Grammar matters? Teaching Irish as a second language in Ireland

Browne, Elaine (2017). Grammar matters? Teaching Irish as a second language in Ireland. EdD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

This thesis presents a small-scale investigation into practising primary teachers’ perspectives on the role of English grammar in second language teaching in the Irish context where English is the medium of instruction.

A mixed methods approach was employed to investigate whether having a sound knowledge of English grammar might facilitate the teaching of Irish grammar. Teachers’ perspectives on pedagogical practice were gathered via the employment of questionnaires, interviews and observations. Fifteen questionnaire respondents contributed perspectives on learning and teaching English and Irish grammar in the Irish context and three of these provided follow-up interviews and observations.

Applying both thematic and sociocultural theorising enabled understandings to be built within the uniqueness of the Irish teaching context. The findings revealed that a sound knowledge of English grammar supports the learning of grammar in Irish as a second language. While teachers appreciate the importance of knowledge of grammar to teach languages, they do not necessarily have a sound knowledge of grammar in either English or Irish. This limitation in grammar knowledge may impact negatively when teaching Irish as a second language. Based on these findings it is recommended that grammar should hold a more prominent place in the language curriculum and the teaching of grammar should be integrated within the language curriculum for both children in schools and trainee teachers to increase the quality of Irish second language teaching in the Irish context.

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