In the today’s world, Bilingualism is becoming more common, “It is estimated that 50% of the entire world is, under certain definitions, bilingual.” (OneHourTranslation, 10/03/2012). Due to this massive percentage Multiculturalism has become wider spread.
Multiculturalism is “a situation in which all the diverse cultural or racial groups in a society have equal rights and opportunities, and none is ignored or regarded as unimportant.” (Collins English dictionary). Forms of multiculturalism are more profound due to the impact from bilinguals. When learning a language, the cultural and social aspects are said to be needed to pass as a native. Taking an example of a family with parents from two different countries and/or culture, their child is said to be multicultural as they would be raised and grow up around two different languages and two diverse cultural norms, or even a mixture of the two. Those children are often raised as bilinguals as both parents would like to pass on their own mother tongue.
For many families raising their children to be bilingual is extremely important, even if they weren’t born in their own country. “For some parents, passing on their native language isn’t about heritage or academics it’s simply a matter of survival.” (“Learning languages: Why bilingual kids are smarter” The Irish Times, Peter McGuire,27. Mar.2018). For those children and family, bilingualism is a key aspect of their lives, studies do show that bilingual children do struggle at first since English is thought as their second language. According to the Millennium Cohort study, children from multicultural/multilinguistic background struggle in education from years 2-5 but once they hit ages of 7, 8, 9 they begin to excel and outperform their monolingual peers.
(“10 amazing benefits of being bilingual, Chontelle Bonfiglio. Bilingualkidspot, May 23, 2017). Multiculturalism can only help countries in many ways, most importantly it can benefit that country in which they are living and the country whose culture is being spread internationally. In some countries, a language could be a minority compared to others. In Ireland Polish, French and Romanian are the three most spoken foreign languages at 138,8965, 54,948, 36,683 respectively. Those people who speak those languages mentioned would more than likely have English as their second language to survive in Ireland too. So those bilinguals are supporting their mother tongue outside of its country of origin as well as using another language daily.
In recent times increasingly, refugees are fleeing to Ireland due to war, persecution, etc. These people relocate to Ireland and begin to build a new life, whilst doing so they bring their language, culture, norms, religion the whole lot and they subconsciously form a multicultural environment. With an increase in multicultural families, there is more demand for multilingual classrooms, many of these children migrating to Ireland or coming as asylum seekers do not have English as their first language, how do we aid these children through their education? Like Gaelscoileanna are immersion schools the way forward for language learning?In Ireland there are 270 primary schools, 215 of those are Irish immersion schools i.e. Gaelscoileanna. There are 66 secondary schools in Ireland of those 22 are Irish immersion. A Gaelscoil is “is an Irish medium school” (Sans agent definitions) in these school’s students are taught through Irish and Irish only.
It has been proven that this method is effective for students learning Irish and has produced many Bilingual Irish-English speakers, so can this method be applied to schools using various languages? Can multilingual classrooms work in Ireland? St. Kilian’s has taken the first step in a two-language school. Located in Clonskeagh Co. Dublin St Kilian’s is a school for pupils aged 4-18 whom of which are taught in German and Irish. It has also excelled in students leaving with a prominent level of both German and Irish as second and third languages. (www.
kilians.com). With clear results from both Gaelscoils and Deutsche Schule Dublin, multilingual classrooms should be beneficial especially for bilingual children learning English as a second language. If some classes in primary schools and even secondary schools are made available for children who move to Ireland without English where they learn English from the basics through immersion yet still guiding them through their own mother tongue, less and fewer children would fall behind their monolingual peers.