What is Irish Medium Education?

An Foras Pátrúnachta / Info for parents / What is Irish Medium Education?

Why Irish Medium Education & Immersion Education?

Immersion education is the system of education of an Irish-Medium school. The benefits of Immersion education are recognised internationally. In Immersion education schools the pupils are immersed in Irish from their first day in school. The teacher will speak only Irish to the pupils until their second term in Senior Infants. This system has been proven worldwide to be the most effective for language acquisition.

What is the model of immersion education used in schools under An Foras Pátrúnachta?

The class teacher will speak and teach through Irish only to the pupils from the beginning of Naíonáin Bheaga (Junior Infants) until the Christmas break in Naíonáin Mhóra (Senior Infants). After the Christmas break, English is introduced to the curriculum, but until then, the children will only hear their teacher speak Irish to them. Comprehensive studies (MET, 1998) have found that the most effective method of acquiring a language is through immersion.

It is policy in all schools under An Foras Pátrúnachta that immersion education is implemented and practised.

The speaking of Irish by the teachers and students is central to what a Gaelscoil is. Encouragement and enticement is the most desirable way of promoting Irish in the school by use of strategies such as praise, prizes and rewards. This positive culture has contributed to the success and popularity of Gaelscoileanna.

Why do parents choose an Irish-Medium School?

  • It is extremely important to them that their children are fluent as Gaeilge.
  • They recognise that children get a particular perspective on our culture and others.
  • Due to the pride developed in children in their language, their culture and in themselves.
  • An ability to speak, read and write fluently in two languages.
  • The excellent education children receive in Irish medium schools.
  • Raising of self-esteem and sense of identity.

Along with these reasons there are numerous other benefits for children who attend an Irish Medium School. According to research on bilingual education following are the results for students who go through the system:

  • Better performance academically (Gallagher & Hanna, 2002).
  • Easier to learn a third and a fourth language (Cenoz & Valencia 1994).
  • An understanding and openness to other cultures (Gallagher & Hanna, 2002).
  • Improvement in cognitive functioning in creativity and communication (Bialystok et al. 2005).
  • Higher scores in English and Maths (Education Research Centre, 2011)
  • Enhanced awareness of identity, culture and sense of community (Baker, 2003)
  • Increased Self Esteem (Baker, 2003)
  • Bilingual Education enriches academic productivity, creative talents andself-esteem in students (NMABE, 2006; Cummins, 2000)
  • Improved communication and social skills (Cummins, 2000)

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