Since its launch in February 2005, YouTube has changed the way a generation consumes video content, and now it offers new ways to learn languages, including Scottish Gaelic.
There’s a vast and growing amount of material about Scottish Gaelic and in Gàidhlig available on YouTube, which is big enough now to challenge more traditional television, cable and streaming content for viewer’s interest. That material isn’t collated in one place, so you have to search for it, and sometimes it’s hard to find what you need.
In this series of articles, we’ll look at various resources available for Gaelic learners on YouTube. Eventually, ACGA will have links to these resources on its website. (Shockingly, ACGA has only a couple of videos on its YouTube channel. We’ll have to address that as well.)
We’ll start with a resource that the oldest of ACGA’s grey-heads will remember, but many younger members may not know: The 1979 BBC Gaelic-learning program “Can Seo.”
Can Seo is a 20-episode Gaelic course for beginners that was broadcast in 1979, accompanied by a book and audio and videotapes. At the time ACGA was formed in the 1980s, Can Seo was the latest (really the only) multimedia course available. Distribution and use of the videos was tightly controlled by the BBC (unlike the book and cassette tapes, the videos weren’t available for purchase).
ACGA was licensed at the time to use a limited set of the videos in study groups. Thirty-five years later, all 20 episodes of Can Seo are available on YouTube. You can find them by searching for Can Seo. Much has changed in Gaelic education in 40 years, and there are more recent learning programs, such as Speaking our Language, available, but Can Seo’s lessons are still valuable, not only for the Gaelic content, but its views of life back in 1979!
Critics of Gaelic-medium education often decry it as serving “the middle class,” but the headteacher of Glasgow Gaelic School/Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu says that’s not true.
In a recent article in Scotland’s The Herald newspaper, Donalda McComb, said 15 percent of the Gaelic-medium school’s pupils come from neighborhoods classed as the poorest in Scotland, though 17 percent come from wealthy neighborhoods.
“Some 19 per cent of our school population are eligible for free school meals and every year that is increasing,” McComb told The Herald. “By now we should be over the perception of Gaelic as for middle class families. … “We encourage all families from the local area and beyond so that parents know what is ahead and it is unfair if people still see us like that.”
The school, which had 33 pupils when it was established in 2006, now has 343 students.
One of the benefits of membership in ACGA is our quarterly bilingual e-zine, An Naidheachd Againne. It is often the only connection that geographically isolated members have with ACGA and Scottish Gaelic. We hope that you enjoy reading it as much as the editorial team enjoys putting it together for you.
If An Naidheachd Againne is something that you consider worthwhile, we wonder if you would consider joining our volunteer editorial team. Gaelic is not a requirement in order for you to volunteer your help.
We are looking for volunteers for the following positions to supplement the current editorial team. Please note that we work cooperatively so that no one person is left with too much of the work.
Must be able to work carefully according to our guidelines to proofread content for spelling, typographical and formatting errors. No particular computer skills required beyond a general ability with Word, Apache Open Office or Pages.
A willingness to join the ACGA forum, where discussion about the current issue takes place.
Availability in the two weeks before publication (not necessarily for every issue). Publication dates are March 15, June 15, September 15 and December 15.
Someone willing to shadow the current content editors for the next few issues to acquaint themselves with our process and be ready to take on the job of content editor for one issue per year. We currently have 3 editors who take turns being content editor. Work on a particular issue begins approximately a month after the publication of the previous issue (March 15, June 15, September 15, December 15)
A willingness to join the ACGA forum, where discussion about the current issue takes place
Content editors are the “shepherds” who co-ordinate an issue by:
Deciding with the other editors on a lead article and contacting potential authors.
Contributing ideas for other articles / content of a particular issue and contacting authors.
Keeping track of article submissions and deadlines.
Co-ordinating the proofreading schedule.
Should have experience with Microsoft Word and Publisher, especially with creating and using styles.
A sense of design is helpful.
Expectation of doing one issue per year and taking over at some point.
Availability at least 2 weeks prior to publication (March 15, June 15, September 15, December 15).
Youth organization and charity Young Scot wants to interest more young people in learning and using Scottish Gaelic. The group launched a national campaign last month that will provide a variety of services, resources and information online in Gaelic on topics from managing money to puberty.
“We know developing language skills is a great way to strengthen career prospects available to Scotland’s young people,” Ruairidh Hamilton, Gaelic Development Officer at Young Scott, said in a statement.
“This project is a really exciting way for Young Scot to give Gaelic speakers the resources that they need and to showcase the benefits of adopting the Gaelic language in everyday life,” he said. “We want young people to have easy access to advice and support that can help them achieve their future ambitions.”
