Analysis of Bilingual Competence
Language acquisition among young peope in the Gaeltacht.
This study derives from the analysis of the current crisis in the social use of Irish in the Gaeltacht, as described in Staid Reatha na Scoileanna Gaeltachta (2005) and the Comprehensive Linguistic Study of the use of Irish in the Gaeltacht (2007).
This publication presents an in-depth and multifaceted analysis of the linguistic competence in Irish and English of young pupils (7-12 years old) whose home language is exclusively Irish. It is the first comparative bilingual study of its kind in Ireland. The analysis is based on recordings of the speech of 50 pupils in both of their languages (engaged in narration and language tests).
The results indicate a linguistic disadvantage in Irish in the context of the pupils' bilingual ability (i.e. their competence in English significantly surpasses their Irish) and we present recommendations which seek to address this disadvantage in competence and the reduced functionality in Irish. The analysis provides valuable insights into the complexities of the contemporary minority language condition. The recommendations provide a new agenda for parents, teachers, community activists and policy makers.