Gaelic-medium education - What is it?
Gaelic medium education is one of the main ways of achieving or maintaining fluency in Gaelic. This is especially true of children from a non-Gaelic speaking background. Gaelic medium education is open to everyone, those who speak Gaelic and those who do not.
Pupils who are not Gaelic speakers to start with, indeed who come from non-Gaelic speaking homes and communities, can be brought to fluency in the language through what is referred to as immersion. Immersion means that pupils are taught only in Gaelic, while they are doing the usual things that children do in the early years of their education - in playgroup, nursery and primary school. Their teachers utilise all available opportunities to develop pupils' Gaelic skills - through songs, stories, games and especially through structured play.
Gaelic medium education reinforces the language of fluent speakers and also enables them to become fully literate in the language.
Gaelic medium education in the primary school involves the use of the Gaelic language for all learning and teaching, across all subjects in the curriculum, using immersion methods in P1 and P2. English reading and writing are generally introduced from P3 but the principal language of the classroom is Gaelic throughout primary. The aim of Gaelic medium education, through the government's national guidelines, is to take children to the same level of fluency in Gaelic and English by the time they leave primary school. In most instances Gaelic medium education is delivered in Gaelic medium departments within English medium schools but some areas now have Gaelic medium schools.
The number of pupils who are in Gaelic medium education at primary school level has risen from 24 in 1985 in 2 schools to over 2,000 in the school year 2006-2007 in 62 schools.
Laxdale School currently has 42 children learning through the medium of Gaelic. We have three composite classes that are dedicated to promoting the Gaelic language in a positive, meaningful learning environment.