IRELAND-CANADA: Surge in Irish language courses

To meet a big rise in Irish language courses in Canadian universities, the Irish government has established an awards programme to fund Irish language teachers and professors so they can spend time in Canadian universities while Canadian students will be able to visit Ireland to attend courses in the Irish language.

The Ireland Canada University Foundation announced the new programme of exchange scholarships in the Irish language for the coming academic year, with funding from Ireland's National Lottery and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The foundation is providing Irish language teaching assistantships and visiting professorships tenable at six Canadian universities that offer substantive courses in the Irish language.

The Irish Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív TD said: "I am delighted that my department will be funding this new programme. Ireland and Canada have strong historical links, particularly since the Great Famine, and this programme will help to make the academic community in Canada more aware of the Irish language and its rich heritage as one of the oldest vernacular languages in Europe.

"It will place the language on a par with other European languages being taught abroad. I strongly encourage graduates with Irish to apply for these exchange scholarships. This is an excellent opportunity to travel, to gain valuable teaching practice, to experience living in Canada and to use their Irish in a new and exciting environment."

Awards will also be offered for Canadian university students to attend Irish language courses for credit in the Gaeltacht environment. Applications for the teaching assistantships close 3 April and details and application form are on the website