Reawakening the Irish Language through the Irish Education System: Challenges and Priorities


T.J. Ó CEALLAIGH, Áine Ní DHONNABHÁIN


Abstract

As a language, Irish is unique to Ireland and is, therefore, of crucial importance to the identity of the Irish people, to Irish culture and to world heritage. The Irish language however has had a turbulent and traumatic history and has endured a complex and varied relationship with the Irish people. Since the foundation of the Irish Free State, the education system has been targeted as an agency and model for Irish language planning, education and language revitalisation and has had a critical role in generating linguistic ability in the Irish language. This paper reviews the complex and controversial relationship between the Irish language, the State and the education system from an historical perspective. Some key acts of recent legislation and government initiatives, which impact on the status of the Irish language are considered and barriers and challenges to progress in the education system are outlined. The paper concludes with a discussion on significant positive factors which may revolutionise and reawaken the Irish language through our education system.


Keywords

The Irish language, The Irish Education System, Primary education, Post primary education, Immersion education, Identity, Culture.

Paper Details

Paper Details
Topic Irish Education
Pages 179 - 198
Issue IEJEE, Volume 8, Issue 2, Special Issue: Contemporary Irish Education
Read (times) 805
Downloaded (times) 591

Author(s) Details

T.J. Ó CEALLAIGH

University of Limerick, Ireland


Áine Ní DHONNABHÁIN

University College Cork, Ireland


References

Akenson, D.H. (1973). The United States and Ireland. London: Oxford University Press.

Baker, C. (2001). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism (3rd ed.). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Limited.

Bruner, J. (1986). Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bunreacht na hÉireann/Constitution of Ireland (1937). Dublin: Stationery Office.

Central Statistics Office (2011). 2011 Census of Ireland. Accessed 05 June 2014 at http://www.cso.ie/census/.

Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education. (2006). Síolta: The national quality framework for early childhood education. Accessed on 15 May 2014 at www.siolta.ie

Cloud, N., Genesee, F. and Hamayan, E. (2000). Dual language instruction: A handbook for enriched education. Boston: Heinle and Heinle.

Coolahan, J. (1981). Irish education –History and structure. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration.

Corson, D. (1995). Language, minority education and gender: Linking social justice and power. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Cronin, M. (2005). An Ghaeilge san aois nua. Baile Átha Cliath: Cois Life Tta.

Cronin, M. & Adair, D. (2002). The wearing of the green: A history of St. Patrick’s day. London; New York: Routledge.

Cronin, M. & Ó Cuilleanáin, C. (Eds.). (2003). The languages of Ireland. Dublin: Four Courts Press.

Department of Education and Science. (1960). Circular letter 0011/1960. The Teaching of Irish. Dublin: Government of Ireland.

Department of Education and Science. (1994). Circular letter M10/94. Revision of Rule 46 of the “Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools” in relation to exemption from Irish. Dublin: Government of Ireland.

Department of Education and Science. (1996). Circular letter 12/96. Revision of Circular of 18/79 on Exemption from the Study of Irish. Dublin: Government of Ireland.

Department of Education and Science. (1999). Primary school curriculum: Introduction. Dublin: Stationary Office.

Department of Education and Skills. (2005). DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools): An Action Plan for Educational Inclusion. Dublin: New Oceans.

Department of Education and Skills. (2005). Beginning to Teach: Newly Qualified Teachers in Primary Schools. Dublin: Government Publications.

Department of Education and Science. (2007). Circular letter 0042/2007. Changes to the Proportion of Marks for Oral Irish in the Certificate Examinations. Dublin: Government of Ireland.

Department of Education and Skills. (2007). Irish in the Primary School. Dublin: Government Publications.

Department of Education and Skills. (2015). Review of Education in the Gaeltacht:Review of National Literature. Dublin: Department of Education an Skills.

Department of Education and Skills (2015). Key Statistics on the Department’s Customers Accessed on 22 June 2015 at http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Key-Statistics/

Department of Education and Skills (2015). Policy Proposal for Educational Provision in Gaeltacht Areas. Accessed on 03 August 2015 at http://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Events/Gaeltacht-Education-Policy-Proposals/Gaeltacht-Education-Policy-Proposals.html.

Edwards, J. (2009). Language and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ellis, R. and Shintani, N. (2014). Exploring language pedagogy through second language acquisition research. London: Routledge.

