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November 22, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A conference supporting multilingual learners and literacy will take place at UCD on November 24th and 25th, 2012. The conference is organised by UCD and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Dublin.

This is the second annual conference of the network of Polish schools, Ireland’s biggest network of migrant-led schools.

At a time when the Department of Education and Skills in Ireland is striving to improve and increase literacy levels, all schools which support and develop the multilingual skills of their students play a vital role in this work. Among these are the growing number of migrant-led schools in Ireland as well as the many mainstream Irish schools which provide non-curricular language classes on their own initiative.

Census 2011 is testament to the huge diversity of languages spoken in Ireland: almost 10% of the population said they spoke a language at home other than English or Irish. From an economic viewpoint, there is a demonstrable need to maintain and increase this multilingualism in Ireland. Government needs to invest more in supporting and encouraging language learning from a young age.

As the first academic institution in Ireland to provide such a level of support for migrant education and integration, this conference is a demonstration of UCD’s leadership in this area and its ongoing investment in education.

Over 90 delegates are expected to attend. These include representatives from all the Polish schools in Ireland as well as the principals of the various Irish schools which already teach many different languages, e.g., Polish, Arabic, Japanese, etc.

An important discussion point will be the proposed Junior Certificate reform and the introduction of languages, such as Polish, at Junior Cert. level.

Among the speakers and experts who will attend the conference are Prof. Bairbre Redmond (UCD) who will open the conference, Prof. Sarah Smyth (Trinity College, Dublin), Prof. Hans Luschützky (University of Vienna, Austria) and Dr Agnieszka Rabiej (Jagiellonian University, Poland).


Notes to editors:

• 514,068 (almost 10%) of the population stated in Census 2011 that they spoke a language other than English or Irish at home.

• The Polish community is the largest minority group in Ireland, with a population of 122,585 (Census 2011), almost a 100% increase on figures returned in Census 2006.

• There are 26 Polish weekend schools which cater for approx. 4,100 Polish children living in Ireland. The Polish schools in Ireland operate at the weekend. On Saturdays and Sundays, pupils follow the Polish school curriculum in Polish (language), history, geography and maths.

• Only on rare occasions do Irish mainstream schools provide classes in the first language for their pupils. This is mainly a school-based initiative. The school is not obliged to provide first language classes for pupils whose first language is not English. Examples of these schools are the Muslim schools in Dublin (Arabic), Arklow CBS, Co Wicklow, Errigal College, Co Donegal and Hartstown Community College, Dublin (Polish, among other languages).

• At present, approximately 10% of primary school pupils and 12% of post-primary school students were born outside of Ireland. In schools, there are pupils from over 160 countries and over 200 languages are spoken. For approximately 70-75%, English is not their first language.

• There exists a substantial body of international research evidence in support of maintaining and developing first language proficiency among minority language children. These data particularly point to the positive benefits of first language proficiency on the development of the second language.

• Migrant-led schools are a vital link in the development and maintenance of the first language.

• Attached: Conference programme

For more information contact:
Name: Niamh Nestor
Tel.: 086 3961430

Photos will be available after event.

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