Teanga sa chistin: A qualitative study of bilingual families, baking bread, and reclaiming Irish in the home

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Despite a political environment that alternates between ambivalence and hostility, Irish-medium education (IME) is an important educational and community resource for the revival and reclamation of Irish language, particularly in the North of Ireland (Ó Baoill, 2007). While enrolment numbers have surged in recent years, an over-reliance on schools to reclaim language can miss community desires for connection and self-determination that are at the core of reclamation efforts (Hornberger, 2008). Here, we re-centre these aims by taking a language reclamation (Leonard, 2019) approach to Irish bilingualism, to consider the possible (dis)connections between home and school for families with children enrolled in IME. First, we discuss the social and political factors that have shaped Irish language learning and use in Belfast. We then describe a study of intergenerational language learning and use that aims to bring the language of school into the home. Six participating families were given ‘baking bundles’ of ingredients to bake bread, an instructional baking video and text-based language supports. Wearing point-of-view cameras, they filmed themselves baking together, and participated in interviews from January 2022 to January 2023. An interaction analysis of the videos (Goodwin, 2018; Jordan & Henderson, 1995) and thematic analysis of recorded interviews (Terry et al., 2017) identified ways in which dominant practices and ideologies associated with school are transformed in bilingual family learning. This study illustrates the importance of connections between school and home learning for reclamation purposes and calls for further research on the learning and use of Irish for strengthening and sustaining relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-200
Number of pages32
JournalTEANGA: The Journal of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
affiliation and financial support from the State is a relatively recent development. For much

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Irish Association for Applied Linguistics. All rights reserved.


  • bilingualism
  • family language policy
  • interaction analysis
  • Irish medium education
  • language reclamation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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