Dia Duit! Gaeilge is my mother tongue!
More and more children all over the world are growing up speaking two or more languages. Being bilingual has incredible advantages for children, and speaking a language like Irish gives you a head start when learning other languages too! You can use Irish in Ireland, but you will find many other speakers all over the world!
In this fun podcast we produced with RTÉ Junior you can hear Niamh talking to her mum Fiona. They live in Connemara and speak Irish. She and her mum Fiona talk Communions, Australia and the need for a good “scáth báistí”. Although she was born in Australia, Niamh heard Irish from birth and now her life is truly bilingual!
If you are an Irish speaker living abroad and want your child to learn and use Irish with you, here are some tips:
– start as early as possible: speak Irish to your baby from birth, or as early as possible. You can use music as songs, as recommended in this post.
– make it part of your routines: use Irish regularly in your routines, from preparing breakfast, to walking to the park, to bed-time routines. Playing can be fun, too, so check out this list of simple ideas for older children.
– make a plan: plan games and activities to do together in Irish. Here are some fun ideas you can try!
– identify resources: find books, games and other resources that can help you along the way. You can get started with some of the audio books listed here.
– find someone to help you: it is important for children to see that there are other families who speak Irish in their environment. Find or create a parent and toddler group in your area or arrange meetings with other families who speak Irish. For older children, try to find a language class so your child can experience the language and the culture also outside the home.
– Praise your child’s success: when your child says a new word, when they talk to you in Irish, or when they learn to read, don’t focus on the errors but praise their efforts and show them how much you enjoy speaking Irish to them.
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