The part which Gaelic plays in home life can have a great influence on a child’s attitude to Gaelic and on his or her ability to get the best from Gaelic medium education. It is important that the children hear Gaelic outside school and do not regard it as a language that they can only use in the classroom.
The re-establishment of Gaelic as a ‘mother tongue’ and the crucial role Gaelic use within the family have to the revival of the language is now widely recognised. All parents using Gaelic within the home deserve encouragement and support.
Creating a Gaelic environment
Although not every family will be able to raise their children totally through the medium of Gaelic any family can create a positive attitude to the language within their family situation and provide, to some degree a Gaelic environment within their home.
Let children hear as much Gaelic as possible by:
- making use of Gaelic television and radio programmes
- listening to Gaelic music
- accessing Gaelic websites
- encouraging Gaelic speaking friends and relations to speak the language in your home
Make Gaelic visible in your home by:
- making use of Gaelic books
- displaying Gaelic posters and signage
Whatever your own ability in Gaelic make as much use of the language with your child from as earlier an age as possible. Once you become accustomed to speaking in a particular language it is difficult to reverse this. It is therefore easier to establish the habit of speaking Gaelic in the family by speaking to the children in Gaelic from the beginning.
Why should we bother with Gaelic at home if they are being taught the language in school?
The home environment has a crucial role to play in every child’s education, reinforcing work done in the school. Using Gaelic at home enables children to acquire many valuable aspects of language skills which may not be part of formal education.
Is there any difference between the language usage of the first child in the family and the rest of the children?
By the time the second child is born the language usage of the family has usually been established and if the eldest child is accustomed to conversing with his parents in Gaelic then the rest of the family will probably do likewise. The language usage of the second child is influenced just as much by his elder brother or sister as it is by his parents, if the eldest child is used to speaking English with his peers he will very likely want to speak English to his younger brothers and sisters. It is therefore important that when a new baby arrives in the family that parents encourage the other children to use Gaelic with the baby.