Last week, I reviewed CDGA’s software Reading Tracks 1. I thought that the content was strong but graphically, it needed a lot of work. I was expecting something similar, therefore, when I had a look at eGaeilge 1, an educational program to help support consolidating Gaeilge in classes.
The makers of eGaeilge have aimed the program at around 2nd to 3rd class level and they claim that the software should be used to consolidate what is already taught in the class. Unlike Reading Tracks, there is a comprehensive Teacher Guide explaining everything. As a non-fluent Irish-speaker, I was happy to see instructions in English but I feel that given it is an Irish language product, the whole thing should have been in Irish too. The company also mistakenly mixed up the strands of the curriculum with the themes of the curriculum. Anyway, all themes are covered and there is also a spelling section, which aims to teach Irish spellings through phonics.
The whole program consists of 64 activities, including multiple choice games, anagrams, crosswords and wordsearches. All the activities are solid enough but graphically they are very basic. The audio is very good in the games and is clear and child-friendly. If an activity is correctly completed, the user is rewarded with a fun game. The positives, like in Reading Tracks 1, are the content of the activities are reasonably good and engaging. However, there are a number of problems. The biggest one of all is that children using this software are given instructions through English. This is a big no no when teaching a language. The developers need to make sure that everything in the program is available through Irish. Another more minor issue is in the Litriú section where spellings are tested. The first spelling I was asked to type in was “rí” which means king in Irish. Tech-savvy people with Irish keyboards know how to create fadas. However, there were no instructions for the many teachers and pupils who don’t know this. Typing in “ri” gives an error. I would feel that a good designer would have programmed that if the user typed in the word “ri” instead of “rí”, the program could let the user know that they were almost correct and what to do to insert a fada. A final (and probably more minor) problem is that in Ireland, we have different dialects. An Ulster pupil is not going to understand a lot of what’s said in this.
Overall, eGaeilge needs more work. Graphically, it needs to look much more professional. It also needs to be completely translated into Irish. It also needs to take into account the dialects in Irish. Creating Irish language software is difficult. There’s only a tiny market so there’s little return on investment. No one has really succeeded in creating a really good piece of software to support Gaeilge in the Irish curriculum and, unfortunately, this is no exception.
Last Update: August 22, 2017