Sunday, 18 August 2013

Baile an Fheirtéaraigh Iúil 2013

Sign saying Baile an Fheirtéaraigh
Welcome to the gaeltacht!
Image credit: SM Jenkin
So, I visited the Irish speaking area in Dingle last month. I attended the one week (post beginners) course run by Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne. It was a most interesting experience overall, as it dealt with more than the words, they were placed in context. Their audience is clearly international, so there was a series of cultural events. A céilí, a quiz, a baking class in Irish at the excellent museum, other visits too including one to the Blasket islands.

However, the teaching. The teacher was lovely, approachable, personable but ... there was more evidence of teaching than of learning. I appreciate that teaching a class of post beginners must be awkward, but the purpose of learning is to practise rather than to listen. It took several days before this was addressed and for me this tarnished the experience. Eventually we were able to practise some dialogue with the other students in the class, but it was a hard slog getting there and then it was time to leave.

This isn't the first time I have experienced this style of teaching either - do you think this may be contributing to the overall malaise about language learning? It's hard enough for adults to put aside the time (and money) to learn. What other barriers do you think contribute? After all, isn't it easier to listen to a CD and practice by yourself?

However, despite the problems I've mentioned I would recommended, as the course overall covered far more than the language, it was all about the context. And the sun shone on us all, so it wasn't all bad....