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The Mini-Revival of the Irish Language

source:未知 Editor:supermanTime:2015-05-30 12:31

There seems to be a general perception that Ireland's national language is perpetually on its last legs. But according to Ireland's Higher Education Authority, the number of students studying Irish at the college level is not only very healthy, but has been described as enjoying a "mini-revival." There are many possible reasons for the resurgence of interest in the Irish language. Some point to the steady rise of Irish-language preschool and primary education since the 1970s, which may now be contributing to an increased demand for Irish-language courses at the college level. Others suggest that innovative programs at universities and colleges have revolutionized the way in which students relate to languages. On the international front, the Fulbright Commission Ireland, which sponsors student and teacher exchange programs between the U.S. and Ireland, has been growing steadily since 2006. Currently, it has links to around 50 college-level U.S. institutions and 90 community organizations involved with teaching and promoting Irish. Liam Mac Mathúna, emeritus professor of Irish at University College Dublin and editor of Irish studies magazine Éigse, points to the development of postgraduate research and international interest in languages as contributing factors in the rise of Irish studies. Mathúna says two other factors include the Official Languages Act of 2003 and the fact that Irish is now one of the official working languages of the EU. "The reason why people are so interested [in studying Irish] is that they're realizing there's a difference between the curriculum that's in the schools and what the language actually is," says Oisín Ó Doinn, who is working on a PhD on the use of technology in teaching Irish. "I'm always surprised at people going, 'Why would anyone want to learn Irish?' My question would be, 'Why would they not?'"

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