If you are a parent contemplating your child’s future in Gaelic education, a student thinking of taking a course on Gaelic culture, or just curious about the benefits of Gaelic education, there’s plenty of information around to help inform your choices.
You can view a video – Fios is Freagairt – with lots of information about Gaelic medium education, put together by Comann nam Pàrant (Nàiseanta), here.
Research has shown that bilingualism is beneficial for children’s development and their future. Children experiencing new languages become more aware of different cultures, other people and their points of view. They also tend to be better than monolinguals at ‘multitasking’ and focusing attention; they often are more precocious readers, and generally find it easier to learn other languages. Bilingualism gives children much more than two languages.
Children in Gaelic medium education (GME) are fluent in two languages, which offers advantages in learning others. Recent Edinburgh University research shows that children educated through Gaelic are on par with or outperform children educated in English.
Early Years Education in Gaelic is available in many places, with 0-3 provision often run by voluntary community groups, while the 3-5 provision is offered by local authorities. These Pàrant is Pàisde (Parent and Toddler), Cròileagan (Playgroup) and Sgoiltean Àraich (Pre-school) groups offer immersion in Gaelic language from an early age which gives children a good grounding to enable them to progress to Gaelic primary school education.
GME is available in around half of Scotland’s Local Authorities and is seen as one of the most effective ways of achieving fluency. Excellent resources are now being provided by Stòrlann, Acair, Education Scotland and other providers.
Parents often worry about their own lack of ability in Gaelic affecting their child’s education, or their ability to help their child with homework. This need not be a barrier as there are Homework Clubs and excellent online resources to help, as well as advice available from Comunn nam Pàrant. A great many of today’s successful broadcasters, teachers and public sector workers working in Gaelic are testament to the success of GME and many have come from homes where their parents did not speak Gaelic.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) offers separate courses for fluent speakers and learners, with those for fluent speakers entitled ‘Gàidhlig’. SQA’s Gaelic (Learners) and Gàidhlig Courses offer candidates the opportunity to acquire or increase oral fluency and literacy in Gaelic.
There is a growing number of secondary schools where Gaelic medium subjects are available to pupils who have completed their primary education in Gaelic. Having completed 7 years of primary education in Gaelic, children will have achieved fluency in certain situations. Where at all possible, they should continue their Gaelic education throughout secondary to give them the best chance of being fluent enough in the language to cope with a wide variety of situations.