Building bridges: Cross-Sectoral Community of Practice for Modern Foreign Language Instruction in Irish-Medium Education (IME) Gaelscoileanna.

Ref: 02/28/2024 - 3202020
Name: Julia Collins (Lecturer in Education)
Email Address:
Phone Number: 0851630608
Institution Address: University College Cork
Seeking a partner/s in: Northern Ireland

Interprofessional collaboration within the education system has been a proven and longstanding exemplar of continuous professional development. Teachers, when viewed as ‘change agents’, Cordiner, M. (2014), have the professional capacity ‘to develop and steward knowledge’ within their respective fields, educational institutions and wider school communities Wenger, E., McDermott, R. & Snyder, W.M. (2002). By merging primary and post-primary professional practices to help support Modern Foreign Language (MFL) pedagogy in Immersion Education (IME), we are succinctly reinforcing Lave and Wenger’s definition of Communities of Practice (CoP), whilst simultaneously enhancing plurilinguistic competencies through cross-sectoral and cross-contextual collaboration. (Lave & Wenger, 1991).

I hope to conduct my research in conjunction with the
“Say Yes to Languages Initiative 2017-2026”.
Currently 1,200 primary schools are participating in this scheme to pilot and gauge the children’s response to the MFL/ISL model. However, only 49/1200 of those school are Gaelscoileanna.
Gaelscoileanna acutely align with broader efforts to revitalize and preserve the Irish language. Additionally, there is a long history of governmental, cultural and other educational initiatives that actively participate in promoting immersion programmes and bilingual education to strengthen the Irish language’s presence. However, it is curious to see how Irish-medium educational establishments have been played such a minute participatory role in this pilot scheme. Gaelscoileanna should be encouraged and celebrated for their efforts to preserve linguistic integrity and used as blueprints towards successful language acquisition establishments going forward.

Without this investigation into Gaelscoileanna’s response to MFL teaching and learning, there is undiscovered data and unlocked potential as to what can learn from students’ metalinguistic skills as MFL learners in the Irish context. Bilingual and immersion education should be used as didactic capital and used advantageously in order to reflect social reality.