Over 10% of students now speak a home language that is neither Irish nor English - Supporting Multilingual Classrooms - Ireland hosts Council of Europe Workshop in Marino Institute of Education, Dublin
Teachers, school leaders and teacher educators around the country are attending the Council of Europe workshop, Supporting Multilingual Classrooms on 9 and 10 June.
The Dublin workshop, part of a series being held in a number of member states, is being hosted by the Post-Primary Languages Initiative in the Marino Institute of Education, a project of the Department of Education and Skills.
Minister Richard Bruton, TD, has welcomed that the Post-Primary Languages Initiative is acting as host, commenting that “Over 10% of our student population now speak a home language that is neither Irish nor English. This workshop increases the confidence of our school leaders and teachers in providing a quality educational experience for students. Ireland has developed good practice in this area and this conference provides a valuable opportunity to share that and develop it further”.
Some of the teachers attending the Dublin workshop come from schools where up to 50% of the student population speak at least one language other than English or Irish at home. The Minister went on to stress that “it is important to encourage the enhancement of such home language skills, which are an important cultural and economic asset for us all”.
Participants at the workshop will explore tools that support second language development and provide a better understanding of learners' specific needs. Creating an inclusive school environment in which all languages, including all home languages, are valued is also a theme - participants will look at how multilingualism in their schools can become an asset, and how a whole school approach to supporting it can be developed.
This intercultural approach examines how learners' home languages and cultures can be taken account of when planning classes, how links can be established between home languages and the language of schooling, and how the knowledge and experience that learners, parents and community groups bring to Irish education and society can be harnessed.
This complements significant work underway in the Department to improve the teaching and learning of languages in Irish schools.
Note for editors:
The workshop is part of a European Centre for Modern Languages initiative, which provides training workshops to support member states in ensuring access to quality education for migrant learners which will help bridge the attainment gap between these learners and non-migrant pupils. See http://www.ecml.at/TrainingConsultancy/Multilingualclassrooms
Such international projects are central to the activities of the European Centre for Modern Languages, of which Ireland is a member. In cooperation with the Language Policy Division of the Council of Europe, the Centre functions as a catalyst for reform in the teaching and learning of languages. It assists member states in bringing language education policies and practices together.
Work is underway in the Department to improve the teaching and learning of languages in Irish schools. This includes the recent development of a new integrated primary languages curriculum which is currently being introduced, and a new specification for Modern Languages developed by the NCCA as part of the new Framework for Junior Cycle. Both of these will be accompanied by new teaching and learning resources, as well as high quality continuing professional development for teachers. Short courses in new languages have also been developed via the Post-Primary Languages Initiative, and these courses offer newcomers the opportunity to gain accreditation for maintaining their home languages.