Tell-a-Tale | Inis Scéal – Embracing Bilingualism and Plurilingualism in Junior Infant Classrooms
There are many children in Ireland today who speak a language other than English at home. These children are simultaneously learning two new languages when they start primary school, those being English and Irish, while also further developing their native tongue at home. Research shows that bilingual children can acquire a third language more quickly and efficiently than their monolingual peers. If we apply this knowledge to the Irish context, we can argue that non-native English-speaking children who attend an English-medium school are likely to learn the Irish language more quickly and efficiently than their monolingual English-speaking peers. This supports the rationale for a bilingual English-Irish oral narrative programme in junior infant classrooms that host speakers of languages other than English and Irish.
Tell-a-Tale | Inis Scéal is a bilingual English-Irish oral narrative programme. It aims to support oral narrative language development in junior infant classrooms through dialogic shared reading, interactive language activities and narrative retell tasks. It was initially designed by Aoife Merrins-Gallagher, primary teacher and PhD scholar at Dublin City University, and it was further developed in consultation with eleven primary teachers (mainstream and support) earlier this year. Having been theoretically design, and practically developed, Tell-a-Tale | Inis Scéal is now a fun, user-friendly and inclusive programme that can be implemented in linguistically diverse junior infant settings.
A key feature of Tell-a-Tale | Inis Scéal is its integration of children’s native languages. Children who participate in the programme are frequently asked for vocabulary and phrases in their native languages that correlate with the stories being read. Traditional tales are focal resources, as their universality increases the likelihood of children having already been exposed to such stories in their native tongue. This PhD research is ongoing, though initial pilot findings have yielded positive effects on children’s narrative language outcomes. You can follow the progress of this research on social media: