Spain remains one of Irish people’s favourite destinations for holidays abroad – in a 2017 survey, 38 percent of adults chose Spain as their holiday destination. In addition, many Irish people live in Spain during our winter months – or all year round.
So, it should come as no surprise that Spanish is increasingly becoming a second language that Irish people need to master to some degree – or at least become familiar with for everyday contexts.
Mariana Jiménez Moreno moved to Ireland in 2010 and, shortly afterwards, she started teaching Corkonians how to speak Spanish!
Today, she delivers beginners and more advanced Spanish classes in Bishopstown Community School, Ballincollig Community School, Ashton Comprehensive School, and Carrigaline Community School.
“After I moved to Ireland, I did teacher training for ELE - a Certificate in Spanish Language Teaching to Foreign People – at the Instituto Cervantes, Dublin,” says Mariana, who hails from Madrid originally.
“A lot of different people come to the classes: from people who are in college to people in their eighties. Some people want a few words of Spanish to use on their holidays, or some want to learn Spanish because a family member has married a person from Spain or Latin American and they want to communicate better with them.
“In some classes, we have a very wide range of ages. I have students who want to train their mind and learn another language. Some people are retired and want to move to Spain (or already have a base in Spain) or want to learn to speak to Spanish-speaking grandchildren.
“Lately, I have realised that there are a couple students in each class who enrol to learn Spanish because they are doing the Camino de Santiago, they have already done it, or they are planning to do it. Or, in the September class, people come to learn Spanish because they have booked a holiday in Spain over Christmas.”
As with any night class, the social benefits are enormous. “In some classes, a lot of the same people come back each year. People become friends and get to know about each other’s lives. Recently, one of the class was in hospital and we sent a best wishes card written in Spanish.”
In terms of lifelong learning, Spanish is ideal in helping people to navigate social situations on holidays. “In the beginners class, we cover the basics, greetings, introductions, then different foods and directions. At the improvers classes, the participants know what they need – maybe going to a hairdresser when living or holidaying in Spain.
“Every class has a cultural element – so, for instance, at Christmas time, we cover what Christmas is like in Spain, compared to what it is like in Ireland.
“And, at the end of the classes, we go to a Spanish restaurant in Cork, so they can use their Spanish in a real setting. Or, in another class, we applied this in class where everybody prepared a tapas dish and explained in Spanish how they did it. Everyone is familiar with tapas!!”
Tena Sheil’s professional life was transformed when she attended night classes in Gorey Community School. Over the next few years, she attained top marks in Accounting and now runs her own training and accountancy business. This is her story …
As the middle child of six, there was no expectation that I would attend third level education after my Leaving Certificate in 1986. I worked in sales, retail and retail management for many enjoyable years. However, it was my move into an administrative role, including finance in 2001, that rekindled my interest in getting a qualification.
An ISME/FÁS scholarship allowed me to follow the Accounting Technician qualification through Gorey Community School’s Adult Education Department. It was the first and best step that I have ever taken. The course was challenging but attainable, the tutors were knowledgeable and encouraging, and the setting and facilities were perfect for a mature student finding their feet after many years’ absence from the academic scene. The sense of achievement and the boost to my confidence when I was ranked in the top ten ATI results for 2008 was incredible.
My ATI qualification enabled me to join the third year of a four-year Honours Degree at the IPA. In 2010, I graduated with the highest mark in the Accounting stream and the CIMA Award for Excellence in Management Accounting. Then, I sat my professional exams with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in December 2010 and May 2011, achieving the equivalent of a Level 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications.
These qualifications have absolutely transformed the range of opportunities available to me. I now deliver accounting training from the absolute beginner up to the highest professional levels with ACCA and CPA. Coupled with this, I create bespoke training for businesses who wish to maintain their own accounting systems or better understand their financial situation. I coach business owners on attaining their own goals and maintaining an efficient and motivated workforce. With a growing range of private accounting and training clients, my intention is to grow my business and further develop the ways in which I assist businesses to grow and prosper.
Today, I am as passionate and enthusiastic about my future as I have ever been in my life and I put that all down to getting back into education as a mature student, setting achievable goals and ticking them off one by one.
Student turned tutor - how a 10-week Introduction to Psychology night class changed the life of one participantRead Now
‘Adult education completely changed my life’
Deirdre Delaney is a big supporter of adult education – “it completely changed my life”, she says.
At 40, as a single mother, she went back to college, having worked in telecoms in different roles for years. “Whilst my work latterly involved account management and managing a call centre, it was all about people, and I always harboured a desire to study psychology and to go back to college.”
