Immersion Ed. & Research
Naíonraí and Irish-medium schools follow the immersion-education model, a system which helps children/pupils become fluent in the language naturally by giving them daily experience of an Irish-speaking environment. Irish is the main language of communication in naíonraí and Irish-medium schools and children/pupils go on to become fluent in English and Irish through the immersion-education system. Irish-medium schools provide the full curriculum and are State-funded under the same conditions as schools where the teaching is done through English. Irish-medium immersion education, from preschool to third level, has become the preferred choice of a growing number of parents in Ireland over the past number of years.
Plenty of research has been published on the effectiveness of the model, you’ll find an archive of research material here.
In 2006 the then-Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, announced that Irish-medium schools would no longer be allowed to practice early-immersion education, despite long-established practices and every evidence confirming that it is the most effective method of language acquisition that exists in the immersion-education system. On behalf of the Irish-medium schools and their communities, Gaelscoileanna Teo. undertook a nationwide campaign protesting this policy. Concurrently, two schools under An Foras Pátrúnachta undertook legal proceedings against it. As a result of an effective campaign, the commitment of the schools, and those who took legal measures, we succeeded in overturning this decision. This was a great achievement that demonstrated the effectiveness of collective action. As a result of this, the Department of Education & Skills now recognises early-immersion education to be an effective and successful system. Schools are now permitted to postpone formal English-language instruction until the end of term 1 of senior infants. International and national research recommends a longer period than this to reap the full benefits of the system. Gaelscoileanna Teo. recognises and supports schools who practice a longer immersion period. The organisation recognises the need for practical guidance from the Department for schools on getting the greatest benefit from the early-immersion system for the benefit of the children.