BÉARLA – FADHB AR BITH!

Bíonn imní ar thuismitheoirí go minic agus iad ag cuimhneamh ar a bpáiste a chur chuig Gaelscoil. Má tá an páiste ag déanamh achan rud tríd an Ghaeilge, nach mbeidh a chuid Béarla thíos leis? Nach gcuirfear trína chéile é? Rinne Dónal Ó hAiniféin taighde air seo agus ábhar iontais a bhí sna torthaí, b’fhéidir. Fuair sé amach go gcuidíonn an Ghaeilge leis an Bhéarla. ‘Trasnaíonn scileanna léitheoireachta ó theanga go teanga. Cuireann teanga na scoile (Gaeilge) le stór teangeolaíochta an pháiste.’ Léiríonn taighdeoirí sa Bhreatain Bheag go bhfuil buntáistí do dhaltaí a d’fhoghlaim léitheoireacht trí Bhreatnais i gcomparáid le Béarlóirí. Ach chomh maith leis sin, taispeánann an Spáinneach, C.Sanz gur fusa an tríú teanga a fhoghlaim nuair atá an dara teanga agat. Fuair J.Harris amach go raibh caighdeán léitheoireachta na ndaltaí i scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge i bhfad níos airde ná caighdeán léitheoireachta na ndaltaí i ngnáthscoileanna. Rinne na Gaelscoileanna taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht níos fearr ná scoileanna sa Ghaeltacht fein! Tugann na páistí Gaelscoile isteach go gasta nuair a thosaíonn siad ar an Bhéarla: ‘Go bunúsach, bhí siad ar a laghad 10% os cionn an mheáin náisiúnta.’ Is léir go n-éiríonn go han-mhaith leis an Ghaeloideachas. Ach tá rud amháin níos tábhachtaí ná rud ar bith eile sa phróiseas: ‘Tugann tuismitheoirí, oidí agus pobal iomlán tacaíocht.’ Is féidir leis na tuismitheoirí cuidiú lena bpáiste, cé nach bhfuil Gaeilge acu: gheobhaidh siad comhairle agus cabhair ón scoil. Téann díograis na dtuismitheoirí sna bunscoileanna Gaeilge i bhfeidhm orm, caithfidh mé a rá. Tumoideachas – sin an bealach chun tosaigh, gan amhras. Mura bhfaigheann an dalta ach leathuair an chloig den Ghaeilge gach lá, bhuel, mar a deir Ó hAiniféin, coimeádfar an t-othar beo: ní bheidh sé/sí ábalta seasamh agus siúl.

ENGLISH – NO PROBLEM!

Parents are often worried when they are thinking of sending their children to an all-Irish school. If the child is doing everything through Irish, will his English not suffer? Will he not get confused? Dónal ÓhAinféin has done research on this and the results were perhaps surprising. He found out that Irish helps English. ‘Reading skills transfer from language to language. The language of the school (Irish) adds to the child’s linguistic store.’ Researchers in Wales show that children who learn reading through Welsh have an advantage over those who speak only English. As well as that, the Spaniard, C.Sanz shows that it is easier to learn a third language when you know a second language. J.Harris discovered that the standard of reading of pupils in all-Irish schools was much higher than the standard of pupils in ordinary schools. The Irish medium schools outside of the Gaeltacht did better than schools in the Gaeltacht itself! The Gaelscoil pupils catch up quickly when they start English: ‘Basically, they were at least 10% above the national average.’ It is obvious that Irish medium education is very successful. But one thing is more important than any other in the process: ‘Parents, teachers and the community give their support.’ Parents can help their child, even though they don’t know any Irish: they will get advice and help from the school. I must say that I am greatly impressed by the enthusiasm of parents in Irish medium primary schools. Immersion education is the way forward, without doubt. If a pupil gets only half an hour of Irish every day, well, as Ó hAiniféin says, the patient will be kept alive: he/she will not be able to stand up and walk.