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New head of Manx language teaching appointed 9 December 2011

MANX language education in the Island will have a new head from January.

Rob Teare will succeed Rosemary Derbyshire as the Department of Education and Children’s Manx Language Officer when Mrs Derbyshire retires at Christmas after seven years in the post. Rob Teare

Mr Teare will head the Manx Language Unit (MLU), based at Unnid Ghaelgagh in Derby Road, Peel, and lead a team of peripatetic teachers who work with pupils from Key Stage 2 right through to Key Stage 5.

Developments in the teaching of Manx in schools mean there are now far greater opportunities for young people wishing to learn the Island’s native language than there were when the subject was re-established in schools in 1992.

A new, two-year, A level qualification has been developed, based on Irish Gaelic exams and replacing the previous, modular qualification, which was designed for distance learning. The qualification is now directly comparable to other language A levels, important when it comes to university entry.

The MLU is responsible for producing all the necessary resources for teaching the language at all levels, including A level, as well as providing teachers for all of the Island’s schools.

The team is multi-lingual and includes fluent speakers of French, Welsh, Italian, German, Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Japanese whose common passion is Manx.

Mr Teare (pictured) said:

‘The MLU tries to ensure that every child on the Island who wants to learn Manx has the opportunity. I believe that every local child should be offered the chance to learn our language.
‘There will always be people who question the value of learning Manx and I suppose I would have been in that camp myself once upon a time. I was very fortunate to meet people like Leslie Quirk and Brian Stowell, who introduced me to the language and its fascinating and articulate way of describing the world that I otherwise never would have guessed existed.
‘For me, as for many others, Manx has not only added another dimension to life on the Island, but has also been a springboard to wider language learning, which was a major advantage for me when working overseas.’

A fluent Manx speaker, Mr Teare has been a teacher for 22 years and has taught students aged from seven to 70. In addition to BA and MA degrees, he holds a Post Graduate Diploma of Education in Gaelic from Strathclyde University.

After a lengthy spell lecturing at a university in Japan, he returned to his native Island to join the staff of the MLU in 2005. He has taught timetabled and extra-curricular lessons at 17 of the Island’s 35 primary schools and all its secondary schools and has offered a Manx Gaelic dimension to other aspects of school life, running sport, music and cultural activities.

Mr Teare – also known as Bob – is a member of Yn Çheshaght Ghaelgagh (the Manx Language Society) and Coonseil ny Gaelgey (the regulatory body responsible for official translations into Manx). He teaches evening classes voluntarily for Caarjyn ny Gaelgey, acts as a volunteer coach for Club Spoyrt (the Manx Language Sports Club), contributes to the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee, publishes BlognyGaelgey (a Manx Language Blog), and is a member of the Scottish Gaelic Learners’ Association and the North American Association of Celtic Language Teachers.

He has published two academic papers on Manx and two collections of short stories in Manx (translated from Japanese and Irish).

Paul Craine, Co-ordinating Adviser for 11-19 Education, welcomed Mr Teare to the role, saying:

‘When Rob joined the MLU team, he brought experience of language teaching and a strong knowledge of Manx Gaelic but he was not a qualified teacher. It is a remarkable testament to his language skills that he successfully undertook a PGCE in Scottish Gaelic.
‘In taking on the leadership and management of the MLU, Rob brings a remarkable level of commitment to Manx Gaelic and a determination to see others have opportunities to experience and share his passion for the language. I have no doubt that this small but hugely committed team will continue to flourish under his leadership.’

Mr Craine is keen for the achievements of Rosemary and her team to be recognised. He said:

‘Rosemary’s unassuming leadership belies the progress that has been made in the work of the MLU over the last few years. There have been significant developments in the resources to support learning and developments in relation to the use of IT in the teaching of Manx, culminating this year in the development of wikis. There have been developments, too, in the embedding of Manx specialists in some primary schools, shifting the focus from peripatetic teachers to school-based teachers of Manx.’

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