With redundancy on the horizon, she completed a 10-week Introduction to Psychology night class – “I knew then psychology was what I wanted to do”. Another night class in psychology followed and that took her to UCD as a mature student to study, yes, psychology! “Then I did a Certificate in Counselling before completing a post-graduate course in psychotherapy.”
Adult education helped Deirdre to change her career completely – from telecoms to psychotherapy and then tutoring. “I accidentally got into tutoring – I approached the adult education director in The Donahies Community School about delivering an Introduction to Psychology night class. In the meantime, I was also approached by NUI Maynooth to deliver the Certificate in Psychology and that runs in Scoil Mhuire, Clane Community School, Co Kildare.
Deirdre is also involved in an education outreach initiative offered by NUI Maynooth, called Communiversity. It offers a first point of contact for people who would not normally think of university as a place for them. Run in libraries one morning a week, Communiversity has been successfully rolled out in Dublin areas which have been identified as having low participation rates in higher education.
That sense of opening up lifelong learning to everyone is vital to Deirdre. “When I run a class, I tell my own story, because it’s important for people to see that all things are possible. After school, life happens to us, we stop writing essays, and we think we’re past it. We become terrified that we’re not good enough.
“But, as adults, we bring so much to education, we bring our life experience and ability to juggle things. We bring maturity and a focus to what we’re studying and a level of motivation – usually, we study something for our careers or to something we love.
“For me, I was terrified that first semester in UCD. I was in a class with people not much older than my daughter at the time. But once I got through those first Christmas exams, I loved it. I had the best three years of my life!”
Politics has never been more interesting! And, in Malahide Community School, a new night class in politics is being delivered by Michael Keating, former TD, Lord Mayor of Dublin and Minister of State.
This course is of interest generally – but also hugely interesting and relevant to anybody studying or teaching the new Leaving Certificate course, Politics and Society.
Entitled ‘Politics - Solving or Causing Society's Problems?’, the night class is a thought-provoking mind-opening examination of how politics works, who makes the real decisions in society, and how much say you have in the ways in which your life and wellbeing are shaped.
This comprehensive new course - presented over 10 evening sessions - will excite and intrigue all those interested in politics and social issues, hugely relevant given local and global politics. The course comes with a weekly set of free notes and vital references.
Amount the vital questions dealt with are:
People often associate self-defence classes with blocking and hitting and defending. But, not so with night classes in self-defence in The Donahies Community School, Dublin 13; Hartstown/Huntstown Community School, Dublin 15; and Old Bawn Community School, Tallaght, Dublin 24.
These three schools are offering a night class called ‘Self-Defence for All – Without Getting Hurt!’ The courses are open to all fitness levels, males and females of all ages from age 16 upwards. The aim is for students to learn accuracy and timing as opposed to relying on speed and strength.
The classes are delivered by tutors from Conscious Martial Arts, whose tagline is ‘Martial Arts without the muscle’.
We caught up with Karl, the administrator of Conscious Martial Arts, who explained that they believe that people stop going to martial arts and self-defence classes because they don’t want to get hit and hurt. “Our training has nothing to do with sparring,” he said. “We have broken down each of the moves so that people learn through gentle movements. This gets people to physically relax; the more relaxed you get, the better you get.
“Our training is based on correct body alignment and movement as opposed to reliance on muscle strength. It is based on accurate timing as opposed to reliance on speed. We also teach our students to be aware of and use space and distance.”
Action from self-defence courses delivered by totors from Conscious Martial Arts. Courses are available this Autumn Term at The Donahies Community School, Hartstown/Huntstown Community School and Old Bawn Community School.
Best of all, says Karl, is that people don’t have to be big guys or super-fit to learn this method of self-defence. “In one of our night classes, we have guys from their mid-20s to their mid-60s, all in the same class, learning the same moves, and mixing together. They love it!”
The physical relaxation is also beneficial mentally, grounding learners as they go through the moves. “Benefits include improved posture, breathing, walking, carrying – you become more efficient in how you move and that helps to reduce strains and backache.” Ultimately, the training develops fitness, body awareness, personal development as well as confidence.
"Studying Healthcare Support changed my career" - the story of an adult learner at Scoil Mhuire in ClaneRead Now
Many NACED schools offer the QQI Level 5 Healthcare Support Certificate – and it is a minimum requirement for healthcare assistants.
For one night class participant, Natalia Tuminska-Dawid, studying Healthcare Support in Scoil Mhuire, Clane Community School, Co Kildare, has been a huge help to her in her role in a nursing home.
“It totally changed my career, I used to work in retail in Poland and Ireland, so this is totally different, and I love it,” says Natalia, who has lived in Ireland for 12 years.
