The debate of whether to remove the Irish language off the compulsory Leaving Certificate subject list has been ‘i mbéal an phobail’ for quite some time now.
There seems to be a push to remove Irish as it is deemed a “useless subject” and one that could be replaced with a much more valuable language such as French or German, and while this point is very valid here are a few things to consider before taking your side on the debate.
1. “Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam“
Without trying to get too patriotic the above saying holds a lot of power. A country without its language, is a country without a name, without a soul, without an identity and that is what would become of Ireland if we were to remove our own national language from schools across the country.
2. School is one of the only places people learn Irish.
School is where most people begin to learn Irish and where most people leave it. The basics of the language are taught in school, examined and that is where most people leave it. So to remove it from the compulsory list would mean a loss of each Irish citizen getting the basic conversational grasp of their own language.
3. Fight to change to way the language is taught, not to remove it.
Irish language is taught in one of the most ridiculous ways. It is taught like a foreign language when you’ve been learning it from the time you were five. The content learned and the examining process hasn’t been updated since prehistoric times. So instead of wanting to do away with Irish, lobby to have the way it is taught changed so that it becomes enjoyable and people actually want to learn it.
4. Schools having Irish is what keeps the language alive.
Irish isn’t a widely spoken language in Ireland anymore, therefore, schools play a huge part in keeping the language alive. Taking it away would mean a lot less people would learn it, which would mean it would slip deeper into becoming a dying language and eventually dead altogether.
5. People literally fought and died for our right to learn Irish.
Way back when we were under the colonisation of the British empire, Irish became a banned language, people being forced to learn an entirely new language; English. In rebellions, uprisings, and all throughout our history our own ancestors fought and fought hard for their right to speak their own language and for the right of their future families. It would be an insult to them and our history to have Irish removed from the compulsory list.
6. Irish is actually making a comeback.
In past years, from data collected from the census, Irish has seen a growth in people using it and to make a huge mistake like taking Irish off the compulsory list of subjects would be a huge setback for the Gaeilgoirí, Gaeltacht areas and the country.
The bottom line is that taking Irish off the compulsory list would be a mistake and we would lose a lot more than just a subject. We’d lose a whole language and the struggle to keep it alive would be in vain. The curriculum should be changed so it’s not a memorising game, not removed completely. The Irish language is the heart of our identity, who would we be without it?
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