Dáil Éireann - Volume 421 - 25 June, 1992

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Junior Certificate Aural Irish Examination.

4. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Education if he will outline the action, if any, he proposes to take in relation to the difficulties encountered by students in County Waterford sitting the new junior certificate aural Irish examination because of the use of the Donegal dialect; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. S. Brennan: Since different dialects are a feature of all spoken lan- [1433] guages, my Department accepted with the recommendation of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment that the syllabus for the aural examination in Irish at the Junior Certificate examination would contain examples from the three main dialects.

In order that candidates would fully understand and interpret the words spoken in a dialect different from the candidate's own, the material on the tape was standardised, simplified and rationalised so as to remove words and expressions which might prove difficult.

I am aware that, notwithstanding this arrangement and the fact that each passage was heard three times, some candidates had difficulty with passages spoken in an unfamiliar dialect. Account will be taken of this in the marking of the relevant papers and in future arrangements related to the aural examinations.

Mr. O'Shea: In one Waterford school it was stated that the average child had no idea of what was being said in the Donegal dialect. Would the Minister not agree that even though he is sympathetic to students it will be difficult to make provision for such cases when marking the papers?

Mr. S. Brennan: On a general note, I would like to discuss this with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment because as the Deputy may know, they recommended that students should be examined in the different dialects because the dialect is a feature of any spoken language. I would like to have my Department discuss this with the NCCA because I can see that students may have great difficulties in dealing with a number of dialects and personally I would prefer if students had to deal with standardised Irish or if they were in a position to select a particular dialect and deal only with that.

I will be conveying my strongly held views on this matter to the NCCA as soon as possible and will ask them to reconsider the matter. In the meantime the marking system will reflect the difficulties students experienced.