Cànan - Language


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Our latest newsletter (PDF)
Winter 2017-2018


 Annual Report 2017/187

Aithisg Bhliadhnail | Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Report 2017/18







Gaelic organisations

Bòrd na Gàidhlig

To ensure a sustainable future for the Gaelic language and culture in Scotland.



Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig -.

 They are charged with co-ordinating the production and the distribution of curriculum resources for Gaelic education.



MG Alba

The remit of MG ALBA (the operating name of Seirbheis nam Meadhanan Gàidhlig or Gaelic Media Service) under the Communications Act 2003 is to ensure that high quality television programmes in Gaelic are made available to persons in Scotland.



Comunn na Gàidhlig -

“Ranging from international to community level, CnaG strengthens Gaelic in each area.”

They do this by organising different schemes (Graduate Placement Scheme, Student Placements Scheme, etc), youth camps, events etc.



Clì Gàidhlig

It's the main aim of CLI to help and support adult Gaelic learners to achieve oral fluency in the language.  To realise this aim, they may produce new learning materials, train tutors and act as an information service to the public to increase awareness and demand for the language.



An Comunn Gàidhealach

To support the language, culture and history of the Gael at local, national and international levels - The Royal National Mòd and the various local Mòds are their main projects.



Comann nam Pàrant

Comann nam Pàrant, or “Parents Organisation” represents the interest of parents whose children are educated through the medium of Gaelic at the various levels, from pre-school to secondary level.



Fèisean nan Gàidheal

It is a membership organisation that offers a range of services to its members including grant-aid, training, insurance, and instrument loans.


Increasing the use of Gaelic in the Home

For various reasons some parents do not decide to make Gaelic the language of the home until one of the children is of an age to attend nursery or even to start school. Often parents will enrol the child in Gaelic medium education and on seeing how effortlessly the child is acquiring Gaelic may be encouraged to consider making Gaelic the language of the home. 

If the language bond between parent and child is established in English it can be difficult to change but although you cannot suddenly stop speaking English you can increase the amount of Gaelic you use which will benefit your child enormously. The family could decide that they’ll try to speak Gaelic at certain times, for example, at mealtimes or bedtime. Thereafter this could increase by degrees as parents become more confident. 

Whatever decision is made it is important that both parents support it. It is advisable also to discuss the matter with the children if they are old enough to understand. After that the family must regard it as a process which will be implemented by degrees and come to an arrangement about the targets which they think they could attain. 

My child refuses to use her Gaelic. When she is spoken to in Gaelic she responds in English. How should we deal with this?

Even in Gaelic speaking homes, sometimes one child persists in speaking English. This may not last long and the parents may manage to persuade her back to speaking Gaelic, but there are instances where the refusal may last a long time. This issue has to be treated with sensitivity. There is no point in attempting to compel such children to speak Gaelic: that will only strengthen the resistance but gentle persuasion and asking them to repeat themselves in Gaelic is advisable. There will be a reason for the insistence on speaking English; the child herself may not understand why. Possible causes are: asserting her independence as a result of being overshadowed by an older brother or sister; rebellion because of too frequent correction of errors in her Gaelic; association of Gaelic with criticism and English with fun; embarrassment about being spoken to in Gaelic in the presence of her English speaking friends.

It is easy for parents to be worn down by this resistance and resort to English but you should try not to let it happen. You should continue speaking in Gaelic and even if your child replies in English his / her understanding of Gaelic is improving all the time.

My child speaks a mixture of Gaelic and English. What should I do about it?

Children who are exposed to two or more languages may take some time before they learn to distinguish between them and during this transition period it is not unusual for them to have a mixture of languages in one sentence. There is little to be gained by criticising or correcting children at this stage and overcorrecting may even impede their language development and result in a reluctance to engage in conversation. Note the English words and phrases they tend to use and incorporate the Gaelic equivalent into your own speech and make sure that you avoid using a mixture of Gaelic and English. 

