Teaching in unusual surroundings - Dún Chíomháin, a house in the countryside

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Ní Riain, Isobel
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University College Cork
National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
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I teach the Irish language in University College Cork (UCC), Ireland. I lead weekend courses in Dún Chíomháin which is a house owned by UCC in West Kerry. The area in which the house is located forms part of the Gaeltacht, i.e. an Irish speaking area. The goal of the weekends is for the students to speak Irish to each other in an amenable language environment. In Dún Chíomháin, a kitchen, a sitting room and a dining room make up the primary teaching spaces. The learning and teaching is conversational (Baker et al. 2002). The students and teacher interact naturally and without ceremony over cornflakes and toast. The meals are cooked by the students as the Irish words for utensils and tea towels and a host of unforeseen language needs all bubble up amongst the chaos of meal preparation. In Dún Chíomháin, students realise that they don’t know the words for several everyday objects. Such words have never been taught to them, and they have never felt the need to know them before. It is not always easy for students (first years of 18 or 19 years of age usually) to start speaking Irish to their peers when they habitually speak to them in English. I have been observing these problems for some years now and wondered what could be done to help students to make the switch form English to Irish.
Irish language , Dún Chíomháin , Gaeltacht
Ní Riain, I. (2019) 'Teaching in unusual surroundings - Dún Chíomháin, a house in the countryside', Learning Connections 2019: Spaces, People, Practice, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, 5-6 December, pp. 4-6. doi: 10.33178/LC.2019.01
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