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Immersion education commences in the Donegal Gaeltacht

August 31, 2011

Three Gaeltacht primary schools in the Donegal Gaeltacht have just commenced the introduction of immersion education in junior enfants this year; Scoil Rann na Feirste, Scoil Dhoire Chonaire and Scoil Chaiseal na gCorr.  Basciallly under this system, the schools will delay the start of English language teaching until the senior enfants.  We congratulate the parents, Boards of Managements and teaching staff of these schools for taking this very positive step for the Irish language.

It is very clear from international and national research on immersion education that not only does this system improve the acquisition of the minority language, in this case Irish, but also that it improves standards in both languages in senior classes.  Therefore, this system is to the benefit of all pupils and is recognised as international best practice for minority language medium schools such as Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht schools.

We thank Eagraíocht na Scoileanna Gaeltachta(Organisation of Gaeltacht Schools) and an Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta(the statutory advisory body for Gaeltacht schools and Gaelscoileanna) for organising a seminar on this topic for the teaching staff of Gaeltacht schools in Gaoth Dobhair earlier this Spring.  They also organised an information session for the Boards of Management and a training course for teachers in Irish language phonetics.  There are seven other primary schools in the Gaeltacht category A area in Donegal.  Some of these schools have yet to make a decision on immersion education but we hope that they will make the same decision as these three schools.

It is of critical importance to us as one of the strongest Gaeltacht communities in Ireland that we are prepared to take positive steps to demonstrate our committment to the conservation and development of the Irish language.  We have to acknowledge that there is a crisis in even the strongest Gaeltacht areas in terms of the lack of usage by young people of the Irish language in their normal everyday social interactions.  The introduction of immersion education in Gaeltacht schools in not the answer to all of these problems but it is definitely a step in the right direction and is to be welcomed.

Ní neart go cur le chéile

Éamonn Mac Niallais
Guth na Gaeltachta

Guth na Gaeltachta is a non-political, cross-party campaign concerned with the Irish language and the Gaeltacht. This community campaign was founded in the Gaeltacht in August 2009. This campaign will focus wholly and completely on Irish language and Gaeltacht issues only.