Network of European Language Boards
Immersion and Trilingual Education Working Group
Dublin, 21-22 February 2005
Meirion Prys Jones
Dr Catrin Redknap
Ferdie Mac an Fhailigh
1 Presentation by FNT – pre schooling in the Irish language
2 Presentation by Gaeilscoileanna – Primary or post primary education
in the Irish language
Definition – needed for the website.
The aims of this type of education should be made clear –
- is it the only way to produce a minority language community?
No! All agreed its main aim is to educate children. The education has to
be at least as good, if not better that majority language education.
Opportunities to use the language outside school is vital in immersion
education – social and economic drivers vital for the success of the
education. The education system is a strong driver to create speakers,
and provides them with the equipment. HOWEVER, it does not provide
the context for the language.
4 Early Late and Mid Immersion
Agreed that the sooner the education starts the better.
In Ireland – Irish is taught as a subject in English medium primaries, and
there are a few instances of mid immersion, but there is no back up
system. There are language assistants in primary schools also.
In Friesland, the trilingual system an example of the mid immersion model.
In Wales, centres for latecomers provide a mid immersion model, and
there is a pilot project. Late immersion is present in one secondary school,
and there is one example of a centre for latecomers in a secondary school.
5 Teaching Methodologies
Language is used as the medium of play in immersion models. In Canada
- mid immersion methodology is very traditional, and teacher based.
However, group work and language use is vital for its success.
In teacher training, an immersion module is desirable in each example.
6 Monitoring/Evaluating Success
Need to look at useage, attitudes to transmission and levels of
transmission. There must be recognition within the education system for
The Basque experience is interesting – using the third language as a
vehicle for status – a marketing tool for the minority language.
Friesland – a small scale project whereby primary schools adopt English
in the final years. Societal demands may result in it being introduced
In Wales - because of the English language it is harder to market, as
French/German/Spanish don’t share its status.
Need to look at the Commission’s strategy for
Mother Tongue + 2, and consider
2 Mother Tongues + 2 instead.
Definition of Mother Tongue an issue to raise on the website.
8 Study Visit
Location – Basque Country
Date – in the autumn
Programme – to be decided in conjunction with Lorea.
Accessibility vital for the site – creating an infrastructure for a language
5 sections have been included, Foras na Gaeilge being one of them.
The directory a vital element of the website with links to 260 other
The website gets 12,000 visitors each month. An e-newsletter is sent to
all registered users of the website.
During the development of the website the officers spent a lot of time
poring over the internet looking at best practice in bilingual websites
design. The website will be developed further, and Foras is consulting
widely to this effect – possible developments include video streaming, and
audiofiles to bring the language alive. An advisory committee has been
set up with internal and external members to review he developments
every 2 months.
It was emphasised that media training is vital for staff in the frontline of
10 Internet Site
A description of systems – vital for the site. A template provided in respect of the Welsh system – needs to be adapted for the other members. No more that 5,000 words, following the headings of the template provided.
Description of the system as it is.
Main target audience – language planners, with parents as a lesser
audience – a short section at the beginning of each model description
required for parents.
Question and Answer section – a general section for teachers and parents. Need to avoid minority/majority issues – politically sensitive issues. Economical advantages important to list – bilingualism in the workplace.
Cross referencing to other information available on the internet vital.
Overarching names for the website –