Recently I launched ‘Labhair Gaeilge Liom’ or ‘Speak Irish with me’, an initiative of SOLAS – An tSeirbhís Oideachais Leanúnaigh agus Scileanna – the Further Education and Training Authority.
‘Speak Irish with me’ is an online Irish language course run by SOLAS eCollege and specifically supports beginners or any learner who has not used Irish since their school days to build their confidence with the spoken language. It has been developed to coincide with the 1916 Commemorations, to acknowledge the importance of the Irish language in the Rising and to encourage the use of the language today.
Our language is such an important part of our cultural identity. A language that is spoken every day is a living language. There are more and more opportunities to use our language in everyday life thanks to a wide range of local and national initiatives and it’s crucial that supports are available to encourage proficiency. As Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, my Department is responsible for championing the promotion of the Irish language across public organisations. I am delighted that SOLAS eCollege has launched ‘Speak Irish with me’ and is helping to support the Irish language.
‘Speak Irish with me’, will run over 12 weeks and technical and tutor support will be available to learners. On completion, learners will be awarded a digital badge. The course is being offered at a discounted cost of €19.16 to coincide with the commemorations and is free to anyone in receipt of social welfare payments. Learners can register at www.ecollege.ie
In operation since the early 2000s, SOLAS eCollege has supported over 90,000 people to upskill and reskill. A 2014 survey of learners showed that 94% of respondents would recommend a SOLAS eCollege online course to others.
SOLAS eCollege learners come from a wide variety of locations, age, educational level and backgrounds. Of the approximately 11,000 learners who availed of online courses in 2015, 53% were male and 47% female. The vast majority were jobseekers who received courses free-of-charge but an increasing number of employed learners are also availing of courses. Employed learners pay a standard fee.