Why choose Irish-medium education?

Choosing Irish-medium education will have many long-term benefits for your child – he or she will gain communication skills in two languages, have more employment opportunities, find it easier to learn other languages and see lots of other social benefits too.

Whether you have Irish or not, there are lots of practical things you can do to help your child to prepare for the move to post-primary school.

Cognitive advantages of Immersion Education

Immersion education leads to greater cognitive flexibility and divergent thinking;

  • promotes creative thinking, with the ability to provide a range of valid solutions to a problem.
  • Improves memory skills
  • Leads to increased attentional control and enhanced executive control; this means that students are better at paying attention, focusing on and completing tasks, listening and communicating.
  • Research shows that bilingualism can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by up to 4 years!

Fluency & literacy in two languages

  • Students develop fluency and literacy in both Irish and English in school.
  • Better understanding of the foundations of a language: grammar, word formation, sentence structure. 
  • Students learn additional languages, thanks to the literacy skills they acquire through immersion education.
  • Transferrable skills can be applied to other languages. 

Development of effective listening & communication skills

Parents need not worry that their children will not understand their teacher. The immersion model supports children’s language acquisition through total absorption and involvement, it is not a “sink-or-swim” approach.

Students’ ability in other languages (including English) increases rather than decreases with immersion education. Languages share the same cognitive process; concepts and skills acquired in one are transferred to the other and are processed in either language since both are interactive.

  • Receive broader exposure to other cultures and develop a greater respect for them. 
  • Promotes multiculturalism.
  • Improves self-awareness.

Immersion education fosters higher levels of tolerance amongst children. Students have a broader exposure to and appreciation of the value of various cultures, this leads to deeper multiculturalism, greater tolerance and less racism. Bilingualism gives them a greater sense of identity and increases their self-esteem.

Academic Benefits

Children gain a better understanding of the foundations of language – grammar, word formation, sentence order – through immersion education, and they gain transferable skills that help them to learn other languages.

Students in Irish-medium schools have higher achievement in both English and Maths than their peer groups in English-medium schools. Irish-medium schools are also more likely to provide a broader curriculum than other school types.

Supports for Immersion Education in the Coláiste

Extra help for students
Club Gaeilge at lunchtime
language assistant in class
induction course for 1st years
‘is leor beirt’ conversation circle
trips to other gaeltachts
scholarship to the gaeltacht
Exam papers available in english

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to speak Irish to register my child at Coláiste Muire?

No. Children from all linguistic and cultural backgrounds are welcome in Coláiste Muire.

You can do a lot to encourage your child to become fluent in Irish without being able to speak the language yourself. The majority of children in Coláiste Muire do not have Irish as one of their home languages. 

The best way to help your child in post-primary school is to show them that you are positive about them going to school and becoming fluent in Irish. Letting your child know that you are proud of them, that you’re interested in what they’re doing in school and that you’re excited to learn along with them will be a big help to them.

How does immersion education benefit students who speak Irish at home?

Immersion education gives students who are native Irish speakers the opportunity to build on their fluency and enrich their language skills. Immersion in Irish both in the classroom setting and outside of it supports the family’s use of Irish at home.

How will learning everything through Irish affect my child’s development in English?

Irish-medium immersion education has a positive effect on students’ fluency in English, rather than a negative one. Students’ abilities in other languages (including English) is helped rather than hindered. Parents need not worry about the students’ ability should they choose to continue study at third level, as the skills the students develop at post-primary level are transferrable to their third-level education. Students do not have difficulty getting to grips with terminology in English as they have already developed an understanding of the concepts required to study the subject.

Is Irish-medium education suitable for students with special needs?

Yes. Coláiste Muire provide education for students with special needs, both physical and educational; students with impaired sight or hearing, autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia and other special educational needs. Irish-medium schools offer the same supports for these students as English-medium schools do.

Immersion education does no harm to students who have special educational needs and a report from the National Council for Special Education published in 2011 recognised that bilingual education contributes to students’ social, emotional and interpersonal growth.

How will I help my child with homework?

We recognise the importance of engaging parents in all aspects of their child’s learning, including homework. Teachers at Coláiste Muire are aware that many parents may not speak Irish and homework is designed to reinforce what the student has already covered during school hours.

Your child will be able to explain the homework they’ve been given in the language you speak together at home. It will help your child a lot if you show them that you’re very interested in how they are becoming fluent in Irish, and in the progress they’re making at school.

My child doesn’t attend an Irish-medium primary school. Can I still register them at Coláiste Muire?

Yes. Many of the students at Coláiste Muire did not attend an Irish-medium primary school. We welcome students from all primary schools and our teachers provide extra help for all students who are not yet comfortable with the Irish language. 

Immersion education helps students to become fluent through participation and total absorption; it’s not a sink-or-swim approach. Language is taught in the context of subject and this integrated learning approach helps the student to make progress in both their fluency in Irish and their mastery of the subject. 

Research into the progress made by students in Irish-medium post-primary schools who attended English-medium primary schools has shown that they attained equally high marks in both Irish and Maths at Junior Certificate level to those students who had been educated through Irish at primary level.

Are there books and resources available for the students in Irish?

Yes. The teachers at Coláiste Muire create a lot of their own resources and there are many books in Irish also. COGG, the statutory agency that provides for the educational needs of Irish-medium and Gaeltacht schools, provides teaching resources and support services for Irish-medium education and you’ll find a directory of available resources here: http://www.cogg.ie/en/resource-directory/.

Will students have the same opportunities outside of the classroom as they would in an English-medium school?

Yes, and more! Irish-medium schools take part in all kinds of local and national events, and some, like the Young Scientists, have special awards for those who participate in Irish. There is also a wide range of events specifically for students in Irish-medium schools; sport, debating, drama, music and more