The second conference on heritage language education in Ireland hosted by Mother Tongues took place on 2nd November 2019 in the Teachers’ Club.
It was a very inspiring event, filled with informative talks and presentations of projects as well as hands-on workshops on teaching techniques. We hosted over 60 teachers and representatives of complementary schools based in Ireland. Some of the languages of the attendees included Lithuanian, Polish, Tamil, Dutch, Mandarin Chinese, Croatian, Russian, Portuguese, Italian and French.
This conference, now in its second year, provides the opportunity for teachers to network, share experiences and upskill. Teaching heritage languages requires an incredible amount of dedication and creativity, as it consists of teaching language and literacy skills to children who often already have fluency in the language because they use it at home. It is different from teaching a first language, and it is different from teaching a second language, too! The real challenge that all teachers share lies in the diversity of skills of the students. In addition, children attend these classes outside of normal school hours, and teachers need to keep them motivated and passionate about the “extra work” required to develop strong literacy skills in the heritage language. Most of the teachers working at the weekend to support heritage languages do so because they love teaching and they are keen to children link to their heritage through language. Many of them teach on a voluntary basis and do so out of passion for their language and for children.
At Mother Tongues we know that heritage language teachers need ongoing support
, so we have introduced a membership
scheme which allows teachers to participate in three professional development sessions throughout the year. By becoming members of the heritage language schools network, teachers and schools join a group of like-minded people who are keen to network, upskill and share ideas and resources for heritage language teaching.
All information about this new initiative you can visit mothertongues.ie/for-heritage-language-schools
Over at Trinity College’s Innovation Academy, a group of budding innovators and entrepreneurs has been working on a project involving Mother Tongues as a fresh new start-up to explore ways Mother Tongues can be bigger, better and bring its bilingual support services to an even wider range of people. Read more
On Saturday 18th November we presented our project “Bilingual and Multilingual families network meetings” at the annual conference of IRAAL – the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics – at the University of Limerick. Read more