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The aim of this paper is to reflect in broad terms on issues which arose in the context of an early years language planning project in Irish-medium preschools (naíonraí) in the Irish-speaking (Gaeltacht) areas of the west of Ireland. Borradh Language Planning Project was commissioned in 2009 to provide guidance and planning templates for early years educators to develop the Irish language competency of children in their early years groups. Due to the changing language ecology of the Gaeltacht areas, many families now raise their children through both Irish and English and children enter the early years services with differing Irish language competency levels. Three phases of the project were developed and evaluated and a high level of satisfaction was recorded with the planning templates and guidance provided. The final project report was delivered in 2015. Of particular interest in the findings is the data on educators’ views on child agency and language use and their implementation of preschool-home links. These issues will be discussed in the light of the professionalization of the early years sector in Ireland; professional development opportunities and policy initiatives in both early years education and Gaeltacht education. Finally tensions between competing discourses in language and education pedagogies will be recognised and the importance of shaping approaches to meet sector specific needs acknowledged.
Mhic Mhathuna, Maire & Kelleher, Cathy (2017)Reflections on a Language Planning Project in Context, An Leanbh Óg, Vol. 11, September 2017