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There are many reasons why parents make the decision to speak Irish in their family- cultural, educational or identity. Whatever the reason, there are many advantages to this decision.

  1. Advantages of thinking: a) Creative thinking:
    • a)A bilingual child will have two words or more for every item and every idea. A bilingual person has the ability to think in a more flexible and versatile way. Research shows that bilingual people are more fluent in their answers to open-ended questions.
    • b) IQ Tests: International research shows that bilingual people receive a higher IQ that monolingual people that are similar to them, (gender, race and age). Learning to read bilingually at the age of 4-6 has significant advantages over monolinguals.
  2. Curricular achievement: On average, bilingual children do better in exams than monolingual children. Bilinguals are more creative in their thinking which enhances their performance in the overall curriculum. This certainly stems from the advantages referred to above in 1.a.
  3. Learning a third language: It is easier for bilingual children to learn a third or more languages than a monolinguals.
  4. Mathematics: International research and the University of Limerick shows that people have a greater mathematical ability if they have a greater level of bilingualism.
  5. Pleasure from reading and writing: if someone speaks two languages, they are able to draw on two bodies of literature, tradition and habits. It introduces two cultures and two perspectives on life.
  6. Employment: According to the 2011 Republic of Ireland Census, the unemployment rates for everyday Irish speakers, male and female respectively, were 19.3 and 10.8 per cent compared to 22.3 and 15 per cent for the general population. This shows that bilinguals have an added linguistic skill in the job market. Irish speakers are needed in all parts of the economy- retail, services, transport, administration, translation, media, secretarial, marketing, sales, law, teaching and more.
  7. Communication: When parents have different languages, children who learn both languages have the advantage of using either of their parents’ preferred language. This helps to foster a special relationship with both parents and ensures that the child gets a sense of the heritage of both parents.
  8. Self-esteem and certainty of identity: Children who are bilingual have a greater sense of self-esteem and the ability to speak and knowledge of Irish enhances a child’s identity. The language is a matter of pride and is a sign that the child is part of an Irish community.
  9. Value of other languages and cultures: a broader cultural experience and knowledge of cultural differences comes with having two languages. The average bilingual person has the confidence to enjoy and enrich other languages and cultures.
  10. Health: In addition to the mental, social and economic advantages mentioned above, there are health benefits to bilingualism.
    • a) Children with autism learn how to think faster. There are different types of autism and, in some cases, the children are able to become fluent easily in other languages.
    • b) Bilingualism delays the development of dementia. It is reported that some social workers advise parents that bilingualism is detrimental to children with special needs. This advice is without evidence and parents who have been told this are advised to contact Glór na nGael so that they can make an informed decision.