ISU welcomes Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching assistant Seamus Barra O’ Suilleabhain to teach beginning Irish courses

Idaho State University’s Department of Global Studies and Languages will now offer students a beginning Irish language class this fall semester taught by Seamus Barra O’ Suilleabhain, a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant from Ireland.

“We are fortunate to have this opportunity. The Fulbright award is meant to support and foster international understanding through travel and cultural exchange,” said Sharon Sieber, professor in the Department of Global Studies and Languages and Fulbright Program Adviser. “This is an incredible chance for our students to learn not only the Irish language, but also Irish culture from a native speaker.”

The FLTA program enables young educators to refine their teaching skills by serving primarily as teaching assistants in foreign language classes or in some cases, as primary instructors. FLTA’s spend one year at an accredited post-secondary U.S. educational institution as non-degree students.

Two sections of the new course, Irish 1199-02/03, will be offered this fall. Along with learning the language, students will have the opportunity to learn about Irish and Gaelic culture.

Irish is a Celtic language spoken in Ireland which has the oldest written vernacular literature north of the Alps, and a rich living tradition of folklore and song, Suilleabhain said. The language has attracted a “vibrant new generation of urban and international speakers engaging with it in innovative ways through art, media, technology and activism,” he added.

The course seeks to integrate students into the world and culture of this unique minority language and apply those language skills to their own social environment by learning the fundamentals of the language in everyday usage.

The course will emphasize interaction, games and listening. The course uses scenarios in which the student can apply their obtained vocabulary together in a practical environment.

“With my own region’s history of language loss, population decline and domination by a more powerful linguistic/political hegemony in mind, I am driven to find new channels of potential for minority languages,” he said.

Interested students can register for IRISH 1199-02/03 for one of the two times offered. Classes on Monday and Wednesday are from 6 to 7:50 p.m. in the Business Administration Building, Room 304. Classes are also offered Monday through Thursday from 10 to 10:50 a.m. in the Business Administration Building, Room 313.

“I seek to learn just as much as I have to teach. To my delight, the interest in the Irish language in Idaho, is completely of this spirit… the spirit of exploring the other,” Suilleabhain said.

The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”

“Because of the generous support of International Programs Office Director, Maria Fletcher, we were able to pursue Seamus’ FLTA application this year,” Sieber said. “The application requires coordination from faculty and staff at various levels of administration. Maria also supported and helped organize ISU’s first Fulbright Forum earlier this year. She understands the importance of Fulbright for internationalizing the ISU campus, which has an impact on preparing our students to work in a global environment.”

To learn more about Fulbright at ISU, please see our webpage through the International Programs Office:

For more information on the course please contact Suilleabhain at

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