Tuesday 10 May 2016


Irish language speakers have the opportunity to help strengthen the Irish Language in the classroom.

Applications are now open for British Council’s Irish Language Assistant programme, which gives Irish speakers the chance to work in schools across Northern Ireland, giving support to the teaching and learning of Irish.

The scheme aims to revolutionise how students relate to languages by not just teaching basic phrases and words, but teaching Irish folklore, songs, local place names and history.

Successful applicants are then matched to placements offered by schools for one academic year, after which they may re-apply to the programme for a further year, with hours of work ranging from  anything between two and twelve hours a week, depending on availability and school requests.

Clíodhna Nic Bhranair, a 21-year-old student at Queen’s University Belfast, is currently taking part in this year’s scheme, working at Sacred Heart Grammar in Newry.

Speaking about the programme she said: “I’ve really enjoyed the programme so far — it’s been challenging, but also very rewarding. It’s difficult to get students interested in languages these days, but I love when you can spark a real interest.

“I currently work a lot with the Year 1 to 3 pupils and it’s great to see their excitement for Irish building. I’ve taught them old traditional stories such as the Legend of Cú Chulainn as well as the meaning and history of local place names. I think they like that they’re learning not just about the Irish Language, but more about their culture and connecting to where they come from.”

To apply for the programme, you don’t need to have any previous teaching experience or qualifications. Clíodha for example, is currently studying for a Masters in History, and graduated with Irish at undergradate level.

About her future career aspirations, she said: “I think being an Irish Language Assistant helps keep my Irish skills alive, but also gives me the confidence to try new things and push boundaries and really discover what I’m capable of.  Once I’ve completed my Masters I would like to go on to do a PhD, perhaps research into Irish Communications in TV and radio – and this experience has given me the extra skillset to do that.

“It’s been such a good experience and I would recommend it to anyone with a real passion for the language – I only work a couple of hours on a Monday morning, so it easily fits into my studies and general day-to-day life.”

Also speaking about the programme was Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director, British Council Northern Ireland.

He said: “Learning a language gives us the ability to better understand and connect to our own and different cultures.

“The British Council is committed to teaching languages in the classroom through the Language Assistant programme and other opportunities such as through Erasmus+, the EU’s flagship programme for education, training, youth and sport.”

Currently there are over 60 Language Assistants in Northern Ireland through British Council’s Language Assistant programme and they hail from all corners of the globe, including from China, Chile, Mexico and Switzerland.

To apply for the Irish Language Assistant programme, visit https://nireland.britishcouncil.org/programmes/education/irish-language-.... Applications close on Tuesday, May 31, 2016.

Schools can also still apply to host a Language Assistant, by visiting http://www.britishcouncil.org/language-assistants. 

 The Language Assistant programme is supported by the Department of Education Northern Ireland and is just one of a number of educational programmes available through British Council Northern Ireland. For more information visit nireland.britishcouncil.org or follow on twitter: BCouncil_NI or Facebook

Notes to Editor

For further information, please contact:

Claire McAuley T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504 Claire.McAuley@britishcouncil.org Twitter: @BCouncil_NI,  or Facebook (www.facebook.com/britishcouncilnorthernireland)


About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We work in over 100 countries worldwide to build engagement and trust for the UK through the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people. We work in the arts, education, English, science, sport and governance and last year we engaged face to face with 18.4 million people and reached 652 million. We are a non-political organisation which operates at arm’s length from government. Our total turnover in 2009/10 was £705 million, of which our grant-in-aid from the British government was £211 million. For every £1 of government grant we receive, we earn £2.50 from other sources. For more information, please visit: http://nireland.britishcouncil.org, on Facebook – www.facebook.com/britishcouncilnorthernireland  or follow us on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI or Facebook

See also