Working with the elderly
“I have always loved the elderly and helping the elderly, so I really enjoy my work. The course really helped me in my job, it has helped me to understand what an elderly person needs. Before that, I would have understood some of it, but now I have a deeper understanding. I have even seen it in how I help my granny in Poland and, now, when I visit her, I am able to help her in a better way. Now, she’s waiting for me to visit to get expert help!
“All the modules were very helpful and I know that I want to stay working in the nursing home. I’m even thinking about nursing and maybe doing more study. Helping others is what I always wanted to do.
“I also enjoyed the social side of the course – I was doing some of the same modules with friends and I made Irish friends as well. I have so many Irish friends!”
Successful completion of the QQI Level 5 Healthcare Support Certificate provides a recognised qualification necessary for working as a healthcare assistant in a variety of settings, including hospitals, maternity care, day and residential care, community and the home.
It is suitable for those wishing to embark on a career in caring and those already working in the sector who wish to gain a recognised qualification. Successful graduates may progress to related health and social care courses in the Institutes of Technology through the Higher Education Links scheme by CAO application.68255
Patchwork is a traditional needlework craft, still enjoyed throughout the country. Essentially comprising sewing patches or pieces of fabric together, it can be as simple or innovative in design as you are able for. As such, it’s ideal for beginners or people with more experience who want to create something unique.
Deirdre Carroll teaches one of the few Patchwork night classes in the country. Each term at St Colmcille’s Community School, in Knocklyon, Dublin 16, she teaches three classes – on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights – for 10 weeks.
“People come in on the first Monday night and, when I show them what they will produce, their reaction is, ‘Oh, I’ll never be able to make that!’ So, there’s a great sense of satisfaction when they have produced a small quilt or cushion at the end,” says Deirdre, who claims she can help anyone to learn to do patchwork.
“I remember one woman asking me, ‘How does the thread stick to the needle?’ I had to show her the hole in the needle, but she went on to make a quilt!”
Deirdre Carroll, the Patchwork tutor at St Colmcille's Community School, providing guidance to two of her course participants (left)
and an almost complete sampler quilt produced in the beginners' class by Linda Price (right).
The quilts, large or small, or the cushions produced are wonderful keepsakes or gifts. “People can incorporate personal items in the quilt, part of a husband’s shirt or part of a daughter’s First Communion dress, or the line of a poem. In one case, on a hen night, each hen was asked to write a message for the bride on a piece of fabric. Then, my student made the messages into a quilt and gave it to the bride on the morning of her wedding – that’s probably the most unusual quilt we’ve produced.
“You can really turn the quilts into an heirloom, even with a simple label that says, ‘Made with love by Nana’. So, for me, it’s nice to think that the quilts produced will be passed down, as a lot of work goes into them.”
A keepsake quilt made from old baby clothes (left) and a wedding quilt (right) with special messages for the bride from each of her hens, made by Yvonne Coleman for Ruth.
Tutoring this class for about 10 years, Deirdre has seen the age profile change, with many younger women attending the class in the last few years. “There are so many benefits, people come along for the chat and friendship, to share a common interest doing something creative, and enjoy a social outlet. And, outside the class, sewing is a great way to destress.”
Indeed, this has been a lifelong interest for Deirdre herself. “I always liked sewing and used to make dolls’ clothes as a child and my own clothes later on. I moved away from that but always loved to sew so patchwork was my way of connecting to sewing.”
Now, she teaches about 25-30 night class students per term to produce everything from bags and cushions to small wall-hanging quilts and larger quilts. “We keep it
fresh and do new things all the time, we’ve just started contemporary embroidery – I’m led by the class and always looking for new ideas!”
It's not all about the quilts! Patchwork class participants in Knocklyon also make cushions, bags, pictures and a variety of other items.
Many a game has been invented to occupy bored kids – but few have lasted as long as pickleball. If you haven’t heard of it before, pickleball combines many elements of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong. It’s played indoors and outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly lowered tennis net. And it’s played with lights bats (bigger than table-tennis bats) and a plastic ball with circular holes (a wiffle ball).
And, yes, you can learn pickleball in a night class – in Portmarnock Community School!
“Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the US,” says Debbie Brown, the American charged with bringing pickleball to north county Dublin. “The sport is over 50 years old and was started by three dads in Washington state whose kids were bored. In terms of adult education, it’s a great way for people who are trying to stay active, or who used to play tennis or squash and want to keep up a sport. It’s ideal for schools and communities too because almost every sports hall has a badminton court.”