The group, which has 675,000 members aged 11 to 26 in Scotland, has published information in Gaelic on several topics on its website, including a “Simple Guide to Learning Gaelic” and a section on “Cothroman Gàidhlig: Gàidhlig Opportunities.” It also offers discounts on books and travel and rewards for completing activities, such as writing a biography in Gaelic.
There’s growing demand for opportunities to learn and use Gaelic among young Scots, said the organization. Young Scot also wants to encourage members to pursue career opportunities through Gaelic. A 2014 survey estimated the Gaelic language is worth almost £150 million to the Scottish economy and offers career prospects in industries ranging from tourism to education.
The national campaign was launched at the Young Scot head office in Edinburgh, where first-time speakers and young Gaelic enthusiasts took part in an interactive Q&A with a panel that included representatives from the Scottish Parliament. The event highlighted the benefits of young people learning the historic and culturally rich language in the modern world.
Scottish Gaelic Studies in the United States takes a leap forward with the appointment of Dr. Tiber Falzett to the first Scottish Heritage USA Scottish Gaelic Visiting Lectureship at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
The first lectureship of its kind in the United States is the result of a two-year campaign by the Scottish Gaelic Foundation of the USA / Urras Gàidhlig nan Stàitean Aonaichte.
The organization, also known as Gaelic USA, is a 501c3 tax exempt public charity working to reclaim and revitalize the language and heritage of the Scottish Highlands in America, and to build bridges between communities of all sorts, including organizations promoting Scottish Gaelic on a grass-roots level and academia.
“‘S e euchd mhór agus dhoirbh a bh’ ann gu toirt gu buil, ach se comharra dòchais is cliù a th’ ann aig an aon am a thaobh àrdachadh agus leasachadh na Gàidhlig aig ìre oifigeil anns na Stàitean,” Michael Newton, the secretary of Gaelic USA, said in a statement. (“This is a great accomplishment that was difficult to bring to fruition, and it is a mark of hope and respect at the same time for the elevation and development of Gàidhlig at an official level in the United States” — ed.).
Newton also thanked An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach / The American Scottish Gaelic Society for its financial assistance in establishing Gaelic USA.
Last July, Scottish Heritage USA, a separate organization, agreed to fund the entire amount necessary to support the 2018-19 visiting lectureship, the first position of its kind in an American university. “The Carolinas were home to the largest Gaelic-speaking communities outside of Scotland for generations and people of Highland ancestry still make up a large segment of the region’s population,” Rev. Dr. Douglas Kelly, president of Scottish Heritage USA, said at the time. “This is an ideal time to foster scholarship about the Gaelic legacy of the Carolinas and North America as a whole in the academy.”
Falzett is a fluent Scottish Gaelic speaker, as well as a singer and bagpiper. He has performed in a range of venues, from village halls to national broadcast media, in Scotland and Canada. He is a sessional lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, where he has just finished teaching “Introduction to Folklore” and “Scottish Heritage and Culture.”
He also held a previous lecturer appointment in the Department of Celtic Studies, St. Francis Xavier University, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where he taught courses on the folklore and ethnology of the Gaelic communities of Scotland, Ireland and Canada, as well as Scottish Gaelic.
For the past three years, Falzett’s research has focused on the legacy of the Scottish Gaelic immigrant community on Prince Edward Island. His goal is to create models for re-engaging this community with its cultural heritage at a grass-roots level using archived recordings of some of the last Scottish Gaelic tradition-bearers recorded by his doctoral supervisor, Dr. John Shaw, as well as the late Professor Gordon MacLennan.
A fluent Scottish Gaelic speaker as well as a singer and bagpiper, Falzett has presented and performed in a range of venues, from village halls to national broadcast media, in Scotland and Canada. As an active folklorist and musician, he especially values opportunities to share the Scottish Gaelic language and its music with others. He believes that language and music have the power to break down barriers and bring people together.
At the University of North Carolina, Falzett will begin the visiting lectureship by teaching two folklore classes through the English Department using Scottish Gaelic content material. Gaelic USA is planning events throughout the year to promote the lectureship.
For more on the lectureship and Gaelic USA’s plans for Scottish Gaelic Studies in the United States, visit the group’s website: gaelicusa.org.
To Falzett, Gaelic USA and the University of North Carolina, mealaibh ur naidheachd.
— Liam Ó Caiside, with thanks to Tiber Falzett, Michael Newton and Gaelic USA for use of the photograph and other information.