The most important way to ensure the sustainabliity of a language is to speak it in the home. This is particularily so in the case of a minority language such as Irish. However language acquisition is a social activity, within the family of course but also within the community. Evidence is available, and indeed research currently being undertaken in the Gaeltacht is showing tha the community is as important or even more important in the language development of young people than the family environment.

Because current lifestyles often limit the amount of time parents spend with their children in comparison with previous generations, parents cannot ensure to the same extent as in the past the development of the communicative and other language skills of their children in the home language. If the community language is not the same language as that in the home, and in particular if the community language is the dominent language in the society as a whole it means that the children often spend more time in situations where the community language is spoken rather than in situations where the home or minority language is the norm. As a result the children often become, over time, more fluent and comfortable in the majority language than in their native language.

This means that in order to ensure that a minority language is transmitted from generation to generation a broader community of speakers must exist, a community where the speakers of the minority language live in proximity and where the institutions of society in areas such as education, recreation and employment function in the minority language and apply policies which support the maintenance of that language thus allowing the community to live fully through it’s language.

The Fondúireacht would be interested studying a housing project for Irish speakers who wish raise their children through Irish and live in an Irish-speaking environment whether in the Gaeltacht or outside of the Gaeltacht.


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