Portmarnock is lucky to have Debbie in its midst! She coaches tennis, padel, squash, and pickleball. A native of California, Debbie is a former college tennis player and a three-time national champion in the over 35 and 40 age groups, winning the silver medal in the World Masters in Portland, Oregon. She has played in World Masters events in Melbourne, Australia, and both Sheffield and Birmingham, England. More recently, she represented Ireland in the Home Internationals and played in the Spanish Open in Madrid in early September.
“The sport is growing here in Ireland and, every week, someone new comes along. The classes run for 15 weeks, but we also have a drop-in option. In fact, we’ve hosted American players who are on vacation here in Ireland and want to get their pickleball fix!
“I’d really love to get people here excited about pickleball! It’s perfect for every age – the racquets and ball are really light, so it’s an ideal starter sport. It involves exercise, flexibility, twisting, bending down to pick up the ball.”
If you want to join a sport that’s increasingly played in countries such as England, Holland, Spain, France, and Belgium, as well as the US, get along to Portmarnock and check out pickleball!
Debbie Brown pictured with her Irish Nationals competition mixed doubles partner (left). They won the Open mixed doubles division. Pickleball in action (right).
.Autumn Term Adult Education courses are now enrolling across our network, and to celebrate we’re offering a free place on the course of your choice* (some restrictions apply, see T&C’s below. QQI and other certified courses do not apply) via a competition over on our Facebook page.
To enter the competition, please do all of the following:
1. 'Like' AND 'Share' the pinned post on our Facebook page
2. 'Comment' on the post with the school and course you would like to win a free place on
3. Make sure that you 'Like' our page
The full list of schools is on our homepage. You'll find their courses by clicking on the school image.
Pottery at Cabinteely CS, Furniture Restoration at Gorey CS and Guitar at Hartstown CS; so many classes to choose from!
Terms and Conditions
• Closing date for entries is Wed 12th Sept.
• All completed entries will be entered in a draw, and the winner will be selected at random.
• Winner will be notified by Fri 14th Sept.
• The competition only applies to non-certified Adult Education courses at NACED member schools (i.e. schools listed on our homepage)
• QQI, ECDL, NUI Maynooth, and all other certified course are not included.
• Free place must be used in Autumn 2018 or Spring 2019.
• Prize is subject to places available on the course of your choice.
• If the winner has already enrolled on an Autumn 2018 course he/she can choose to (i) have their fee refunded, (ii) be enrolled on an additional Autumn 2018 course or (iii) use their free place for Spring 2019.
• No cash alternative will be offered.
Portmarnock Community School is a co-ed school in north Dublin which opened in 1979. Under principal Eithne Deeney and Adult Education Director Michael McNeive, Adult Education has flourished there, particularly in the last few years.
“Adult education is hugely important for the school to promote lifelong learning in our community,” said Eithne. “And it’s important for the students to see that education doesn’t finish with the Leaving Cert or with college.
“The night classes also show that education is not just academic, that it’s about creativity, sociability, nurturing, and encouraging people to live healthily.”
Whilst Michael has overall responsibility for the promotion of the night classes - both online and in print - the day school emails parents when the print brochure is issued.
“It’s a great way of showcasing the school, both when people see the facilities we have and when they meet teachers who are either tutoring in an area of interest or attending a class.”
Range of classes
For Michael McNeive, the last number of years have seen the number of night classes grow to 31. Most classes take place on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings, with some other sports and exercise classes taking place on other nights. Covering hobbies, leisure, exercise, self-development and languages, the programme has something for all interests. Some of the more popular courses of late have been Pottery, Improvers Bridge and Baking.
“Pottery and Baking have really taken off and it’s great to see students return for a few terms when they get hooked on a new passion. It also has the advantage of allowing the students to take home their finished products. Bridge on a Wednesday afternoon proved really popular as well and helped get some not-so-experienced players into the local bridge scene in a more concrete way”.
With an eye on the local economy, Michael is keen to explore the QQI options in childcare and healthcare support. Indeed, the new Autumn term will see QQI courses in Child Psychology and SNA being offered in conjunction with the College of Progressive Education. “We have a big population here with numerous childcare facilities and with nursing homes set to increase, those are worth exploring.” For now, it’s about expanding his marketing skills, particularly in social media!
Portmarnock Community School's Director of Adult Education, Michael McNieve (left) and Principal, Ethne Deeney (right)
Carina McEvoy is passionate about mental health, children’s in particular. Currently self-publishing a book entitled, ‘Sometimes I worry, how about you?’ – a book to help children manage anxiety, she is also set to deliver night classes in Understanding and Managing Childhood Anxiety in Gorey Community School.
“The night class is to help adults – parents or guardians – to help their children manage their low-level anxiety in the home,” says Carina, a former business and geography teacher who’s looking forward to getting back into the classroom.
