Indigenous language immersion: The challenge of meeting the needs of L1 and L2 speakers in Irish-medium preschools

Title: Indigenous language immersion: The challenge of meeting the needs of L1 and L2 speakers in Irish-medium preschools
Authors: Hickey, Tina
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Date: 1-Oct-2008
Online since: 2019-03-28T10:30:07Z
Abstract: Over 150 regional and minority languages are spoken in the EU, by up to 50 million speakers (European Commission, 2004:9). In the Republic of Ireland, an officially bilingual state, Irish is "the first official language" and English is also recognised as an official language. Census 2006 showed that, while about 1.66 million people (42% of the population) reported that they were "able to speak Irish", over 60% of these said they "never" speak the language or speak it less often than weekly. Even in officially designated Irish-speaking communities Irish does not appear secure, with only 57% (36,500 persons) there speaking Irish daily. Thus, Irish is in the position of being both an official language and an endangered language. Efforts at maintaining Irish must now also adapt to the context of the recent rise in immigration into Ireland, which has led to one of the highest levels of linguistic diversity, with 158 languages now spoken (McPake et al., 20017). Catering for these needs in a state already trying to maintain a minority language raises particular challenges, since the language needs of new groups can be perceived as threatening to indigenous minority languages, particularly if resources are spread too thinly. Most children in the Republic now learn Irish as a single compulsory subject from school entry at age 4-5, and it is the second language for the majority. About 5% of the pupils (33,000) attend the 168 primary and 43 post-primary Irish-medium schools in the Republic and Northern Ireland. In addition, there is a system of Irish-medium preschools (naíonraí) for children aged three to four years. These preschools have been particularly popular since they began in the 1970's, and currently serve over 3,000 children per year in 167 groups. It is these groups which are the focus of the research discussed below.
Type of material: Book Chapter
Publisher: Trentham Books
Keywords: Irish languageOfficial languageEndangered languageImmigrationLinguistic diversity
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Language: en
Status of Item: Not peer reviewed
Is part of: Kenner, C., Hickey, T. (eds.). Multilingual Europe: Diversity and Learning
ISBN: 978-1858564234
This item is made available under a Creative Commons License:
Appears in Collections:Psychology Research Collection

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