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Saturday Gaelic Club

16 May

Since the end of January we have been attending the Gaelic Club on a Saturday morning in the Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu and I can’t believe that summer (of a sort) is nearly here.  It seems strange to think that in a couple of weeks the club will be over for a few months.  I think it would be difficult to overstate what it has given us as a family – time together working towards a shared goal, learning Gaelic (us through proper lessons, my son through play), making new friends and dipping our toes into our local Gaelic community, and the chance to ride a bike without stabilisers (well, my son has, and perhaps “ride” is a little ambitious).  The club really is a fabulous resource.

I suppose that’s why I was saddened to hear that Glasgow City Council are making it difficult for the club to function to its fullest capacity.  Bear with me here because as I’m new my understanding of the present situation is limited but it appears that Glasgow Life aren’t sure that the club is worth their investment.  Words like “creche” are bandied about, and some staff have gone several months now without payment – yet they are devoted enough to continue to turn up whilst the situation is resolved.  It is no wonder that there is a feeling that the council hope to close the club by extinction methods if they can’t do it outright.  I do appreciate that running the club requires a lot of funding from the council but losing the club would, I believe, be a big mistake.  I wonder if they’ve thought about what they’d put in its place to further the learning of Gaelic by families in Glasgow.  I doubt it.

A group of parents hope to meet to look at the club and consider how to ensure it stays alive for a long time to come.  It’s easy to fear that this is the first nail in its coffin and yet I choose to look at such a discussion as positive.  I hope that the idea is to look at ways to build on the club’s current successes and make it clear to the council that it is still a vibrant, necessary part of Glasgow city life – whether that be by restructuring the organisation a little, making some additions or even coming to the conclusion that the club perfectly fits its purpose as it is at the moment and adding further support to the evidence the council have already been presented with.

I don’t know much about the behind-the-scenes running of the club, though it seems like the bulk of the grunt work falls at just one or maybe two people’s feet.  What I do see is that there could be more families there on a Saturday morning.  Getting families to attend anything is always challenging as you work around shift patterns, clubs & organisations, visiting friends & family, but that’s probably not the only reason.  It might be interesting to find out how people hear about the club – what brought them along in the first place?  I saw details about it on the school website but the language barrier coupled with the information given being old put me off for several months.

I didn’t know:

  • if the club was still running,
  • if you had to have a child in the school/nursery to attend,
  • if you could start at any point in the year or if you needed to start in August,
  • if there was a lower age limit for children, and
  • how much it cost.

Perhaps a first step to redressing this is to think about how the club communicates not only with existing families but also with those who would be interested in coming if only they knew more about it.  Could Facebook & Twitter be used to give more up to date information – maybe even a simple website with information for prospective families?  The second step I would take would be to make it easier to “drop in.”  Obviously this is less of a problem for those who already have a little Gaelic, but it’s harder for new-to-Gaelic families to come along mid term because there’s a sense that they’ll not catch up with the current intake of beginners so it’s better to just wait for the new term.  That does make sense but sometimes it’s more important to strike whilst the iron is hot – to get people through the door whilst they’re motivated and help them to see why it’s important to come back for a proper start in the new term.

Because it is important.  Yes, the children “play” whilst the adults “learn” but it only takes a quick look at the Curriculum for Excellence to realise that learning through play – learning by doing – is how children learn best.  Any parent who has no/little Gaelic and yet who has had to start playing “Dè ‘n uair a tha e, Maighstir Madadh-allaidh” (What’s the time, Mr Wolf) and “tunnag, tunnag, gèadh ” (duck, duck, goose) with their four year old son, or realised that their 24 month old daughter can count to ten in both English and Gaelic will tell you that there is real substance – real value – to the time spent there on a Saturday morning .  It is most definitely not a creche.  I only wish they had a Gaelic play group there for the under 3s (though it hasn’t stopped my daughter!) but then that’s why we need Glasgow City Council to continue supporting its constituents.

So perhaps over the summer we need to take the time to raise awareness of the Saturday Gaelic Club and ensure that it lives to promote the Gaelic language for another year.  You can help with this by sharing the details of the club to spread the word that little bit further.

If you’re interested:

  • it meets on Saturday mornings from 10am till 12pm.
  • I know that several of the families in the same beginners’ class as me have no children in the school or, in some cases, even the nurseries yet (they’re starting young!) so I don’t think you need to feel you have to hold off until your child is five.
  • the last club of this school session is Saturday 26th May – (probably a more informal affair that day.)
  • It costs £5 for a family and £1.50 (I believe) for individual adults.

(I hope all that is correct but if it’s wrong maybe someone could let me know and I’ll update it.)

Who knows?!  Maybe I’ll see one Saturday in the not too distant future…

We got news of our placing request today

28 Apr

…and we got in!  Although we had been pretty confident about that, as the end of April approached I was starting to get a little bit concerned.  So, the Monster is off to visit the school with his nursery on Tuesday. Exciting times!

Now, I really must get my head round the dative case…

First Day Nerves

18 Jan

Sgoil Araich Lyoncross

This week was my son’s first week at his Gaelic nursery and, so far, he loves it.  In fact, I had to drag my screaming child from the room this afternoon because he wanted me to go away for longer and let him stay.  All the way to nursery yesterday he was practising how to tell them his name and then couldn’t resist telling every member of staff who passed him on the way into the room.  “Is mise…”  (Is misha….) the whole way there.  So sweet.  He asked them to remind him how to say good morning – though it was the afternoon – and he was desperate to find out how to say, “please.”  If only he were always so eager at home…

Today was the Chinese New Year themed day so they got Chinese food at snack (apparently the noodles were nippy but the rice was good) and I was able to peek in and see him painting his own Chinese fan.  He was very proud that he can now tell me two colours – dubh (doo) for black, and buidhe (booyuh) for yellow.  He tells me that he is going to be my teacher now.