One Gaelic-speaking parent

t is important that both parents are supportive of the children’s Gaelic and ideally the Gaelic speaking parent should only speak Gaelic to the children and spend as much time as possible with them. The non-Gaelic speaking parent can show their support by showing a positive attitude to the use of Gaelic at home, watching Gaelic television programmes and listening to Gaelic radio. If possible, the parent with no Gaelic could start to learn and gradually increase the amount of Gaelic they use with their child and partner. A good idea is to set Gaelic language times when the children are with both parents. The time designated for Gaelic could be increased by degrees.

I am a Gaelic speaker and when we have children I would like to speak to them in Gaelic. My partner however has very little Gaelic and thinks that he will feel excluded if I am speaking a language to the children that he does not understand.

It is important that you and your partner have an open and frank discussion and possibly even write down the advantages and disadvantages of raising your family with more than one language. Try to consider what is in the best interests of the children and your partner may be able to put aside his concerns in favour of the children’s bilingualism.  Provide your partner with materials that will give him information on the advantages of bilingualism. Your partner might think about learning some Gaelic which would enable him to understand at least some of the conversations you will have with your children.

I have will have to leave my children in the care of a childminder who does not speak Gaelic when I go back to work. Will they find it difficult to differentiate between Gaelic and English?

Many working parents will find themselves in a position where they have no option but to leave their children in the care of someone who does not speak Gaelic. If you are consistent about speaking Gaelic to your children they are not likely to have any difficulty differentiating between Gaelic and English. However, children are in the care of an English speaker for eight hours of the day it is probable that their English will be more developed than their Gaelic and they may insist on speaking English to their parents. It is essential that you persist in using Gaelic with them and encourage them to respond in Gaelic but ensure that Gaelic language experience remains a pleasurable one.

No Gaelic-speaking parent

No matter what your ability is in speaking Gaelic the best thing you can do to help your child is to have a positive and supportive attitude towards their use of the language. As well as following advice in the previous section on creating a Gaelic environment in your home, you may also want to encourage your children by learning as much Gaelic as you can and using it with them. Even if you are less fluent than your children it will benefit them if you listen to them read and show an interest in other schoolwork.

My partner and I are both Gaelic learners. We would like to make Gaelic the language of our home, but worry that it would be unnatural to do so as Gaelic is not our first language and there are no Gaelic speakers living near us.

Evidence shows that parents who have learned a second language can raise a family through the medium of that language. If parents speak Gaelic to the children from the beginning, they will not feel after a while that there is anything unnatural about it. Some parents who have learnt Gaelic feel that it is difficult to express affection for their new born baby in Gaelic and it is helpful if they can make contact with other parents who have Gaelic speaking children. Word lists and useful phrases are also available.

Two Gaelic-speaking parents

If you and your partner both speak Gaelic you can make Gaelic the language of your home. This way you can raise children with Gaelic as their first language. It is also important that Gaelic is the language that you use between yourselves as children will also acquire language from listening to the conversations around about them. If at all possible try to encourage children to play with other children of their own age whose home language is Gaelic.

We speak only Gaelic to our children but are worried that they will not have a good command of English.

There is no need to be worried. They will not be able to avoid a majority language such as English which they will inevitably be exposed to through television, radio, friends and the wider community. 

I have decided to speak Gaelic all the time to my children. What should I do when a visitor arrives who does not speak Gaelic?

The fact that you are conversing with a visitor in English should not deter you from continuing to use Gaelic with your children. You should explain to visitors how important this is and there should be no reason for them to feel offended. You should not prevent them addressing your children in English or any other language.

My child’s Gaelic seems to have deteriorated since she started school although she is in Gaelic medium education. Why is this and what should we do?

Only a small percentage of children in Gaelic medium education have Gaelic as their home language. This means that the majority of children will be learning Gaelic in the first years of their education and your child is likely to pick up expressions and habits of speech from these children. This is a natural part of the language acquisition process. Children whose home language is Gaelic often use two types of Gaelic at this stage, one type when they are with their parents and another when they are at school conversing with their teacher and peers. You may want to speak to your child’s teacher to ascertain that his / her needs within the class as a fluent speaker are being met. It is quite probable that the language of the playground will be English and your child will naturally want to use English as well. The situation will improve as the other children in school become more fluent and provided that you continue to use Gaelic with your child in the home this will be a temporary phase. Your child is still benefiting from a Gaelic education and their Gaelic would certainly have deteriorated more if they were in English medium education.



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