Comhdháil iontach

Cuireadh an t-eagras réamhscolaíochta Altram ar bun sa bhliain 1990 le tacaíocht a thabhairt do thionscnaimh oideachais luathbhlianta lán-Ghaeilge.

Eagraíonn Altram cúrsaí oiliúna agus cuireann sé acmhainní ar fáil do na baill foirne, do na coistí agus do na tuismitheoirí a bhfuil baint acu le naíscoileanna.

D’eagraigh sé comhdháil idirnáisiunta an tseachtain seo caite i nDoire. (Dála an scéil, tá fás agus forbairt ag teacht ar Dhoire mar ionad comhdhálacha – sampla eile de dhul chun cinn na cathrach seo.)

Idir na cainteoirí bhí an Dochtúir Antonella Sorace ó Ollscoil Dhún Éideann, a chuir an cheist ‘Cad chuige a bhfuil an dátheangachas tábhachtach?’ Labhair an Dochtúir Piet Van de Craén ó Vrije Universiteit, an Bhruiséil, ar an téama ‘Dátheangachas luath agus an tAontas Eorpach’. Labhair Aodán Mac Póilin (Iontaobhas Ultach) ar an Ghaeilge sa Tuaisceart, agus thug Áine Andrews ó Altram léacht ar ‘Oideachas Gaeilge na luthbhlianta i dTuaisceart Éireann idir bhuanna agus dhúshláin’.

Ar an Aoine bhí ceardlanna ann, ag taispeáint áiseanna atá ar fáil do thuismitheoiri agus do mhúinteoirí.

Tá na luathbhlianta thar a bheith tábhachtach. Ba chóir don phaiste tosú ar an dara teanga chomh luath agus is féidir. Ní fheiceann páiste beag fadhb le dhá theanga: cuireann sé iontas ort an dóigh a bhfuil páiste óg ábalta dul ó theanga amháin go teanga eilegan smaoineamh, i ndiaidh tamaillín i naíscoil nó i mbunscoil. Ach ní míorúilt é seo: tá dhá theanga ar a laghad ag dhá thrian de dhaonra an domhain. Nuair a thosaíonn duine níos moille ar theanga, feiceann sé sraith fadhbanna- gramadach, stór focal, aistriúchán srl.: tá sé ag iarraidh a lán a fhoghlaim gan mórán achair ar dhóigh mhínádúrtha. Is féidir teanga a fhoghlaim níos moille sa saol, ach tá sé i bhfad níos deacra. Osclaíonn an dátheangachas an intinn (Sin an fáth go bhfuil mé féin chomh leathanaigeanta sin.) agus tugann sé léargas agus féinmhuinín agus a lán eile don pháiste, ar ndóigh.

The pre-school organisation Altram was set up in 1990 to support all-Irish early years projects.

Altram organises training and resources for staff members, committees and parents who have an active interest in Irish language nurseries.

Altram organised an international conference last week in Derry.(By the way, the development of conference facilities in Derry is another example of the progress being made in this city.)

Among the speakers was Doctor Antonella Sorace of Edinburgh University who asked the question ‘Why is bilingualism important?’. Doctor Piet Van de Craén from Vrije Universiteit, Brussels, spoke on the theme ‘Early bilingualism in the European Union.’ Aodán Mac Póilin (The Ulster Trust) spoke about the Irish language in Northern Ireland, and Áine Andrews from Altram gave a lecture on ‘Early years Irish education in Northern Ireland, successes and challenges.’

There were workshops on the Friday, showing resources for parents and teachers.

The early years are extremely important. A child should start the second language as early as possible. A small child sees no problem with two languages: it is amazing how a young child can go from one language to another without thinking after a short while in an all-Irish nursery or primary school. But this is not a miracle: two thirds of the world’s population speak at least two languages. When someone starts to learn a language later, he sees a series of problems: grammar, vocabulary, translation, etc.: he is trying to learn a lot within a short period of time in an unnatural way. You can learn a language later on in life, but it is much more difficult. Bilingualism opens the mind (that is why I am so broad-minded myself) and it gives the child insight and self confidence - and much more, of course.