The Princess is terrified of going to her Irish language school in September. She is excited about moving to Ireland, being closer to her relatives and having a house with a garden but the prospect of school is hanging over her like a dark cloud. Any conversation about moving to Ireland ends with her in tears saying she can’t speak any Irish.
We have begun introducing her to the odd Irish word, though, unfortunately, this isn’t fooling her into thinking that she has an excellent command of the language. I think that it will be easier for her to pick up Irish because she already speaks two languages but I’m not the one who will have to face a classroom of strangers and interact with them in a foreign language. When not in the company of her parents, the Princess is, I think, a great conformist and she is concerned that she won’t be able to follow the teacher’s instructions. However, she can now say “ciúnas!” with great authority. I have emphasised that this will stand her in good stead as my memory of primary school is that this was the command most used by teachers and the one that they were most anxious to see obeyed.
I assume that it is progress of a sort that this morning she uttered her first trilingual sentence: Can I have a cáca milis in my boîte à tartines, please?
Interesting times ahead, I daresay.
Maybe you should ease up on emphasising the Irish language aspect to her new school? In the average Irish gaelscoil, 90% of the children starting in infants will be anglophone, and close to 100% will speak English either as a first or second language. Whatever the school’s aim is with regard to timelines for achieving fluency, it will be taught more or less as a second language initially, (if they want the five year olds to understand anything they are being told!) so the Princess should not fear being misunderstood or being different from the other children. I doubt if much Irish will be spoken in the school yard for the first few years. In actual fact, as she is already bilingual, she will have a headstart in acquiring a new language and no doubt, will be ordering you all around, as gaeilge, in no time! If you don’t make a big deal of it, she’ll just view it as just another new subject to learn, rather than something in which she is lacking.