European Commission. (2012). Europeans and their languages. Special Eurobarometer 386. Accessed 15 June 2014 at http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_386_en.pdf

Fortune, T.W. (2011). Struggling Learners and the Language Immersion Classroom. In D.J. Tedick, D. Christian and T.W. Fortune (Eds.). Immersion Education: Practices, Policies, Possibilities (pp. 251-270). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters, Ltd.

French, G. (2007). Children’s Early Learning and Development – A Background Paper. Dublin: National Council for Curriculim and Assessment.

Genesee, F. and Lindholm-Leary, K. (2013). Two case studies of content-based language education. Journal of Immersion and Content-based Language Education. 1, (1), 3-33.

Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Government of Ireland. (1998). Education Act. Accessed 06 June 2015 at http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1998/en/act/pub/0051/.

Government of Ireland. (1999). Primary school curriculum: Gaeilge. Dublin: Stationery Office.

Government of Ireland. (2003). Official Languages Act. Accessed 06 June 2015 at http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2003/en/act/pub/0032/

Government of Ireland. (2006). Statement on the Irish Language 2006. Dublin: Stationery Office.

Government of Ireland. (2007). The National Development Plan 2007-2013, Transforming Ireland. Dublin: Government Publications.

Government of Ireland, (2010). The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030. Accessed 06 June 2015 at http://www.ahg.gov.ie/en/20YearStrategyfortheIrishLanguage/Publications.

Government of Ireland. (2012). The Gaeltacht Act. Accessed 06 June 2015 at http://www.ahg.gov.ie/en/20-YearStrategyfortheIrishLanguage2010-2030/GaeltachtAct2012/

Harley, B. (1992). Patterns of second language development in French immersion. Journal of French Language Studies, 2, (2), 159-183.

Harris, J. (1984). Spoken Irish in primary schools. Dublin: Institiúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann.

Harris, J. (1988). Spoken Irish in the primary school system. The International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 70, 69-87.

Harris, J. (1991). The Contribution of Primary Schools to the Maintenance of Irish. In S. Kroon and Jaspaert, K. (Eds.). Ethnic Minority Languages and Education. Amsterdam: Swets and Zeitlinger.

Harris, J. (1997). Speaking Proficiency in Irish in Primary School Children: Educational and Sociolinguistic Factors. In W. Wolck and A. De Houwer (Eds.). Plurilingualism XVIII: Recent Studies in Contact Linguistics. Brussels: Research Centre on Multilingualism.

Harris, J. (2007). Bilingual education and bilingualism in Ireland North and South. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 10, (4), 359-368.

Harris, J., and Murtagh, L. (1987). Irish and English in Gaeltacht primary schools. In G. Mac Eoin, A. Ahlqvist, and D. Ó hAodha (Eds.). Third International Conference on Minority Languages: Celtic Papers. Multilingual Matters, 32, 104-124. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Harris, J. and Murtagh, L. (1988). National assessment of Irish language speaking and listening skills in primary school children: Research issues in the evaluation of school-based heritage-language programmes. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 1, (2), 85-130.

Harris, J. and Murtagh, L. (1999). Teaching and learning Irish in primary schools. Dublin: Institiúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann.

Harris, J., Forde, P., Archer, P., Nic Fhearaile, S., and O’ Gorman, M. (2006). Irish in primary schools – Long term national trends in achievement. Dublin: Government Publications.

Harris, J. and Ó Duibhir, P. (2011). Effective language teaching: A synthesis of research. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Hickey, T. (1999). Luathoideachas trí Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht. Galway:Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Hickey, T. (1997). Early immersion education in Ireland: Na Naíonraí. Dublin: Institiúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann.

Hickey, R. (2009). Language use and attitudes in Ireland: A preliminary evaluation of survey results. In B. Ó Catháin (Ed.). Sochtheangeolaíocht na Gaeilge, Léachtaí Cholm Cille, 39, 62-89.

Hickey, T. & de Mejía, A. M. (2014). Immersion education in the early years: A special issue’ In International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. Vol. 17, No. 2, 131–143. Routledge.

Howard, E. R. and Sugarman, J. (2007). Realizing the vision of two-way immersion: Fostering effective programs and classrooms. Washington, DC and McHenry, IL: Center for Applied Linguistics and Delta Systems, Co.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2005). Full catastrophe living. New York: Random House.

Kelly, A. (2002). Compulsory Irish: Language and education in Ireland 1870s-1970s. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.

Mac Donnacha, S., Ní Chualáin, F., Ní Shéaghdha, A. and Ní Mhainín, T. (2005). Staid reatha na scoileanna Gaeltachta 2004. Baile Átha Cliath: An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta.