Carina will deliver two classes: An Introduction to Understanding Children’s Anxiety explores a child’s development in relation to personality and transitional milestones also. And An Advanced Course to Understanding and Managing Children’s Anxiety includes 17 simple strategies to manage anxiety levels.
Carina firmly believes that childhood anxiety is an epidemic but also believes that empowered and aware parents and guardians can make a huge difference. That’s why her children’s book on managing anxiety – featuring Mo! – also has a support booklet for parents to read alongside the children’s book.
Carina knows what she’s talking about when it comes to anxiety – as a teenager, she went through a maelstrom of depression, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and anxiety.
“When I was a teen, I suffered badly with mental health issues – the internet had just started, and we had none at home. I had no one to talk to, no stories of other people to read. So, I thought I was alone – and going crazy.”
College brought access to the internet where research on self-harm made her realise just how common it was – “I got great relief from knowing that I wasn’t the only one. That knowledge was healing for me.”
Writing therapeutic As a teen, she took up writing to express her emotions and now has a published novel, To Have, Not Hold, to her credit!
“I found writing therapeutic – I wrote poetry and enjoyed getting lost in trying to find words to express my feelings.”
Now, she is keen, through her night classes and her new books, to make parents aware that low-level children’s anxiety can be managed. “Children can have a lot of general anxiety, with no specific cause or anxiety behind it. Between being so busy going from one thing to another – and being constantly stimulated by social media – they have no time to get bored or to manage boredom. That sense of being ‘on’ all the time and getting everything ‘now’ doesn’t help.”
Her hope is that her night classes in Gorey Community School will help.
Community schools still have a vital role to play in adult education and lifelong learning. That’s according to Dr Leo Casey, Director of the Centre for Research and Innovation in Learning and Teaching in the National College of Ireland.
“Recent strategy documents are based on the premise that the sole purpose of education and adult education is to prepare people for employment, through pre-employment skills or upskilling,” he said. “What about lifelong education? What about people who participate in non-work activities, who are active at community level, in micro enterprises or sustainable development.”
Educators – including community schools and adult education directors – should not necessarily follow the labour-market driven and qualifications approach slavishly. “The very name ‘community schools’ indicates a link between the school and society – that the school is a part of its local community.” This closeness to its community allows schools to inhabit the space of lifelong education, whereby the needs of people change from practical career or parenting concerns to larger societal issues as they get older.
Community schools are satisfying the need for lifelong learning. “That might not be in vogue, but it’s not wrong,” he said, adding that lifelong learning – in topics such as psychology, social justice, mentoring – contribute towards democracy by facilitating people to engage in active discourse and to make complex decisions about their lives and society. “Is it possible to have a functioning democracy without open, informed and truthful discourse among the citizenship? Perhaps we are so busy ‘training’ people to develop instrumental, economically viable skills that we overlook the ‘skills of democratic participation’ such as reasoning and critical literacy.”
And, those values are in danger of being forsaken. “I’m very much in favour of qualifications but not an over-engineered approach to delivery and outcomes – that’s a flawed approach.”
Instead, it would be better if we regard “learning as part of life itself, it is something that we continue to do so long as we live. Learning may be regarded as a gift we give to our future selves and, so long as we have a future, we will need to learn.”
This article originally appeared in the NACED May 2016 newsletter
Collaboration Counts: Wexford and Dublin schools join forces to enhance the adult education experienceRead Now
Schools within the NACED organisation often co-operate on classes. In fact, in April 2018, St Colmcille’s Community School in Dublin’s Knocklyon and Gorey Community School, Co. Wexford collaborated on a Saturday workshop in metalcraft.
Twelve men from the Metalcraft class in St Colmcille’s travelled to Gorey to receive instruction in traditional ironcraft from master blacksmith Finin Liam Christie. Finin runs a very popular night class in metalcraft in the north Wexford school. Based in Coolgreaney, Co Wexford, he is passionate about traditional steel and ironworks - nothing is welded. He makes traditional gates, railings, tools, swords, axes, commissioned sculptures, bottle openers, hammers and train sets.
For the Dublin class, this was a great opportunity to learn from an internationally renowned craftsman, who sells to Australia, Brazil, the UK, the US, Germany and further afield - all from his Facebook page!
The class proved a great hit and is an example of how schools can collaborate with each other – to the benefit of class participants!
Pictures above (left to right) Blacksmith Finin Liam Christie passing on his skills to the Metalcraft class from St Colmcille’s Community School in the Gorey Community School workshop where Finin is a tutor; Just one of the pieces produced at the workshop; No class is complete without a cup of tea!