Monday 24 October 2016

South county Dublin: Yoga and paddleboarding - learn Irish in style outside

At the Irish Language Activity School at DunLaoghaire yesterday were teachers Karl Rice, Seán Greif and Hannah Leonard
At the Irish Language Activity School at DunLaoghaire yesterday were teachers Karl Rice, Seán Greif and Hannah Leonard

A NEW Dun Laoghaire 'gaeltacht experience' is making a splash in the seaside town.

Moontour, which began its first round of summer courses this week, is taking a fresh approach to learning the Irish language on the town's west pier.

Its founder, Sandycove native Sean Greif, came up with the idea after learning languages around the world through outdoor work.

He previously spent time living with tribes in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, where he picked up Portuguese.

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The Irish teacher also learned Spanish after working as a mountain and glacier guide in Patagonia in South America.

"I was amazed that after six months of living in the middle of nowhere and speaking only Portuguese that I was just as fluent as I was in Irish after studying to be an Irish teacher," he said.

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"I realised that through doing outside activities or learning in a fun way that we might be on to something," the entrepreneur told the Herald. "There are a lot of students who might not be suited to classroom learning, including myself.

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"Classroom language is important, but it's also useful to take the language outside of school," he added. Moontour is not your typical gaeltacht experience with classes during the day and ceilis held at night.

"We teach the tenses through yoga, we teach the listening exam through DJ-ing and we teach the written composition through photography," he explained.

"We're trying to include real world elements like confidence development and outdoor skills without separating it from the Irish language."

The school also brings students out in the harbour to try sports such as kayaking and paddle boarding, all of which are taught as gaeilge.

"We're also looking to introduce paddleboard yoga," Mr Greif said.

Despite the focus on fun and interactive learning the school is still very exam-focused.

All courses are tailored to prepare students for State exams, with a particular focus on the oral and aural exams which are now worth half the marks at Leaving Cert level. At the moment Moontour is running courses for first- and second -year students in secondary schools, but there are plans for expansion.

"We want to broaden it out. I'm looking to branch out into adults and other communities who do not have access to Irish education," he revealed.

"We'd like to give people the chance to try something other than the run-of-the-mill conversation classes.


"A lot of parents have already been saying 'We wish there was something for us here', so we are hoping to start an adult evening course starting in July.

"The gaeltacht is not something that we should just associate with the west of Ireland or only with the summer."

"It's something that we should have the facility to do all year round here in Dublin.

"The capital has the highest number of Irish speakers in the country."

On June 15 the second round of courses for secondary school students will begin.

More details can be found on the group's website at www.moontour.ie

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