Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Ceisteanna (30)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

30. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that there is now no school-based oral examination of the Irish syllabus at junior cycle. [47776/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Education)

Táim ag ardú ábhar tábhachtach maidir le scrúdú béil na Gaeilge sa teastas sóisearach. Tá sé imithe ach beidh a fhios ag an Aire go bhfuil conspóid ann faoi láthair maidir le cé chomh crua is atá an páipéar Gaeilge agus maidir leis an easpa scóip le béalthuiscint a thaispéaint do scrúdaitheoirí. Tá múinteoirí Gaeilge ar fud na tíre ar buile maidir leis seo. Tá siad buartha go gcuirfidh an scrúdú seo, an deacracht a bhaineann leis, agus an easpa scrúdú béil daltaí as a bheith ag foghlaim na Gaeilge. Ceapann siad gur dáinséar don Ghaeilge é.

Gabhaim buíochas as an cheist. Chuala mé an díospóireacht thar an choicís faoin chonspóid agus chuala mé an díospóireacht agus an comhrá faoi na deacrachtaí. Tá an scrúdú nua le teacht isteach den chéad uair in 2020. Beidh imní ar dhaoine faoin am atá ann chun é a chríochnú. Beidh cruinniú agam le mo chuid oifigeach agus leis an State Examinations Commission Déardaoin seo chugainn faoi na rudaí sin.

The development of students’ oral language skills is to the fore in the new specifications for Irish at junior cycle. The previous oral examination was optional and was taken by approximately 40% of students. The new assessment arrangements, on the other hand, require all students to engage in an assessment of their oral skills through classroom-based assessment. This gives a greater opportunity for all students to develop and enhance their oral language proficiency skills over the three years of the junior cycle and to foster their ability to use the Irish language. The assessment of these skills forms an integral component of the overall language learning experience and occurs in a number of ways.

As well as the completion of tasks where students use and demonstrate their oral language skills to achieve specific learning outcomes, their oral language skills are also formally assessed through the two new classroom-based assessments. The second classroom-based assessment, in particular, is entirely based on students’ oral language competence. It is linked to ongoing classroom exchanges and represents a more authentic reflection of students’ interests and competence levels in Irish. Importantly, the oral skills of all students will now be assessed in classroom-based assessments and formally reported upon in each student’s junior cycle profile of achievement.

My Department remains committed to encouraging the use of spoken Irish. The development of the new curriculum specifications for Irish at junior cycle was informed by research and extensive consultation with the education partners, including practising teachers and students. Extensive continuing professional development is being provided to teachers and is complemented by a range of other supports. The new approach gives better recognition to the development of students’ oral competence, including their ability to speak Irish, over the three years of the junior cycle.

Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire. Le roinnt seachtainí anuas, tá múinteoirí ag cur glaoch orm maidir leis an easpa scrúdú béil agus le cé chomh deacair is atá an páipéar. Tá an tAire ag rá go mbaineann an obair bhéil i rith an chúrsa, na CBAs, le fíorshaol na ndaltaí. Tá na múinteoirí ag rá a mhalairt. Tá siad ag rá go bhfuil an páipéar nua ródheacair. Bheadh roinnt de na ceisteanna deacair ó thaobh an Bhéarla nó na heolaíochta freisin. Caithfidh na daltaí aistí ar roinnt de na hábhair sin a scríobh as Gaeilge.

In recent days, I have been inundated with calls from teachers who have raised serious issues about Irish at junior cycle. I am raising this issue in the context of the lack of oral work, which is at the heart of this. The Minister referred to classroom-based assessment being in place in order to develop Irish language skills, but I am not sure that will work because while he said that will be more authentic, the sample examination paper which has been provided to schools is completely inauthentic in terms of the day-to-day lives of students. It is really difficult and some of the terminology is new to me and to some teachers. It refers to descriptive imagery and so on, which is difficult not only in Irish but also in English. There are ways of doing this properly, but the danger is that, following the removal of oral Irish as an examination component and the introduction of a difficult Irish exam at that level, we run the risk of turning people off the language, which would be very unfortunate.

I appreciate the Deputy raising this issue because this is a subject area which requires deliberation. We have introduced interventions in the Gaeltacht area, including the tumoideachas, the Gaeltacht recognition scheme, which is working well. It is hard to believe that even in recent years some Gaeltacht schools taught through the medium of English. That has all changed and there is now 100% take-up at post-primary level and 80% take-up at primary level. We have to get to a position in our English medium schools whereby we can examine what is working. A lot of good stuff is working and many teachers have been very creative in bringing the love of the Irish language into the classroom.

The motivation behind the new curriculum is to try to ensure more communication at junior certificate level and continuity in the transition from primary to secondary level. That is why I initiated the content and integrated language learning, CILL, pilot project which involves ensuring that young people are learning Irish through physical education, mathematics and other subject areas. I take on board the Deputy's comments on difficulties raised by teachers in respect of the sample paper. I will speak to my officials on Thursday to bring these issues to the fore if there is enough time available.

De ghnáth, ní bhíonn baint ag polaiteoirí leis an gcuraclam. Fágaimid é sin do na saineolaithe agus na daoine atá bainteach le forbairt an churaclaim ach, sa chás seo tá múinteoirí na tíre, na saineolaithe is tábhachtaí, ag rá go bhfuil deacrachtaí anseo.

Táim ag súil chun cloisteáil ón Aire maidir le torthaí na gcainteanna a mbeidh ar siúl aige.

This is a serious issue and I am glad the Minster has an interest in it. We have a good chance to get this right and ensure that the Irish language promoted. On that note, I pay tribute to Ms Zainab Boladale from RTÉ, who has been the subject of vicious racist abuse. Ms Boladale moved from Nigeria to Ireland at the age of four. The fact that she can give an interview on television as Gaeilge is a testament to her, her family and the Irish education system. We have a national hang-up about the national language and how badly taught it is, how difficult it is, etc. Ms Boladale can inspire all of us to use the Irish language daily and ensure that we have the level of Irish we all should have, particularly in view of the level of resources devoted to the subject. I refer to not blaming teachers or schools, I am asking what we, as a nation, are prepared to do about the Irish language. I am grateful for Irish teachers coming forward on this issue and giving up their free time to try to bring about change. Their interest is in the language and the students learning it.

Aontaím leis na pointí deireanacha a rinne an Teachta maidir leis an bhean atá ag obair in RTÉ. Aontaím freisin faoin leanúnachas agus an díospóireacht faoin teanga. Sílim gur chóir do dhaoine tosú níos óige, roimh an scoil, agus go mbeadh leanúnachas ann tríd an bhunscoil agus an mheánscoil ina dhiaidh sin. Ba chóir do pháistí a bheith ag foghlaim na teanga go nádúrtha agus i mbealach sóisialta, ag labhairt lena gcairde agus iad ag súgradh, lena dtuismitheoirí sa siopa, nó lena gcomharsana trí Ghaeilge. Is iad sin rudaí nádúrtha.

Tá athbheochan ag tarlú sa Ghaeilge, agus tá suim ag daoine, tuismitheoirí agus múinteoirí scoile, inti. Teastaíonn cuidiú ó mhúinteoirí maidir leis na scileanna a bheidh uathu. Beidh muid ag bogadh na n-ábhar le chéile maidir le CLIL agus beidh acmhainní breise faoina choinne sin thar trí bliana. Tá muid ag amharc freisin ar na scoileanna lán-Bhéarla agus ag iarraidh go mbeidh níos mó solúbthachta agus suntasachta acu amach anseo d’fhoghlaim na Gaeilge.