Second All-Ireland research conference held at Mary Immaculate College

Mary Immaculate College, Limerick Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22

Immersion education is now firmly established as a successful and effective form of bilingual education for all students according to Dr Eugene O’Brien, Vice President for Academic Affairs, MIC, who was speaking at the Second All-Ireland Research Conference on Immersion Education held in Mary Immaculate College on May 18th & 19th, 2018.

This was among a number of key findings discussed at the two day event, which was attended by over 200 delegates representing eleven different countries. Academics, practioners and professionals alike exchanged and discussed new directions and research in the field of immersion education.

Opening the conference Dr Eugene O’ Brien, Vice President for Academic Affairs, MIC, said “The benefits of immersion education are indeed many but research has also exposed some of the challenges. As a consequence, the field of immersion is dynamic and is still evolving in new directions, through new applications of theory and in response to emerging challenges.  I hope that this conference will promote critical debate on these issues”.

At the conference, Dr Karen Ní Chlochasaigh, post-doctoral researcher at DCU Institute of Education and The Educational Research Centre shared findings from a study which investigates the effect of immersion education on achievement, progress and attitudes in all-Irish schools in disadvantaged areas in the Republic of Ireland (DEIS schools).

Conference Director, Dr T.J. Ó Ceallaigh, Department of Language and Literacy Education, MIC, noted the pressing need for immersion pedagogy to be anchored in research to tackle the persistent challenges and to address the myriad questions in all-Irish education in both Gaeltacht and non-Gaeltacht contexts. Dr Ó Ceallaigh commented“Designing, implementing, and refining language immersion education which successfully promotes additive bilingualism, biliteracy, multicultural competence, and academic achievement requires considerable support. It is critical that this support is powered by scholarship in immersion teaching and learning, visionary leadership and community innovation and advocacy. This conference provided an international forum which brought together the latest academic and policy discussions, and promoted critical debate on these often-complex interconnections of language immersion education”.

Professor David Lasagabaster, University of the Basque Country, also commented on the depth of scholarship and breadth of experience represented by the participants at the conference.

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“This conference has been a great opportunity to get to know more about the situation of Irish and Irish-medium education. It provides an excellent opportunity to share research results, experiences and reflections in the field, while it also serves as a forum to get informed about immersion experiences in other contexts. A most commendable academic event!” Professor Lasagabaster concluded.

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