Gaelic media are key to both supporting Gaelic learners and initiating Gaelic learning, according to new research.

The research conducted by Meriel Young Consulting and commissioned jointly by MG ALBA and Bòrd na Gàidhlig, found that nine out of ten Gaelic learners are watching BBC ALBA and almost half of those motivated to learn Gaelic, credited their enthusiasm to Gaelic media.

The research is published as MG ALBA’s Chair, Maggie Cunningham, from Scalpay, confirmed the urgency of the organisation’s efforts to develop new language learning resources for Gaelic learners, and the imperative of further engagement with young Gaelic speakers.

“This research gives MG ALBA the evidence needed to progress the development of new learning content, as promised in our strategy document Lèirsinn 2021. The research is complete, we have carried out an audit of current learning resources, and we are now ready to create a new multiplatform language learning resource across LearnGaelic, BBC ALBA, Radio nan Gàidheal, social media and other platforms in partnership with the BBC and others. The new operational licence for the BBC published last week by Ofcom reaffirms the importance of this content for BBC ALBA. We know the BBC will support us given their commitment to Learning, and the vital role of Gaelic media in facilitating that."

Allan Macdonald, from Eriskay who is Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said of the research findings: “Bòrd na Gàidhlig works closely with MG ALBA across a number of different areas in relation to Gaelic development and the results of this survey serve to emphasise the importance of BBC ALBA and indeed BBC Radio nan Gàidheal to the long-term future and well-being of the Gaelic language and culture.

Attracting people to learn the Gaelic language and supporting them to do so is critical to building a secure future for the language and needs continued investment to enable the production of new content for broadcast and the resources that support learning.” 

Ms Cunningham also highlighted MG ALBA’s efforts around targeting younger people, including the positive start to its comedy writing initiative: “Younger audiences are vital to the future of Gaelic and we need to ensure we are delivering compelling, bold Gaelic content for them, on the platforms they are watching.

"We are therefore commissioning ambitious content that will work for both BBC ALBA and for digital. New research shows this audience’s desire particularly for drama and comedy and we’re delighted that our new partnership with BBC Writersroom Scotland for Gaelic sketch writing has drawn over 50 submissions from writers and writing teams. This is a phenomenal result – and is on a par with major UK-wide schemes.

"The Scottish government’s recent announcement of £50,000 to develop Gaelic drama writing talent is enormously welcome as we continue to invest in the ability to tell our own stories on screen.”

Ms Cunningham said: “Gaelic is fighting for its survival. Major interventions are needed and we ask communities, institutions and bodies throughout Scotland to work together to increase access to Gaelic learning opportunities. We need Gaelic speakers and learners to raise their voices and we appeal to everyone in Scotland and across the UK to see Gaelic as precious to them and to the nation, not just as a cultural asset but a vibrant part of a modern diverse society”.

Meriel Young Consulting's report is available at http://www.mgalba.com/downloads/reports/aithisg-meriel-young-2017.pdf

The research aim was to gain an understanding of the relationship between Gaelic digital media content and Gaelic language skills and it involved 1109 online surveys and five focus groups.