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Online Regional Research Conference 2020


10.05 a.m.

'Home Languages Matter'

Narrell Byrne

EAL Coordinator, Mount Sion Secondary School, Waterford

10.30 a.m.

`Tell-a-Tale | Inis Scéal: A Bilingual Oral Narrative Programme to Support Oral Language Development in Linguistically Diverse Junior Infant Classrooms`

Aoife Merrins

Primary Teacher

10.55 a.m.

'Supporting EAL pupils: A Principal's Perspective'

Catriona O Reilly

Principal, Good Counsel GNS, Ferrybank, Waterford

11.20 p.m.


11.35 a.m.

'Creative Language Activities which help to address Trauma'

Marie Delaney

Co-Founder of Trauma Responsive Education

12.00 p.m.

`EAL Students recount their experiences in an Irish secondary school`

Video: Students of Mount Sion (Waterford)

12.15 p.m.

Presentation of Louise Madigan Bursary

Michelle Bolger

Louise Madigan Bursary 2019 recipient

12.25 p.m.

Presentation of Louise Madigan Bursary 2020

12.30 p.m.

Key Note Speaker:

Dr Fiodhna Gardiner Hyland, PhD

Lecturer in language and literacy education at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

‘Linguistic Diversity in Irish Schools’

1.00 p.m.

Conclusion: The Mount Sion Choir

About the Presenters

  'Home Languages Matter'

Narrell Byrne

Dedicated and enthusiastic EAL Coordinator at Mount Sion CBS. Narrell firmly believes that teachers need to ensure every EAL learner feels a sense of belonging, can access the curriculum, and experience success.

She has a keen interest in developing practical guidance, processes, and adaptable resources schools can use to ensure

·       EAL learners feel welcome, safe, secure, and supported

·       Sustainable EAL provision is structured and embedded more effectively

·       Subject teachers are better supported and equipped to support EAL learners. 

Narrell delivers CPD through WTC to help build school and teacher capacity in managing, differentiating, and planning for all EAL learners.

Summary of the Research Papers

To Engage Eal learners with the learning process and help them succeed, we need to welcome all the resources and learning tools they bring to the table- this includes the EAL learner’s HOME LANGUAGE and their HOME LANGUAGE Literacy Skills.

Strategic use of a student’s home language can help English language learning, particularly in understanding grammar concepts, vocabulary, instructions, and in developing teacher- student and student-student relationships.

This workshop explores practical ways that teachers can use Home Languages to support EAL Learners in mainstream classrooms.

v  `Tell-a-Tale | Inis Scéal: A Bilingual Oral Narrative Programme to Support Oral Language Development in Linguistically Diverse Junior Infant Classrooms`

Aoife Merrins


Aoife Merrins is a primary teacher on career break from an urban school in West Dublin. She is currently conducting full-time doctoral research thanks to the DCU-INTO150 PhD scholarship. Her work is concerned with the design, development and delivery of bilingual oral narrative programme Tell-a-Tale | Inis Scéal. Aoife is passionate about oral language development, supporting pupils with EAL, inclusive educational practices and collaborative teaching.

Summary of the Research Papers

Tell-a-Tale | Inis Scéal is a specially developed bilingual oral narrative programme to support pupils’ narrative retell. It was piloted in three junior infant classrooms, with 11 teachers (3 mainstream + 8 support) and 70 pupils (50% EAL speakers). Social constructivism informs teacher professional development for programme delivery (Vygotsky, 1978). Tell-a-Tale | Inis Scéal adopts interactionist and sociocultural views of language acquisition (Bruner, 1983; Vygotsky, 1978). Paper findings include narrative retell outcomes, teacher professional development experiences and English-Irish narrative pedagogy.

v  `Creative language activities to address the effects of trauma in the classroom`

Marie Delaney


Marie Delaney is a teacher, educational psychotherapist, trainer and writer. She has extensive experience of working with students who have been affected by trauma, having taught EFL and trained teachers in many countries. Her publications include ‘Teaching the Unteachable’ (Worth publishing), and  ‘Into the Classroom : SEN ‘ OUP. She is co-author of the British Council Language for Resilience report and training materials on how language enhances the resilience of refugees. She is co-founder of Trauma Responsive Education www.trauma-ed.com

Summary of the Research Papers

Experiencing trauma can affect learning and behaviour in the classroom. Language classrooms offer opportunities for students to explore their feelings, be noticed as individuals and tell their stories in a safe space. This presentation, based on the British Council Language for Resilience research, will briefly explain the effects of trauma on learning and the type of creative arts activities which can be done in an EAL classroom to create this safe space.

v  'Supporting EAL pupils: A Principal's Perspective'

Catriona O Reilly


Catríona is the Principal of Our Lady of Good Counsel GNS, Ferrybank, Waterford. After twelve years working in a large urban school in Co. Kildare, she began teaching in Ferrybank in 1998 and was appointed as principal in 2005. Since that time, the school has seen a steady, upward trend in the number of pupils with EAL needs. Catríona is an active member of the local Principals’ Network and currently serves on the Board of Directors of IPPN. 

Summary of the Research Papers

This presentation is a realistic account of one school’s experience of the challenges that arise in supporting the needs of children who are learning English as an Additional Language. It outlines some of the practical strategies that the school has used to enable these pupils to access the curriculum and the positive impact that having a multi-cultural, multi-lingual school population has had, from the perspective and experience of a school leader.  

Fiodhna Gardiner Hyland

Key Note Speaker

Dr. Fiodhna Gardiner-Hyland is a lecturer in language and literacy education at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.

She holds a PhD in Teacher Education Pedagogy for EFL Literacy Teaching.

Fiodhna's has supervised 120+ undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations in EFL/ESL pedagogy and general language and literacy education and has delivered 85+ national and international presentations and workshops, conference papers and colloquiums.

Her research and presentations focus on interactive reading pedagogy for young ELLs; oral language pedagogy and contexts for developing oral language with young ELLs; contextualising ESL.

Fiodhna is currently involved in collaborative research, focusing on teachers' perceptions of supporting language and literacy development of pupils with EAL in Irish Primary Schools.

She is seconded to the Curriculum Development Unit/Transforming Education through Dialogue Project, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick as Project Leader of TED/EAL across the ‘Oscailt’ schools network in Limerick city.

She is passionate about second language and literacy constructivist, interactive pedagogies and empowering teachers to maximize learning for EAL learners.

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