Immersion Bilingual Education – Pictured at the Third All-Ireland Research Conference on Immersion Education which took place at Mary Immaculate College were: L-R: Siobhán Ní Mhurchú, Sarah Ní Dhuinnín, Toirdealbhach Ó Lionáird, Carmel Nic Airt, Nóra Ní Bheaglaoich, Caoileann Ní Dhonnchadha, Dr Conchúr Ó Brolcháin, Christine Ní Chathasaigh, Dr Sylvaine Ní Aogáin.
This was among a number of key findings discussed at the two-day event, which was attended by over 200 delegates representing eleven different countries
Immersion education is now firmly established as a successful and effective form of bilingual education for all students, according to Phil Fox, Acting Director of the Teaching Council, who was speaking at the Third All-Ireland Research Conference on Immersion Education held in Mary Immaculate College.
This was among a number of key findings discussed at the two day event, which was attended by over 200 delegates representing eleven different countries. The conference was organised in conjunction with Mary Immaculate College, An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta, Munster Technological University, Gaeloideachas, Foras na Gaeilge and Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta. Academics, practioners and professionals alike exchanged and discussed new directions and research in the field of immersion education including immersion pedagogy and assessment, leadership and professional learning and policy and innovation in bilingual/multilingual communities.
Opening the conference, Professor Emer Ring, Dean of Education at MIC said: “The Programme for Government, Our Shared Future (2020), includes a commitment to provide a comprehensive policy for the Irish language from early learning and care settings to third level. There is a pressing need for further research in the area to investigate pedagogical issues in all-Irish education in both Gaeltacht and non-Gaeltacht areas and to cater for these issues, as well as ensuring everyone can benefit from the advantages of bilingualism and multilingualism. We need to realise this vision and act promptly, and a very valuable starting point and forum for debate is being provided here at this international conference. It is time to promote a fresh era of confidence.”
Keynote speaker and renowned scholar in the field, Professor Roy Lyster, Emeritus of Second Language Education, McGill University, Canada, highlighted the important exchange of research knowledge and pedagogic practice that took place at the conference and the crucial role they play in supporting high-quality programme implementation and development. He went on to say: “I heartily congratulate the many individuals and institutions whose collaborative efforts have worked to shape an outstanding program for this immersion conference. Collaborative, coordinated efforts and synergies, such as these, to gather and share new research, perspectives, and ideas are critical for the field and for the continued success and growth of Irish-medium education in Ireland and language immersion education across the globe”.
Conference Director, Dr T.J. Ó Ceallaigh, Director of Taught Postgraduate Studies in Education at MIC, noted the pressing need for immersion pedagogy to be anchored in research to tackle the persistent challenges and to address the myriad questions in all-Irish education in both Gaeltacht and non-Gaeltacht contexts. Dr Ó Ceallaigh commented “Immersion education is now firmly established as a successful and effective form of bilingual education for all students. However, designing, implementing, and refining language immersion education which successfully promotes additive bilingualism, biliteracy, multicultural competence, and academic achievement requires considerable support. It is critical that this support is powered by scholarship in immersion teaching and learning, visionary leadership and community innovation and advocacy. This conference provided an international forum which brought together the latest academic and policy discussions, and promoted critical debate on these often-complex interconnections of language immersion education”.
A leading academic on immersion education and conference keynote speaker, Professor Diane J. Tedick, Professor of Second Language Education at the University of Minnesota, USA noted: “I’m delighted to be here at the 3rd All-Ireland Research Conference on Immersion Education in Limerick. I am happy to say I’ve been at all three of these conferences and have always appreciated the quality of the presentations and the level of discussion they generate. Immersion education is such a significant part of Irish language reclamation efforts here in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland, and this conference provides an opportunity for scholars and practitioners from the whole island and beyond to come together. There is tremendous value in sharing language immersion knowledge, new research, and practical application on an international scale, which this conference accomplishes in meaningful ways.”
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