By Liam de Lása
The world of our time is changing dramatically and cultural habits are evolving in society with the wave of these changes. Glór na nGael works with families all over the island to provide them with advice, support and assistance in strengthening the Irish language in the home. It happened this year that we had to be resourceful in how to better serve Irish committees and families. The difficulties of the current global crisis have been discussed in some detail but with the advent of the virus came a number of opportunities for Irish speakers far and wide.
These changes are affecting Irish culture and it is good to normalize bilingualism as is the case in other countries. I spent many summers living in places around the world. Wherever I set foot there was one common feature that I immediately noticed. The naturalness and normality of bilingualism in other countries was relative to our own culture. No one has ever apologized to me for speaking their own language or a foreign language in my company.
Human habits change after a while and Rosann Henry, a parent of two children with Irish in Kilkenny City, feels that people are very sympathetic to the language and that people are praised when they hear Irish spoken in the company of English speakers.
“I don’t really try to change my language habits in a certain society when I’m just talking to my own children.”
This approach not only helps their own children but also positively attracts the attention of others. “It stimulates a person’s curiosity when we hear their language spoken naturally and not make a big deal out of it”
Recent research shows us that children accept habits in their own environment. They are greatly influenced by their own peers as they age but accept what is accepted in society. This is a great reason not to apologize for speaking Irish in the company of people who are not fluent in Irish. There is nothing wrong with speaking English when necessary but difficulties are created when the child is informed that Irish is an exceptional thing.
One of the main goals of the Home Language is to create public opportunities for families to speak the language. The scheme supports the efforts of parents at home and takes the language out of the school grounds to public places where people can hear the language as a normal part of everyday life. In fact, the cultures of tomorrow depend on the will of the family to promote the language.