The largest patron of Irish medium schools in the country, An Foras Pátrúnachta (AFP), has launched a new initiative to advance multilingualism across its nationwide school network, with a view that pupils will leave primary school proficient in three languages.
AFP is 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 and will be open to all 65 of AFP’s primary schools. The first of these will involve Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada in Lucan, which began teaching through German last November.
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. 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.
General Secretary of An Foras Pátrúnachta, Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, said: “In a changing Ireland and international situation, it will be vital 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.”