Introduction to this specification
Who is this specification for?
This specification is aimed at native speakers and learners of Irish in Gaeltacht schools and at students in the Irish-medium sector Gaelcholáistí and Irish-medium units more generally.
These schools have a diverse linguistic landscape. Irish-medium schools (L1 schools*) provide for students from diverse linguistic backgrounds, native speakers and learners of Irish; those whose main language at home is Irish, those who come from bilingual homes, those whose main language at home is English, and those who come from multilingual/bilingual families.
In the specification, the language needs of both native speakers of Irish and learners of Irish are considered. The provision of enriched language-learning experiences for all students, particularly those who are native speakers of Irish, is of the utmost importance. These students use the language on a daily basis, at home, in the neighbourhood and in school. Due to their immediate language environment, they have fairly well-developed productive and receptive language skills. This specification aims to develop, enrich and enhance the full range of students’ language skills.
As students undertake this specification they develop their vocabulary and their command of colloquialisms. They learn the importance of using accurate, rich language. Arising from their language environment, they recognise beochultúr na Gaeilge and have opportunities to internalise this culture. This represents an important step for students at junior cycle, as they grow and develop as capable, active users of Irish.
*L1 is the language medium of the school (English in English-medium schools; Irish in Irish-medium schools). L2 is the second language (Irish in English-medium schools; English in Irish-medium schools).
This specification supports native Irish speakers by providing for enriched language-learning experiences that will enable them to>
improve language skills
enrich language and cultural awareness and awareness of self as a language learner
expand and enrich vocabulary
differentiate between dialects (outside of own dialect)
focus on language as a system, i.e. understand language patterns
understand various language registers.
It is expected that these competencies and understandings would support native Irish speakers to:
take advantage of opportunities for language use in the community
learn through Irish across the curriculum
play an active part in Gaeltacht community life.
This approach is in line with the State’s policy on the Irish language: The 20-Year Strategy for theIrish Language 2010-2030 (2010), the Gaeltacht Act (2012) and the Gaeltacht Education Policy 2017-2022 (2016). Criteria for recognition as a Gaeltacht school are set down as part of the Gaeltacht Education Policy. At post-primary level, a recognised Gaeltacht school will implement this L1 specification for Irish at junior cycle and will encourage the uptake of the specification by students, particularly native speakers of Irish*.
*Department of Education and Skills (2016). Policy for Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022, p. 12.
The learning outcomes in each of the three strands of this specification are broadly aligned with the B2 descriptors independent language user, of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR*). All language skills need not be acquired at the same level, for example spoken competency could be more advanced than written for example. The student relies on the teacher’s feedback and guidance, their own self-awareness as a language learner and opportunities to use language to further develop their language skills.
* Language proficiencies are set out in the CEFR: A1, A2 (basic user), B1, B2 (independent user) and C1, C2 (proficient user). See: Council of Europe (2001). Common European Reference of Framework for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press