GAELTACHT MINISTER Dinny McGinley has helped to launch the Irish Language Summer Study Awards, enabling US citizens, currently studying the Irish language in the United States, to participate in Irish language courses in the Gaeltacht in Ireland this Summer.
The Awards are supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht Affairs and the National Lottery.
US citizens living in the US who are currently enrolled in Irish language courses in the US and have completed at least one semester of tuition are eligible to apply.
Successful candidates will receive a monetary award (maximum value €5,000) to cover travel, tuition, accommodation and meal costs to participate in the course of their choice.
The deadline for applicants is 29th April 2011. For further information see www.fulbright.ie.
In addition, the Fulbright Commission, together with the University of Notre Dame, jointly announced the launch of ‘Inter-changes: Conference on Learning and Teaching the Irish Language’.
This conference will bring together those teaching the Irish language in the US to explore current practice, future possibilities and a report on the current state of play regarding Irish language learning in the US.
Commenting on the awards, the Minister of State with responsibility for the Irish language, Dinny McGinley T.D. said: “I am delighted that my Department is providing funding to the Fulbright Commission to support this important work programme.
“The number of universities worldwide that are providing Irish language courses, with funding from my Department, is a clear indicator, not only of academic interest in Irish as one of the world’s oldest vernacular languages, but also of increased opportunities for Irish speakers globally.
“The Irish language is a hugely valuable resource, particularly with regard to the development of cultural tourism in Ireland. Living in a Gaeltacht area myself, I am always delighted to see at first hand students from all over the world coming to the Gaeltacht to continue their studies and speaking our native language.
“Accordingly, I warmly welcome the announcement of these awards.”
Speaking about the awards, Ms Colleen Dube, Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission said: “Our recent research has identified 80 institutions teaching Irish in the United States. Since 2006 the Fulbright Commission has been actively involved in promoting the Irish language in the US through our FLTA programme where we send recently qualified teachers and fluent Irish speakers to act as Teaching Assistants in US universities.
“Although many US students claim Irish heritage as the reason for studying Irish, there are plenty of others who are interested simply because they are interested in Ireland or want to study an ancient language.
“The Irish Language Study Awards will afford US students with a love of the language, who may not have the chance otherwise, the opportunity to be immersed in the Irish language and culture. We would hope successful candidates would then share their experience with others on their return to the US.”
Ms Colleen Dube continued:“The conference is open to everyone involved in teaching Irish in the US and is being held with a view to informing future provision and promotion of the Irish language at third level as identified in the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language.
“Findings of a report we commissioned into Irish Language Teaching & Learning in the US, being undertaken by the Language Centre at National University of Ireland Maynooth, will be officially presented at the conference. “The event will explore current practice and future possibilities in terms of Irish language teaching, testing, resources and collaborations,” Ms. Dube concluded.