Learning together

25 Jan

One of the challenges facing us as we enter Gaelic medium education is that we have no Gaelic speakers at home.  Whilst we’ve spoken to some parents of children in the Glasgow Gaelic School who have told us that though they have not learned the language their children are still doing well, we feel it’s important for us all, as a family, to learn as much as we can.

My son is perfectly happy to pick things up, arriving at nursery each day with a list of words he wants to understand – so far he has had a burning desire to learn “please,” “blue,” “toilet” and “sticky” – and is happy to ask when he doesn’t understand.  I am eager to learn, and try to read what I can.  I have located online beginners courses, played the children’s games on the BBC website, signed up for the Gaelic 2012 project and am awaiting the beginning of my distance learning course in about a month.  My one year old daughter will probably find the whole thing easiest of all because she won’t remember a time when there weren’t two languages floating around in her world.

It’s my husband who is going to find the whole thing hardest.

He’s always been very keen on the idea of GME, and says he wants to learn Gaelic but just doesn’t know when he’ll get the time.  Part of me wants to shake him and tell him to make the time, and another part understands that as I work 3 nights a week it will be harder for him to get out to learn it.  I think he would get a lot out of an Ùlpan course but as they generally require 2 nights a week minimum (and course fees), it probably isn’t feasible just now.  To be honest, I think a lot of his reluctance is more to do with being self conscious about using Gaelic in front of anyone else – so he won’t even try the CDs in the car, and I can understand that, but ultimately we all need to get over our nerves if we truly want to learn Gaelic.

So, even though we’re all learning Gaelic in different ways, to help us all get started  I made little cards this afternoon to stick all the way up the stairs so that we can practice numbers on the way up and colours on the way down.  Yes, it’s the frustrated teacher in me (I’m on a career break from primary teaching at the moment and clearly missing it) – everything is colourful and, of course, laminated, but hopefully it will help us start to grasp the basics.

I think we’re also going to start learning a useful phrase or two each week.  We’ve been concentrating on greetings for my son’s nursery so next week we’ll be starting with manners, because no matter where we are, manners are always appreciated.  I like the Highland Council’s Gaelic Toolkit because we can listen to native speakers rather than trying to read phonetics –  so this will be our starting point for next week.

Mas e ur toil e (please), if anyone has any other/better suggestions for how we can learn together then I’d love to hear them.

Mòran taing (many thanks)!


7 Responses to “Learning together”

  1. alasdairmaccaluim January 26, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Listening to BBC Radio nan Gaidheal and watching Alba helps. It will reinforce your formal learning and help you get used to the rhythm of the the language and pick up new words here and there. At first you’ll only understand words like “agus” but after a while you’ll be surpirsed how much you understand.

    The news on RnG is good for formal register Gaelic and Coinneach Mòr and Feasgar are good for more colloquial stuff. I’d avoid Mire ri Mor and Caithream Ciiul however purely on the basis of the appalling music they play : ).

    • gaelicmediummum January 26, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

      Thanks, that’s great advice. I haven’t listened to BBC Radio nan Gaidheal because we don’t often listen to the radio – my children prefer listening to Cars 2 or Alvin & the Chipmunks, sadly. We do try to watch bits of Alba though. My son particularly enjoys things like Charlie is Lola, and Peppa Pig because he can follow the stories. He also likes the Abadas because he can understand the “is mise…” parts of the song, and again – we can watch it in English to help. In fact, by listening to both it’s amazing how quickly you start to get tuned in to what you’re hearing. I think I’ll look up the programme listings for the radio and see if I can plan it into my day.

      I’m also going to have to look up Mire ri Mor and Caithream Ciul just to see what music they play. If I love it I promise I’ll keep it a secret. ;-p

      • alasdairmaccaluim January 26, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

        Cool1 They play traditional music on Mire ri Mor and new age/celtic music on Caithream Ciuil.

      • gaelicmediummum January 26, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

        Well, I could probably listen to it but I perhaps wouldn’t seek it out. I’m off to google it now.


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