A new project aimed at revitalising Gaelic language for lapsed speakers, as well as encouraging new learners, has received cross-party plaudits from MSPs from the Scottish Parliament.
The new project, called SpeakGaelic, is a collaborative effort between MG ALBA, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the BBC that aims ‘to transform the uptake and usage of Gaelic by providing a clear, comprehensive and integrated structure for Gaelic language learning.’
Learners have the option to be taught through a SpeakGaelic course, self-guided through a dedicated SpeakGaelic website, learn through BBC ALBA and BBC Radio nan Gàidheal media content, and also benefit from SpeakGaelic social media.
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron, a long-time advocate for the promotion and preservation of Gaelic language, has welcomed SpeakGaelic by tabling a Parliamentary motion.
Donald Cameron MSP said: “I welcome the fact that MG ALBA, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the BBC have come together to deliver a game-changing learning tool that doesn’t just help new learners of Gaelic language, but lapsed learners too.
“I believe passionately in promoting Gaelic language as it is a key part of our cultural identity, and I believe that SpeakGaelic will play a major role increasing the number of Gaelic speakers going forward”.
Iseabail Mactaggart, Chair of the SpeakGaelic project board, said: ‘The excitement and anticipation felt as we launched SpeakGaelic demonstrates the need for this new, wide-ranging approach to learning Gaelic. The comprehensive nature of the learning materials means there really is something for everyone, and the user can choose the best way for them to achieve their SpeakGaelic goals. We welcome the support of the Scottish Parliament members through this motion and look forward to encouraging any members who wish to start their SpeakGaelic journey.’
Marsaili MacLeod, SpeakGaelic Board Member and Director of Studies at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for the Gaelic language and Culture, said:“Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is delighted to be providing the learning materials for such an accessible, multiplatform resource as SpeakGaelic, taking Gaelic learners on their own personal journey to becoming confident Gaelic speakers.
“Community learning is at the heart of our mission as a national centre, and we look forward to providing face-to-face SpeakGaelic classes, available via www.smo.uhi.ac.uk.
“We are immensely proud of Joy Dunlop and Calum Maclean, two Sabhal Mòr Ostaig graduates, who will be presenting this pioneering project and helping shape a new generation of Gaelic speakers.”
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig lecturer and BBC Radio nan Gàidheal presenter John Urquhart will also be providing podcast and radio content.
Màrtainn Mac a' Bhàillidh, Adult Learning Manager at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and co-author of the SpeakGaelic and Gaelic Duolingo courses said: "Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Duolingo have raised accessibility and interest in the Gaelic language amongst both language learners in Scotland and the Gaelic diaspora around the world.
"SpeakGaelic is a huge step forward that will help strengthen and expand the current Gaelic learning environment, with a vast array of structured learning resources, which will help new and current learners progress through to fluency."
SpeakGaelic, a partnership between MG ALBA, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the BBC, with funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Scottish Government, offers a comprehensive media approach reflecting the modern digital learning environment.
The flexible course materials for beginners (CEFR level A1 Entry) provide for 13 or 26 weeks of learning, with 1 or 2 lessons of up to two hours per week. There are supporting TV programmes and podcasts from BBC ALBA and a website which can also be used to support study. There will be three further levels of the course to support progression in the language. This course is designed around the CEFR scale, with level A1 Entry now open for applications at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and other community providers.
On Friday, October 15, all of the SpeakGaelic content for beginners at level A1 became available on the SpeakGaelic website, with programmes available simultaneously on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sounds, YouTube and other major audio streaming services.
Face-to-face learning will also be available with local Gaelic classes and tutors adopting SpeakGaelic, catering to those seeking a more structured learning environment with additional media content providing an even more immersive experience.
This multiplatform learning project is being hailed as a game-changer for Gaelic learning, focusing not only on beginners wishing to learn Gaelic but also those who would like to refresh their skills.