Abu Dhabi Irish school offers Gaelic classes to expat children

Published:  23 Sep at 6 PM
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An innovative new school in Abu Dhabi is aimed at teaching Irish to the children of expats from the Emerald Isle.

The unique Gaeliscoil Irish-language school exists to teach the children of Irish expats working on contract in the UAE, in the hope that its pupils will stay in touch with their heritage and history through the beauty of the ancient language. Started with just three pupils, the school now teaches 30 children and is planning a registration day in the capital in order to encourage more enrolments.

Teacher Elis Ni Raghallaigh told local media the school is managed along the lines of the Republic of Ireland’s government’s 20 year plan to ensure the multi-lingual ability of its young citizens. In the island’s more remote districts, most mature residents learned Gaelic from birth, but the international nature of work has meant many expat Irish children have lost the opportunity to become fluent in their native tongue.

At the same time, expat parents living in Dubai are requesting improved teaching of Arabic for their children. Although local private schools do teach the language to foreign pupils, parents feel the methods used are not getting the required results. Children attend many hours of Arabic lessons each week, by most are still finding difficulty in writing and speaking.

One father concerned about his daughter’s progress told the press she can read fluently, but is unable to speak with confidence. English is the unofficial language of the UAE with its 100-plus nationalities, and is the ‘bridge tongue’ which brings the business community together. Arabic, it seems, isn’t considered as important.

Another student at a British school in Abu Dhabi feels teachers should concentrate more on reading and speaking, not just on writing the Arabic script. According to his mother, schools now have different syllabuses for non-native and native Arabic-speakers. She has now signed up her son for extra Arabic classes as she feels it’s important he should be able to communicate in the language.
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