Culture from the ground up: teaching Irish language and heritage at Oideas Gael
Why learn a minority language like Irish? The phrase ‘ni lia duine na tuairim’ (‘people are no more plentiful than opinions’) seems apt as a response to this question. However, one area of increasing interest in recent years is the relationship between language and landscape, and how learning the oldest languages spoken in a given region can help to better understand that place and the people living there. For a long time, Oideas Gael, based in southwest Co. Donegal, has offered a variety of language courses and cultural activity holidays for visitors from Ireland and across the world, but more and more we have tried to interweave the teaching of the language with subjects like archaeology, geology, ecology, place names and folklore. This approach draws on the past but incorporates technology and modern teaching methods to offer participants a holistic picture of the present. This talk will discuss our efforts to date and what we have learned.
Ronan Dochartaigh is Language Director at Oideas Gael in Gleann Cholm Cille, located in the spectacular Donegal Gaeltacht. Oideas Gael has been providing courses in Irish language and culture since 1984. His background is in IT and he built several popular websites such as www.duchas.ie (National Folklore Collection of Ireland). He has also taught the Irish language to adults for almost 15 years and was previously a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the University of Notre Dame.