Dr Ingeborg Birnie



Personal statement

I joined the School of Education in September 2017 as a lecturer in Gaelic. I completed my PhD, "Gàidhlig ga bruidhinn an seo? - Linguistic practices and language management initiatives in Stornoway, the Western Isles of Scotland at the University of Aberdeen. This PhD was fully funded by Soillse and aimed to evaluate the linguistic practices of a community with a large percentage of Gaelic / English bilinguals, with a particular focus on the public domain and how the statutory language management initiatives of public organisations, created under the provisions of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. This study adopted a multimodal approach, including ethnographic observations of linguistic practices in the public domain to provide an evaluation of the overall level of Gaelic language use in the community, as well as  language use diary-interviews with individual Gaelic / English bilinguals to assess the ideologies driving the practice and how these influence the de facto language policy.

I am the co-chair of the Scottish Council of Deans of Education Languages group which has representatives of all initial teacher education institutions in Scotland.

I was a member of the Council of Europe's European Centre of Modern Languages Expert Group on early language learning, working with an international team on a three-year project entitled 'Inspiring language learning and teaching in the early years - why it matters and what it looks like for children 3 - 12'. I am registered with the General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS) and have experience of teaching across all sectors from nursery to tertiary education.


Linking plurilingualism principles to language teachers' classroom practices : understanding, enacting and reflecting
Huang Alan, McPake Joanna, Birnie Inge
European Conference on Educational Research (2019)
Gaelic language in public domains
Birnie Inge
Gaelic in Contemporary Scotland (2018) (2018)
National Framework for Languages
Birnie Inge
Gaelic Language Plan Implementation Assessment Cycle 6 : Final Report to Bòrd na Gàidhlig
Dombrowski L, Birnie I, Chalmers D, Danson M, Jones K, Danson E
Buaidh leasachaidhean cànain air reat crìonadh na Gàidhlig
Birnie Inge
Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig 2014 (2014)

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Professional activities

Cuimhnichibh oirnn - remember us
5% de chòmhraidhean ann am Barraigh sa Ghàidhlig
A' cleachdadh cànan ann an coimhearsnachdan nan Eilean Siar
Globalising Sociolinguistics
Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig

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Enacting Plurilingualism: Exploring teachers’ perspectives on the classroom realisation of languages education principles
McPake, Joanna (Principal Investigator) Huang, Alan (Principal Investigator) Birnie, Ingeborg (Principal Investigator)
The principal research questions this study sets out to answer are:
1. How do newly qualified and more established languages teachers link the principles set out in the National Framework for Languages to current and / or future classroom practices?
2. What kind of professional education do they consider most valuable in developing the competences they need to do this effectively?
20-Jan-2018 - 19-Jan-2018
Potential for use of language observation
Birnie, Ingeborg (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2019
Inspiring Language Learning and Teaching in the Early Years - Why it matters and what it looks like for Children age 3 - 12
Birnie, Ingeborg (Co-investigator)
With over 40 official languages in the member states of the Council of Europe and more than 70 regional and minority languages officially recognized in addition to a number of languages spoken by migrants, it is important that Europe’s language diversity is recognized and acknowledged.

The reality for many European citizens is that in the course of their lives they will need to develop proficiency, not only in their native language, but in a variety of languages. Demands of study, work, travel, relocation and personal development will also mean that skills in new languages will need to be added to their existing repertoire. Therefore, learning the skills required to learn languages is of paramount importance. Furthermore, language learning and identity construction are closely interlinked.

Recognizing the importance of languages in the lives of Europeans and the benefits that early language learning provides, the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) has launched a two-year project "Inspiring language learning and teaching in the early years – Why it matters and what it looks like for children age 3-12".

The project is focused on early language learning, from 3 to 12 years of age. The innate curiosity and enthusiasm that children bring to learning during this initial period in their formal education makes it the ideal time to introduce, nurture and motivate learners in the area of additional language learning. Strong foundations, built at this stage in children’s development, will facilitate language learning throughout life and openness to, as well as respect for different cultures, values and traditions.

One of the aims of the project is to help those working with young learners to embrace their own plurilingualism and to recognize the potential for further learning that this can bring. With this recognition, teachers and educators can begin to understand the importance of linguistic interdependency, where knowledge of one language can be used to inform the learning of another. In this way, each child´s unique language potential can be included to support his/her educational development and may also contribute to social cohesion in multilingual/multicultural environments, not only in the classroom, but also in wider society. For this reason, another aim of the project is to provide teachers and educators with resources they can use to support plurilingualism in their classrooms. Useful activities and examples of good practice will be made available in the form of a new website.
01-Jan-2017 - 31-Jan-2019

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