Isle of Man News - POSTED Tue 24-05-2011

Manx language revived in schools with over 1,000 pupils now learning

by Tessa Hawley

Manx language revived in schools with over 1,000 pupils now learning

THE Manx language has seen a revival in schools across the Isle of Man thanks to more opportunities for young people who wish to learn the native language.


More than 1,000 pupils now learn Manx in primary schools and around 100 are studying it at secondary level.


Pupils can now sit GCSE and A-level exams on the Manx Language and two secondary schools – Ballakermeen and Queen Elizabeth II - have even established the language as a timetabled subject at Key Stage 3.


The two year A-level qualification which has been developed is based on Irish Gaelic exams and will replace the previous modular qualification which was designed for distance learning. This qualification will be more comparable to other language A-levels.


This summer a 13 year old pupil from Ballakermeen High School will sit the AS level exam. The pupil who is in year nine attended the Manx language primary school Bunscoill Ghaelgagh in St Johns until the age of 11.


They will sit the exam alongside a number of adult learners including an 18 year old student from Ramsey Grammar School who will sit the A2 part of the qualification.


Also this summer a number of ex Bunscoill Ghaelgagh pupils, who are now 11 and 12 and in year seven, will sit the Teisht Chadjin Ghaelgagh – the equivalent of a GCSE and based on the GCSE French qualification.


This exam will also be taken by older students from secondary schools and the Isle of Man College who have been taught by Dr Brian Stowell.


Dr Stowell was the Island's first Manx language officer and led a team of three in teaching Manx to a small number of primary and secondary school pupils in 1992.


The teaching of Manx in schools is led by the Department of Education and Children's Manx Language Unit (MLU) and is now headed by Rosemary Derbyshire and based at Unnid Ghaelgagh in Derby Road, Peel.


Rosemary said: "The Manx Language Unit, which now has the equivalent of 4.5 teachers, works with pupils from Key Stage 2 right through to Key Stage 5 and works in 25 primary schools and all five secondary schools.


"We now have more part time teachers which gives us flexibility over timetabling. Six primary schools now have their own Manx specialists – existing classroom teachers who have been trained to teach Manx to children in year's four to six.


"Our teachers are constantly creating new materials and there are two textbooks in the pipeline at secondary level and a revised version of the traditional Key Stage 2 primary course Bun Noa in use this year.


"There will soon be a Manx wiki as part of the Department of Education and Children's wiki – – which means that our materials will be available to a much greater audience of teachers and learners."


Paul Craine, co-ordinating adviser for 11-19 Education, said: "I think that the progress being made provides a remarkable testimony to the hard work of the MLU.


"This peripatetic team leads the learning of pupils aged from seven to adult all over the Island but there are no textbooks available for them to rely on.


"Their resources are nearly all written by team members. They are currently creating textbooks and have even written their own GCSE and A-level specifications.


"The quality of their work has been recognised elsewhere and some of the materials they have produced have been translated into Jerriais and used with children in Jersey."


What do you think? Do you think it is important for children to learn the Manx language? Let us know by leaving a comment below:


Photo caption: Peripatetic Manx language teacher Rob Teare with year nine students at Queen Elizabeth II High School who are enthusiastically learning Manx. From left: Peter Daniels, 14, Michael Kaighin, 14, Rhiannon Leece, 13, Sammie Caughey, 14, Clare Pickering, 13, and Beth Kinley, 14

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