Teachers go back to classroom to learn to give lessons in Gaelic

May 27, 2011

Published Date: 26 May 2011  By Fiona MacLeod and Laura Carlin

SOARING demand for children to be taught in Gaelic has led to a pilot scheme to train non-native speakers.

Glasgow alone has seen the number of pupils taught by teachers speaking Gaelic rather than English almost double in less than four years.

Now a pilot scheme at Glasgow University has seen 12 teachers from across Scotland, who normally teach in English, learn how to teach in Gaelic.

The new project is a partnership between Bord na Gaidhlig and Glasgow University.

Each participant, who must have some Gaelic skills, has spent four days being taught how to develop language in the classroom.

Demand for the programme was said to be overwhelming and it is understood the scheme is set to be repeated.

Gilbert MacMillan, from Glasgow University, said: “The course focused on developing general classroom language as well as some language specific to subjects.

“The initial focus was on spoken language so that the teachers would feel confident if they were in a situation where they could use some Gaelic language with their students.”

After successful completion of the course, the candidates can go on to take an online programme, run by Aberdeen University, to boost their Gaelic skills further.

Morna MacLeod, teacher recruitment officer at Bord na Gaidhlig, said: “The week has been a tremendous success.

“Local authorities identified teachers with some Gaelic language who are interested in teaching through the medium of Gaelic.

“It’s a step forward for teachers to have the confidence to use some Gaelic in their current situations and raise the profile of Gaelic in their own schools and subject areas.”

The scheme also has the support of education secretary Mike Russell, also a Gaelic speaker. He described it as “excellent news” for the teaching of the language in Scotland.

He said: “I am particularly pleased to see that demand for the scheme was so high that Bord na Gaidhlig and Glasgow University have created more places on it.

“The Scottish Government is committed to a secure and sustainable future for Gaelic in Scotland, and having more teachers able to teach in this medium will help ensure we can keep Gaelic relevant in a modern Scotland.”

The Scottish Government recently appointed Dr Alasdair Allan as minister for learning and skills, with a responsibility for Gaelic and Scots.

Glasgow City Council expects to have 581 pupils being taught in Gaelic next year – up from 509 this year.

By comparison, in 2007 the city had just 311 pupils being taught in the language.

A council spokeswoman said: “The Glasgow Gaelic School continues to grow each session, enabling more and more young people in the city to access the curriculum through the medium of Gaelic.”

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