Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

More effective teaching of Irish reading

Obtaining a clearer understanding of the challenges in teaching Irish reading and formulating an analysis of the Irish writing system can lead to a solid foundation for more effective teaching.
More effective teaching of Irish reading
Developing literacy skills is a challenge for language learners across all levels. In Ireland, the first official language is Irish, a language which uses the same alphabetic system as English. However, the different sound-symbol correspondences between the two languages have proven to be a challenge for English-speaking learners of Irish. This can present a problem for children in schools in Ireland who are required to learn to read in both languages, but who evidence difficulty in achieving literacy skills in Irish. Adult ab initio learners of Irish (internationally as well as in Ireland ) also struggle with Irish orthography and experience negative transfer from English.

An EU-funded project, IRISH ORTHOGRAPHY (A psycholinguistic investigation of Irish orthography and reading), consisted of a collaborative study between a linguist and a psychologist. The main aims were to develop a better understanding of the problems encountered among learners acquiring Irish reading skills, and to produce a comprehensive analysis of Irish orthography that can be used in promoting interdisciplinary scientific discourse and pedagogical enhancement.

Researchers initially conducted a needs assessment based on interviews with primary teachers in different school types, as well as other experts. This was followed by a detailed analysis of Irish orthography and a review and evaluation of existing materials. An eye tracking study followed that used a range of Irish texts of varying difficulty to explore Irish reading among bilingual participants with different levels of proficiency in Irish.

Results include an analysis of teachers' perceptions of the challenges they face when teaching Irish reading as well as their approach (published in articles and chapters in national and international publications). A linguistic analysis of Irish spelling patterns in terms of the most frequently used words in children's books was also produced and will be published in 2016. Finally, a manual for teachers and adult learners was developed to address the needs identified by teachers and experts, and this manual is currently being prepared for publication.

Potential impact of the study results will span beyond the educational sphere to include socioeconomic implications, policymaking and civil society.

Related information


Teaching Irish, Irish reading, Irish writing, literacy skills, Irish orthography
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