Mac Mathúna, L., Mac Murchaidh, C. & Nic Eoin, M. (2000). (Eds.). Teanga, pobal agus réigiún: Aistí ar chultúr na Gaeltachta inniu. Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim.

Mac Murchaidh, C. (Ed.). (2004). Who needs Irish?: Reflections on the importance of the Irish language. Dublin: Veritas.

MacNamara, J. (1966). Bilingualism and primary education: A study of Irish experience. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

McCloskey, J. (2001). Guthanna in éag: An mairfidh an Ghaeilge beo? /Voices silenced: Has Irish a future? Baile Átha Cliath: Cois Life.

McCloskey, J. (2008). Irish as a World Language. In. B. Ó Conchubhair (Ed.). Why Irish?: Irish Language and Literature in Academia. Gaillimh: Arlen House, pgs. 71-90.

Moore, C. (2012). The GAA v Douglas Hyde: The removal of Ireland’s first president as GAA patron. Cork: The Collins Press.

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, (2008). National Curriculum Review, Phase 2 – Research Report No. 7. Accessed 01 June 2014 at http://www.ncca.ie/en/ Publications/Reports/Primary_Curriculum_Review,_Phase_2_Final_report_with_recommendations.pdf

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, (2009). Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. Accessed on 09 May 2014 at www.aistear.ie

Nettle, D. and Romaine, S. (2000). Vanishing voices: The extinction of the world’s languages. Oxford: Open University Press.

Nic Cionnaith, P. (2008). Léargas ar Dhearcadh agus Tuairimí i dtaobh an Chórais Oideachais Gaeltachta ag Tuismitheoirí Gaeltachta atá ag tógaint a gcuid Páistí le Gaeilge. M.Oid. NUIG. Available at www.cogg.ie [Accessed on: 10 November 2012]

Nic Eoin, M. (2004). ‘Idir Dhá Theanga’. In. C. Mac Murchaidh (Ed.). Who Needs Irish?: Reflections on the importance of the Irish language. Dublin: Veritas, pgs. 123-139.

Nic Eoin, M. (2011). Cultúr na Gaeilge nó Pobal na Gaeilge? The Irish Language and Identity from Douglas Hyde to Des Bishop. In. P. Ó Duibhir, R. McDaid & O’ Shea, A. (Eds.). All Changed? Culture and Identity in Contemporary Ireland/Cultúr agus Féiniúlacht in Éirinn an lae inniu. Dublin: Duras Press, pgs. 105-144.

Nic Pháidín, C. & Ó Cearnaigh, S. (Eds.). (2008). A new view of the Irish language. Dublin: Cois Life.

Ní Dhomhnaill, N. (1991). Feis. Maigh Nuad: An Sagart.

Ní Dhomhnaill, N. [transl. Paul Mundoon] (2007). Pharaoh’s Daughter. Loughcrew, Co. Meath: Gallery Press.

Ní Fhearghusa, J. (1998). Gaelscoileanna. Stair na hEagraíochta. 1973-1988. Unpublished M.Ed. Thesis. U.C.D.

Ní Mhaoláin, N. (2005). Ár bpolasaí Gaeilge: Polasaí na Gaeilge do ghaelscoileanna. Dublin: Gaelscoileanna.

Ní Shéaghdha, A. (2010). Taighde ar dhea-chleachtais bhunscoile i dtaca le saibhriú/sealbhú agus sóisialú teanga do dhaltaí arbh í an Ghaeilge a gcéad teanga. Dublin: An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta.

Ó Buachalla, S. (1988). Education policy in twentieth century Ireland. Dublin: Wolfhound Press.

Ó Duibhir, P. (2009). The Spoken Irish of Sixth Class Pupils in Irish Immersion Schools. Unpublished PhD in Applied Linguistics, Dublin, Trinity College.

Ó Duibhir, P., McDaid, R. & O’ Shea, A. (Eds.). (2011). All Changed? Culture and Identity in Contemporary Ireland/Cultúr agus Féiniúlacht in Éirinn an lae inniu. Dublin: Duras Press.

Ó Fiannachta, P. (1974). Stair na Gaeilge ó Thús. Corcaigh: Mercier Press.

Ó Flatharta, P. (2007). A structure for education in the Gaeltacht:Summary. Dublin: An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta.

Ó Giollagáin, C., Mac Donnacha, S., Ní Chualáin, F., Ní Shéaghdha, A. & O’ Brien, M. (2007). Comprehensive linguistic study of the use of Irish in the Gaeltacht: Principal findings and recommendations. Dublin: Brunswick Press.

