Over 120 third and fourth class pupils from Scoil Mhuire Girls’ N.S. Lucan are currently taking part in the Primary Language Sampler module, ‘Say Yes to Languages’, an initiative made available by the Department of Education as part of Ireland’s national Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017–2026. The initiative was met with overwhelming enthusiasm in primary schools nationwide last year and with the extension of the pilot scheme for a second year this year, interest looks set to continue with 700 schools having registered to take part in 2022/2023.
‘Say Yes to Languages’ offers an introduction into a variety of modern foreign languages and Irish Sign Language (ISL) while also looking to raise awareness among pupils of the diversity of languages being used by their peers in their schools and community. The pupils at Scoil Mhuire Girls’ N.S. are saying YES to Irish Sign Language (ISL), with ISL lessons being delivered over an eight-week period during the normal school timetable.
Speaking about the module Principal Sinéad Bennis notes, “We are delighted to be taking part in ‘Say Yes to Languages’ this year. The response has been overwhelmingly positive right across the school community– from pupils and teachers to parents and tutors. We chose ISL as our target language for the SAY Yes to Languages initiative as we have a number of pupils within our school community who have hearing loss and/ or communication difficulties, and some for whom ISL is their only language of communication. Giving our pupils and staff an opportunity to learn ISL will enrich our school and ensure that Scoil Mhuire Girls’ N.S. is a welcoming and innovative learning environment in which all of our pupils feel included and valued.”
“It is a fun, interactive and engaging programme which really begins to set the foundations for an ongoing positive relationship with languages and in the context of our choice of Irish Sign Language as our target language, it promotes inclusion within our school community. This will be of great benefit to our pupils as they continue through their education, hopefully bringing with them a love of languages, and will enable them to contribute to building an equitable and inclusive society” adds Principal Sinéad Bennis
Tutors of the module may be teachers or part of the wider school community including parents, native speakers or other staff members. Ms. Jennifer Cooper is delivering the ISL module this year at Scoil Mhuire Girls’ N.S. and is excited to have the opportunity to share her passion for ISL with the pupils, having gained the skills while studying in the Centre for Deaf Studies, Trinity College Dublin, for four years and her subsequent work within the education sector as an ISL tutor and advocate. The module is being rolled out with the support of Languages Connect and PPLI (Post-Primary Languages Ireland), a unit of the Department of Education.
A suite of resources has been produced including lesson plans for teachers and tutors and ‘Language Passports’ for all participating pupils to show their family and friend. Packs have been sent to participating schools to help support both the teaching and learning, but also awareness raising objectives of the module. More information regarding the modules, tutor expression of interest and supports are available at www.languagesconnect.ie/primary