An Foras Pátrúnachta to deliver new multilingual education initiative
The largest patron of Irish medium schools in the country, An Foras Pátrúnachta, (AFP), has launched a major new multilingual education initiative to advance multilingualism across its nationwide school network, with a view that pupils will leave primary school proficient in three languages. The initiative will be the focus of the An Foras Pátrúnachta national conference to be held on Saturday, 25th November, in Mullingar.
AFP will be promoting Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), which is an approach to language learning where the target language, such as German, French or Spanish, is used to teach both content and language, for example teaching maths through Spanish.
A series of pilot projects to test the new method will begin shortly across the country and will be open to all 65 of AFP’s primary schools. The first of these will involve Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada in Lucan, which will begin teaching through German this month. Gaelscoil Mhic Aodha in Kildare town and Gaelscoil Cholmcille in Dublin 17 will begin teaching through French in 2018.
Múinteoir Katy Dobey of Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada, who will teach art and music through German, said: “I am delighted to be introducing a third language to my Rang a hAon students in Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada. By First Class, the children have become comfortable working in their second language. Learning a third language is an interesting and inspiring challenge for them. As confident language learners, the children adapt easily to the addition of an extra language and I look forward to seeing my class reap the rewards of speaking a third language.”
AFP already employs a similar immersive method of language learning in its teaching through Irish across its school network, such as in Gaelscoil an Chuilinn in Tyrrelstown where a photocall to mark the CLIL announcement was held today. With over 170 pupils from Ireland, China, Lithuania, Slovakia, Poland, France and Spain, many pupils in Gaelscoil an Chuilinn already speak a third language at home. Gaelscoil an Chuilinn will participate in the pilot programme from September 2018.
Commenting, General Secretary of An Foras Pátrúnachta, Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, said: “The CLIL initiative is an ambitious programme that is intended to transform the way language education is delivered, and thought about, in this country. Our Conference will discuss and outline our path forward in delivering CLIL. We recognise that there will be much work ahead in rolling out this programme nationwide and we look forward to engaging with parents, partners and the educational policy community about this initiative.
“In a changing Ireland, and in a changing international situation, it will be vital for the country to expand our range of languages spoken fluently. Brexit is likely to have a significant linguistic effect over time, and Ireland needs to respond imaginatively to these new challenges.”
There will be two international speakers at the conference – co-founder of the European Language Council, Professor Piet Van de Craen and an expert in the implementation of multilingual educational projects, Inma Muñoa Barredo.
Professor van de Craen will discuss the results of the use of CLIL across Europe, and will show why pupils actually learn more effectively in a multilingual school environment. Inma Muñoa Barredo will present a multilingual school model which has been developed by the Ikastolas (Basque medium Schools) as a way of not only meeting the multilingual needs derived from being part of the European Union, but also as a way of promoting the use of Basque inside and outside the school setting.
The full conference programme is available at www.foras.ie.