Teacher language awareness in post-primary immersion education: outlooks, experiences and opinions of subject teachers in Gaelcholáistí

Christine Ní Chathasaigh and T.J. Ó Ceallaigh


The target language is used to teach both the subject and the language in immersion education. Therefore, content- and language-based instruction is a central part of effective immersion education. It would appear that significant competence in the target language should form the basis of and support teachers’ practice in post-primary immersion education. However, that is not always the case. As immersion education grows in Ireland and an increased number of students attend Gaelcholáistí, it is important that teachers are highly competent in the language and qualified to teach their particular subject area. This article, which focuses on the perspective of subject teachers in Gaelcholáistí, provides an account of the significant challenges that exist in dealing with the demands of the academic subject, as well as developing students’ competence in the immersion language. Data was collected from five teachers from different Gaelcholáistí, using interviews and focus groups. A clear and specific insight is provided into the significant difficulties facing subject teachers teaching in all-Irish post-primary classrooms. Uncertainty, lack of understanding and lack of awareness in relation to the role that subject teachers have in nurturing and developing the accurate use of the target language was shown. Certain conditions were identified as affecting a subject teacher’s ability to nurture the accurate use of Irish in class: insufficient language competency; lack of education; lack of support; lack of guidance. At the end of the article, the implications for Continuous Professional Development and future research are discussed.

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COMHARTaighde is an open access, peer-reviewed scholarly journal in the field of Irish language and literature studies. The full text of the article described on this page is available in the Irish language only. English-language translations of article titles, abstracts and certain metadata are provided in order to enable international scholars to discover research published in COMHARTaighde and to facilitate the indexing of articles in certain academic databases.

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ISSN: 2009-8626