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The Irish For: How a familiar tale can help young bookworms become bilingual

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18.08.2019

THIS IS THE latest dispatch from our columnist Darach Ó Séaghdha, author of the award-winning and bestselling Motherfoclóir. Every Sunday morning, Darach will be regaling (re-Gaeling?) us with insights on what the Irish language says about Ireland, our society, our past and our present. Enjoy.

There’s a scene in The Wire when a teenage drug dealer is helping his younger brother with his math (yes, “math” – it’s not set in Baltimore, Cork) homework.

The boy can’t get his head around the question in the textbook, but when the older boy presents the same problem as a drug deal, he works it out immediately. Once counting matters, he understands.

Much like Kurt Vonnegut’s repeated refrain “so it goes”, or the Persian adage “this too shall pass”, there’s a line that turns up on both sides of the debates around Irish: it’s the way it’s taught.

This handy little line is used by those who think Gaeilge could be taught in new and better ways, and those who wouldn’t miss it.

I........

© TheJournal