How do you expose yourself to more Gaelic?

3 Apr

We are now almost 3 months in to learning Gaelic as a family.  My husband and I have covered lots of basic vocabulary and there’s been some grammar thrown in along the way.  We can hold a simple conversation, though we can only meet people once as there’s a limit to how often we can tell them where we’re from and where we live at the moment.  I look forward to the day we can use our Gaelic in a natural setting, and though that seems like a lifetime away I do believe it will happen one day.

There are two important things that I think we need to really help our Gaelic to grow.

  • Firstly, we need to find/make more time to practise with each other rather than cramming the night before.  At the moment we’ve been getting away with it because there’s a limit to the questions we can be asked, but each week that gets harder and harder.
  • Secondly, we need to hear Gaelic spoken fluently, naturally.

Making the time is a matter of prioritising.  In the same way that we can make sure there’s time for Desperate Housewives, we need to make sure we’re giving some time to Gaelic, even if it means “sacrificing” ironing time and having to wear crushed clothes sometimes.  (Oh, the hardship!)  I think I’ll make that suggestion to Gaelic Medium Dad…

It’s hearing natural Gaelic that’s a bit trickier.  As I work at night it’s difficult for us to get out to Gaelic community events, (and I think we’re still at a very self conscious stage so a bit too shy to try it out), so I think we’re going to have to go with BBC Alba at the moment.  My husband happily watched football on BBC Alba this weekend, listening for numbers he could recognise and hearing “An Eaglais Bhreac” (Falkirk) spoken naturally.  However, as great as it is to hear the flow of the language, and to be able to pick out random words, it’s difficult to hold your attention when almost everything is going over your head, so we’ve started watching the children’s programmes.  We can all pick out “Is mise” and “cluich an-diugh” on the Abadas, and learned “ga iarraidh” from Igam Ogam.  I think we’ve found our intellectual level.

Are there any simple programmes you can suggest that we watch?  We’d watch Speaking our Language but we’d need to start at/near the beginning, and sadly, Dotaman is no longer being shown.

In fact, maybe that’s what we need – to get Donnie MacLeod, Anna Murray and Dotaman back on our screens!


7 Responses to “How do you expose yourself to more Gaelic?”

  1. fenifuego April 4, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    In my experience as a language learner and a student of Gaelic, it sounds like you’re doing good. When I study language, I often watch TV, films (captions on) and listen to music in the target language. Books on tape are great, too, especially if you already know the story. I hear they just came out with a Gaelic recording of Peter Rabbit, incidentally. Even if you can’t understand everything, the exposure and learning the flow will help you.

    Have you considered a study vacation? It’s difficult to study language on your own and a week or two with a native-level teacher might help. I can attest to the great teachers at Sabhal Mor Ostaig. They ready helped jump start my Gaelic. Also, they do a lot of oral practice to build your confidence. You can book summer classes a week at a time on their website. Lots of folks go with their families, as well.


    • gaelicmediummum April 4, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

      Thanks! I’d love to go to Sabhal Mor Ostaig but funds don’t allow. There’s a weekend course tied into my tutorial in May but I’d need around £150 to go and I just can’t afford that just now. I’m told the summer courses are great so if we win the lottery in the meantime or have some other windfall then I think we’ll aim to do that. Moran taing.

  2. Steven April 5, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Tha mi ‘n dòchas gum bi na leanas na thaic dhuibh.


  3. alasdairmaccaluim April 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    It’s useful to read lots of Gaelic. You get lots of vocabulary in that way – more than you get through listening to conversation. Have you tried Gaelic’s secret weapon – Wordlink? It links texts in Gaelic up word by word with online dictionaries.

    If you you open wordlink and then paste in the URL of a website in Gaelic , you can then click on words to look them up in a dictionary. Make sure that the dictionary is set to Am Faclair Beag as this works best (it recognises plurals, genitives and all forms of verbs!)

    Here is a link to the Parliament GAelic blog through wordpress and Am Faclair Beag. If it doesn’t work right away, click on a word and then click again and it should come up OK.

  4. alasdairmaccaluim April 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    Here’s a better description of Wordlink that I found:
    WordlinkThis is an international project which is developing ways in which online dictionaries can be used by learners of a language while browsing. It “splits your screen” so the page you’re looking at sits on the left and an online dictionary on the right. It then does some black magic and when you click on a word in the document, it automatically looks it up for you. Really useful for someone learning a language who wants to cut down on the time it takes to look up words. Here’s a link to a sample page – all you have to do is to copy and paste a different URL into the address field to bring up that page.

    • gaelicmediummum April 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

      Thank you so much! I’ll definitely look into that later. Right now I’m meant to be on my way to pick up my kids from my parents’. I’m only a few hours late…


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