks based on those texts, students gain an understanding of the differences between spoken and written language. The observations and language awareness developed help students considerably in rectifying errors and inaccuracy. In addition, language awareness helps students make  informed language choices  while  manipulating subjects, ideas and concepts, not only in relation to Irish itself but also in other subjects. Students become  involved and engaged with one or all of the language skills; listening, reading, spoken production, spoken interaction and writing. They discuss  and compare and investigate a variety of texts, including literary texts, developing their communicative, thinking and critical skills. Students read literature with an insight and imagination not only in the classroom, but for their own  enjoyment 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 areas 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.