As for me, so far I’ve chickened out of using the little Gaelic I know.  So, whilst my son gets an A+, I get a definite, “must try harder,” on my report card.

On the plus side, I heard back from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic medium college on the Isle of Skye, and I have got my place on An Cùrsa Inntrigidh – the entry level distance learning course.  Soon enough I’ll get all the information through and I can pick a suitable time to do my telephone tutorial.  I’m very excited!  Maybe then I’ll summon up the courage to speak in his nursery.

Watch this space!

Off to the local sgoil-àraich – Gaelic Nursery School

18 Jan

(Originally posted on Thursday 12th Jan 2012)

Well, the day is drawing near for us to head off to the local Gaelic nursery.  I went in yesterday morning to make sure all the forms were completed, to run through my son’s education plan, and to get our first “settling in” date.  So, assuming we’re all healthy, next Tuesday is our first day.  We go in for half an hour and see how it goes from there.

They were very keen for me to change from 3 afternoons to 5, and reduce his regular morning sessions to 3 instead.  I’m reluctant to do this because my son is well settled in his nursery.  He has friends, he knows the routines and he’s got the support he needs in place there.  After spending 18 months with them, I feel it would be a shame to miss out on the last few months.  Plus, at the moment there’s no guarantee that he’ll get into the Glasgow Gaelic School so I’m loathe to remove him from his current nursery.  We should hopefully know around Easter time so I’ll revisit the issue then.

In the meantime, we’re going back through our Gaelic Nursery Language Links books – written for parents of children in Gaelic nurseries but who have no Gaelic themselves(http://www.gaelicforfun.edin.org/) – and revise some of the phrases he might be hearing.  I’m also going to add the Gaelic numbers (and pronunciation)to his number chart in our playroom.  Together we can practise counting to ten at least.  He’s told me he’s going to teach me…

1 aon

2 dhà

3 trì

4 ceithir

5 còig

6 sia

7 seachd

8 ochd

9 naoi

10 deich

Here goes!

Mar sin leibh!

Gaelic 2012

17 Jan

I don’t know where the time goes.  It seems like only yesterday my oldest child was just a babe in arms, and yet this month I have to register him for school.  How did that happen!?  If you’d asked me 4 years ago how difficult picking a school would be, I would have told you that it wasn’t difficult at all.  Surely they just go to their local school?  But now I’m finding the answer is somewhat different.

As I started to look at all the local schools I came across the Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu – the Glasgow Gaelic School and was intrigued.  If you’ve never come across it before it’s a 3-18 establishment where the children are immersed in Gaelic.  Until mid way through primary 3 they are taught exclusively in Gaelic, and even after that it is the first language of the classroom.  The secondary school is part of the same building and one progresses naturally from the other.  I’d heard about the Gaelic school before in passing but had never really looked into it.  However, the more I read the more I liked.

I liked:

  • that my children would become fluent in another language; something I feel will stand them in good stead for future language learning,
  • that research into bilingualism has shown benefits not just linguistically but socially as children learn to appreciate multiple cultures, and cognitively as they appear to display greater flexibility of thought.
  • that the Gaelic school was considered a good school with good results.  Obviously as they only learn English reading & writing from P3 at that stage they are behind English medium peers, but this gap has generally disappeared by P5, with many GME pupils exceeding their EME peers.
  • that it maintains a part of Scottish culture.  Having grown up being told that my ancestors are from the Isle of Skye I’ve always been interested in that area.

Now obviously I hope that they will have good language skills, appreciate lots of cultures and be able to think flexibly regardless of the school they ultimately go to, but it can’t be a bad thing, can it?

So it’s a done deal, isn’t it?  Clearly it’s a great option and why wouldn’t we send our children there?  Why wouldn’t everyone?

Only it’s not as simple as that.  If we go with the Glasgow Gaelic School we’re signing up to something very different from the education that we experienced.  My husband and I have no Gaelic, and neither does anyone else in our family.  Although over 60% of the families in the Glasgow Gaelic School don’t have Gaelic at home and tell us it’s not absolutely essential, if we are to send our children to this school then it’s only fair to commit to learning what we can of the language ourselves – are we ready for that?

It’s also a decision that attracts a lot of opinions from other people.  Some are simply intrigued.  They’ve looked at the option themselves but don’t feel confident taking the plunge, so are interested in the reasons we think it’s the best option for our family.  Others don’t understand and don’t take the time to find out more.  They just raise their eyebrows and label us “mad.”

I have also had some negative comments.  A group of people I know very strongly said that we should not send our son there.  They were not big fans of the Gaelic school and made that very clear.  It definitely made us go right back to the start and go through all of our options and research again.  We’ve visited the school and raised the issues that had been raised to me, and we were satisfied with the answers and liked what we saw.
We’ve also looked into our hearts and we know that this is what feels right.

So, we’ve bought some bilingual nursery books for our son which he loves and uses the vocabulary randomly.  We play our CD in the car and we’ve also enrolled our son in a local GME nursery starting this month to see how he takes to it before taking the full plunge in August.  I’ve also applied for the distance learning course – An Cùrsa Inntrigidh – from the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye, and signed up with http://www.gaelic2012.org/ to keep in touch with other people who have made the resolution that this year is the year that they will learn Gaelic.

I suppose only time will tell if this is the right decision for us, but for just now we’re going to dive right in and enjoy the ride.

Tìoraidh an-dràsta – bye for now!