What is a Naíonra?/Benefits of Bilingual Education

What is a Naíonra?
A Naíonra is a group of children coming together daily for 2-3 hours in a pleasant, cheerful and safe environment, under the guidance and supervision of a Stiúrthóir (Leader). The staff structures the environment to ensure that all facets of the child’s holistic development are catered for, which giving the child the opportunity to acquire Irish naturally through the medium of play, which is this particular age group’s chief method of learning.

The Naíonra philosophy
The Naíonra enables children to acquire Irish as distinct from teaching them in the traditional manner. Children hear Irish being spoken at all times by the Stiúrthóir Naíonra (Naíonra Leader). This method is known as Early Immersion Education (Luath-thumoideachas). With early immersion the child learns through a second language (in this case Irish). The Stiúrthóir understands everything the child says in his first language but answers him in the second language while also providing him with the necessary vocabulary in the second language. The child will begin to use Irish when he is ready to do so, each child at his own pace.

“Immersion education is regarded by many as the most effective means of learning a second language. Most immersion students can be expected to reach higher levels of second language proficiency than students in other school-based language programmes (Met, 1998).”

“From the standpoint of academic achievement, over three decades of studies consistently show that immersion students achieve as well as, or better than, non-immersion peers on standardized measures of verbal and mathematics skills administered in English (Cloud, Genesee & Hamayan, 2000; Genesee, 1987).”

Benefits of Bilingual Education

  • A higher competency level is achievable in both languages for students undertaking bilingual education. This enables wider communication throughout regional and cultural groups.
  • Broader exposure to and appreciation of the value of various cultures, deeper multi-culturalism, greater tolerance and less racism.
  • Biliteracy (the ability to read and write two languages)
  • Greater academic success.
  • Cognitive benefits
  • Raised self-esteem.
  • More secure identity.
  • Economic advantages (employment).