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CEFR Journal - Research and Practice


Volume: CEFR Journal - Research and Practice Volume 3 (
Date: October 20, 2020
Title: Utilising pupils’ plurilingual skills: a whole-school approach to language learning in a linguistically diverse Irish primary school
Page: 98 - 103
Author: Déirdre Kirwan (former principal of Scoil Bhríde Cailíní)
This article is open access and licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license.
Abstract: Since the mid-1990s, schools in many parts of Ireland have experienced an unprecedented increase in the level of linguistic and cultural diversity among pupils. This paper describes an innovative approach to integrated language learning that was developed in a primary school in West Dublin in response to this phenomenon. To ensure inclusion of all pupils and to support them in reaching their full potential, pupils’ plurilingual repertoires are welcomed. Two overarching goals to language teaching and learning inform the whole-school language policy that seeks to: • ensure that all pupils become proficient1 in the language of schooling • exploit the linguistic diversity of the school for the benefit of all pupils (Council of Europe [CoE] 2001: 4; Garcia 2017: 18). Classroom procedures that facilitate inclusion of home languages in curriculum delivery and the needs of pupils who are endeavouring to learn English as an additional language are described. The importance of literacy is highlighted as is teacher, pupil, and parent cooperation. In addition to high levels of achievement in standardised tests of English and Maths, additional outcomes are identified including enhancement of the Irish language, a developing culture of learner autonomy, and the cultivation of pupil confidence and social cohesion.

Keywords: education, social cohesion, learner autonomy, linguistic diversity, inclusive, whole-school approach, plurilingual
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This online toolkit is supported by KAKEN Grant-in-Aid project no. 20K00759, no. 19K00808 and no. 16K02835 and aims to support teachers of all foreign languages in Japan in using the CEFR and CEFR/CV efficiently.