YouTube nan Gaidheal #1: Can Seo

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!

— Liam Ó Caiside