Ó Giollagáin, C. & Charlton, M. (2015). The update to the comprehensive linguistic study on the usage of Irish in the Gaeltacht: 2006-2011. Na Forbacha, Galway: Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Ó hAiniféin, D. (2008). An tumoideachas in Éirinn/Immersion education in Ireland. Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim agus Conradh na Gaeilge.

Ó hUallacháin, C. (1994). The Irish and Irish – A sociolinguistic analysis of the relationship between a people and their language. Dublin: Irish Franciscan Provincial Office.

Ó hUiginn, R. (2008). The Irish Language. In C. Nic Pháidín and S. Ó Cearnaigh (Eds.). A New View of the Irish Language (pp. 1-10). Dublin: Cois Life.

Ó Laoire, L. (2004). Níl sí Doiligh a Iompar/No Load to Carry: A Personal Response to the Current Situation of Irish. In. C. Mac Murchaidh (Ed.). Who Needs Irish?: Reflections on the importance of the Irish language. Dublin: Veritas, pgs. 46-63.

Ó Loinsigh, P. (1975). The Irish Language in the Nineteenth Century. In. Oideas, Vol. 14.

Ó Laoire, M. & Harris, J. (2006). Language and literacy in Irish primary schools: Review of literature. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Ó Riain, S. (1994). Pleanáil teanga in Éirinn (Language planning in Ireland)1919-1985. Dublin: Carbad/Bord na Gaeilge.

Ó Ríordáin, S. (1964). Brosna. Baile Átha Cliath: Sáirséal agus Dill.

Ó Siadhail, M. (1989). Modern Irish: Grammatical structure and dialectal variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ó Tuama, S. (1995). Repossessions: Selected essays on the Irish literary heritage. Cork: Cork University Press.

Ó Tuathaigh, G. (2008). The State and the Irish Language: An Historical Perspective. In C. Nic Pháidín and S. Ó Cearnaigh (Eds.). A New View of the Irish Language (pp. 26-42). Dublin: Cois Life.

Péterváry, T, Ó Curnáin, B., Ó Giollagáin, C. agus Sheahan, J. (2014). Iniúchadh ar an gcumas dátheangach: An sealbhú teanga i measc ghlúin óg na Gaeltachta. Dublin: An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta.

Royal Commission of Inquiry into Primary Education (Ireland), Vol. III, Minutes of Evidence, (6-11), H.C. 1870, pgs. xxviii, pt. iii.

Shiel, G., Gilleece, L., Clerkin, A. & Millar, D. (2010). The 2010 national assessments of English reading and mathematics in Irish-medium schools. Baile Átha Cliath: An Foras Taighde ar Oideachas.

Swain, M., Kinnear, P. and Steinman, L. (2011). Sociocultural theory in second language education: An Introduction through Narratives. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Tedick, D. J. and Fortune, T. W. (2012). Unpacking a ‘third way’ for immersion teacher education and development. Paper presented at the Immersion Conference 2012:Bridging Contexts for a Multilingual World, St. Paul, MN. USA. October 20, 2012.

Titley, A. (2004). How Did We Get Here From There? I C. Mac Murchaidh (Eag.), Who Needs Irish?: Reflections on the Importance of the Irish Language. Baile Átha Cliath: Veritas, lgh. 13-23.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). The collected works of L.S. Vygotsky, Volume 1: The problems of general psychology, including the volume thinking and speech. New York: Plenum Press. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education Vol.8, Issue2, 179-198, 2015

Wall, M. (1969). The Decline of the Irish Language. In. B. Ó Cuív (Ed.). A View of the Irish Language. Dublin: Stationery Office (The Government of Ireland), pgs. 81-90.

Wallace, A. (2015). The mini-revival of the Irish language. The Irish Times. Accessed online on 03 August 2015 at http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/the-mini-revival-of-the-irish-language-1.2186677

Watson, I. (2003). Broadcasting in Irish: Minority language, radio, television and identity. Dublin: Four Courts Press.

Watson, I. (2008). The Irish Language and Identity. In C. Nic Pháidín and S. Ó Cearnaigh (Eds.). A New View of the Irish Language (pp. 66-75). Dublin: Cois Life.

Woodward, K. (Ed.). (1997). Identity and difference. London: Sage Publications in association with The Open University.

www.education.ie, 2015 [Accessed on 29 June 2015].

www.oireachtasdebates.ie, 2015 [Accessed on 29 June 2015]. 11754/13.