National Strategy and Language Supports needed to support Teachers in the Immersion Education System
“The findings of recently-published research regarding the views, experience, and opinions of subject teachers in Gaelcholáistí confirm our understanding that huge challenges exist around lack of fluency and lack of confidence among teachers who teach subjects through Irish in the all-Irish education system, challenges which affect teaching practice in the classroom,” according to Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, CEO of Gaeloideachas.
It is widely acknowledged that there is a crisis in the sector of all-Irish and Gaeltacht education in respect of the availability and ability of teachers to work effectively through the medium of Irish, a crisis which is significantly worse at post-primary level, where teachers are required for a wide range of subjects.
The research of Ó Ceallaigh and Ní Chathasaigh identifies challenges in the following areas:
- Language ability of subject teachers
- Teaching and learning through Irish
- Correction of students’ accuracy in Irish
- The specific challenges of subject-based classrooms in Gaelcholáistí
- Supportive infrastructure.
Research participants indicated that they are very concerned about the range and accuracy of their Irish both within and outside the classroom, and felt their own Irish was inaccurate, rusty, and inadequate.
The recommendations of Gaeloideachas include the following:
- That targets are identified regarding language ability of teachers, and that a qualification in the language is a requirement for those who wish to be employed in the immersion education system
- That an expected standard of Irish is established and that teachers’ standard of Irish is assessed at entry to and completion of their training programmes
- That a mechanism is put in place to assess the standard of Irish of teachers during their teaching career
- That common assessment mechanisms are established to ensure a consistent standard of Irish
- That language supports are made available to teacher trainees, including intensive courses, to ensure that this standard is achieved by the time they begin teaching in the immersion education system
- That additional courses and options for both initial training and continuing professional development are provided for the system through the medium of Irish
- That a mentoring system or network be established to support teachers, particularly those who are less confident or starting out in their teaching careers
- That the allowance for teachers in the all-Irish and Gaeltacht system is restored and linked to a TEG qualification at an identified level to encourage and incentivise teachers.
It is clear that a national strategy is needed to support immersion education and to support teachers who work within the all-Irish and Gaeltacht system. Gaeloideachas hopes that the importance of the above recommendations and the recommendations of the research is recognised, and that the existing challenges and those before us will be urgently addressed.
Notes for the editor
Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, CEO | firstname.lastname@example.org
Seán Ó hArgáin, President | email@example.com
Anna Ní Chartúir, Public Relations Officer | firstname.lastname@example.org