Seachtain na Gaeilge: Why am I teaching Irish to American university students?
Seachtain na Gaeilge: Speaking Irish in… Washington DC
Méabh Ní Choileáin is pursuing a Fulbright scholarship in Washington DC, one of approximately 400 Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) scholars from around the world currently teaching their native language and studying in the US
...over here, I’ve learnt that Irish is just another language. Like French, German, Spanish or Chinese, it is viewed simply as a means of communication and gateway to another culture. It isn’t weighed down by the same emotional baggage as it is at home, which is something I still find both confusing and refreshing even seven months into the programme.
It’s confusing, when explaining seemingly complex grammatical structures, to see heads nod rather than eyes roll. It’s refreshing to realise I don’t need to wince, as though preparing to rip a plaster off my body, whenever the tuiseal ginideach rears its head.
It took a while before I could embrace this feeling, however, and for the first few weeks, my instinct, whenever I thought the language might be too confusing for my students, was to apologise. I learnt that, despite my love for Irish, I was terribly apologetic about it, and the more I considered this, the more I began to realise I wasn’t the only one.