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The Union of Students in Ireland today spoke about the importance of bilingualism in children’s education and how parents should consider sending her children to gaelscoils or bilingual schools because bilingual children are better at problem-solving, have greater cultural awareness, and are more resistant to Alzheimer’s.

“The mental gymnastics needed to constantly manage two or more linguistic systems increases cognitive flexibility and makes learning easier.” said Dr. Dora Alexopoulou from the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics in the University of Cambridge.

“Apart from the fact that fluency in our national language is a vibrant expression of our national identity, and preserves the direct descendant of one of the most ancient languages in Europe, dual language immersion provides a unique and powerful opportunity to strengthen children’s highest cognitive brain potentials through deliberate literacy development in two languages and authentic exposure to rich linguistic experiences.” Kevin Donoghue, USI President said, “USI is encouraging parents across Ireland to consider sending their children to a gaelscoil or a bilingual school because research shows that development of literacy in two languages has numerous positive effects for students including increased understanding of maths concepts and problem-solving; resistance to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia; and a greater cultural awareness. We are also calling on the Department of Education to set up more gaelscoileanna across the country to meet the demand of parents wanting to enrol their children in a gaelscoil.”

The earliest written literature in Europe was Classical Greek, eg Homer’s Iliad (8th Century BC). The second was in Latin, eg Virgil’s Aeneid (1st Century BC). The third oldest written literature in Western Europe was in the Irish language. Records of Irish lyric poetry date from 700 AD.

“We believe that all children should have the opportunity to be educated bilingually as there are linguistic, educational, social, cultural and personal development benefits for children.” Julian de Spáinn, spokesperson for Conradh na Gaeilge, said “Gaelscoileanna offer this form of education and we believe that there should be more Gaelscoileanna established to satisfy parent demand for this form of education as there is plenty of evidence that supply is in no way meeting the demand.”


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