The first cross border Research Conference on Immersion Education will be held in Mary Immaculate College (MIC) from 15-16 May 2015 providing opportunities for academics, practitioners and professionals to exchange and discuss new directions and research in the ever-evolving field of immersion education.
During the two day event, keynote addresses, posters and research papers will be presented on various topics such as Guiding principles of Irish-medium education and language education policy; Content and Language Integrated Learning and Special Educational Needs.
According to the Conference Director, T.J. O’Ceallaigh, Department of Language, Literacy and Numeracy Education, MIC, “While research on language immersion education has heralded benefits such as academic achievement and language and literacy development, many studies have also identified challenges to its successful implementation. This inaugural conference aims to bring together academics, practitioners and professionals to exchange and discuss immersion research, theory and best practices and to initiate and sustain meaningful professional dialogue across languages, levels and diverse immersion contexts”.
Key note speakers will include Professor Diane J. Tedick, and Professor Tara W. Fortune, University of Minnesota, USA and Professor Muiris Ó Laoire, Institute of Technology Tralee. Prof. Tedick is associate professor in Second Languages and Cultures Education at the University of Minnesota where she works with Master’s and Ph.D. students in second/foreign language and bilingual/immersion education and directs the online certificate program in Dual Language and Immersion Education. Her primary research interests involve teacher development for and student language development in one-way and two-way language immersion settings. Specifically, she is interested in how immersion teachers learn to systematically integrate language instruction to maximize the language learning potential of immersion programs. Tedick participates actively in the U.S. and international immersion
communities, serves as a consultant to immersion programs, and speaks regularly at conferences. She is the 2013 co-recipient of the ACTFL-MLJ Paul Pimsleur Award for Research in Foreign Language Education and is founding co-editor of a research journal titled Journal of Immersion and Content-Based Language Education.
Prof. Fortune is an immersion teaching specialist and director of the Immersion Research and Professional Development Project at the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA), University of Minnesota. She devotes most of her professional time to the preparation and continuing education of immersion educators throughout the U.S. and abroad. Prof. Fortune serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Immersion and Content-Based Language Education and current research interests include immersion students’ oral language proficiency development, the struggling immersion learner and literacy development in early total immersion programmes.
Prof. Muiris Ó Laoire works in the School of Social Sciences at the Institute of Technology, Tralee. He has worked in Institúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann (ITÉ), the NCCA and is a former president of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics (IRAAL). He was appointed full professor at Auckland University of Technology, Auckland in 2011 and has retained his honorific title on return to his permanent position in the Institute of Technology, Tralee, last year. He is author of many books, chapters and articles on language pedagogy, language policy and multilingualism.
Speaking in advance of the conference Prof. Michael A Hayes, President of MIC said “I am pleased that such a conference is being held in this College, a higher education institute which has a longstanding involvement with Irish language teaching at primary level. This conference marks a historic event, being the first of its kind to explore the different perspectives on immersion education by professionals, academics and practitioners”.
Continuing he said “Immersion education is being implemented in the context of the teaching of Irish from the early years of the state. In recent years, researchers are raising issues regarding immersion education examining its effect as a system of education and as an agency and model for language planning education and language revitalisation”.
This conference is the first of its kind in this country and brings together various organisations and institutions including Mary Immaculate College, An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta; Institute of Technology Tralee; Gaelscoileanna Teoranta; Foras na Gaeilge and Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta.
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