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SpeakGaelic: How new initiatives can get more young people speaking Gaelic

3 mins read

The SpeakGaelic initiative was launched by the Learn Gaelic partnership on the 15th October 2021, and while official figures haven’t yet been released, the initiative seems to be a success, with their social media reaching over two thousand followers.

The initiative was sponsored by the Scottish Government and Bòrd na Gàidhlig as an attempt to make learning Gaelic more accessible.

 As a Gaelic speaker myself, I’m always cautiously excited for new Gaelic initiatives. Will it actually make the language more accessible? Will people be interested and take it up? Will it make a difference? Will it make the language seem as old and non-hip as it is stereotyped as being?

The set up of the initiative instantly makes it more attractive, being completely free, with a TV show hosted by famous Gaelic singer, Joy Dunlop. The TV show teaches Gaelic in a fun modern way, and is accessible on the BBC IPlayer making it easy to watch.

BBC Alba host, Calum MacLean and Gaelic presenter Iain Urchardan are also involved in presenting the project. As well as being accessible on BBC Sounds through BBC Radio nan Gàidheal and having a slick, modern website boasting self-teaching and tutor materials.

The initiative is one of the best that the Gaelic world has seen yet, and has brilliantly capitalised on the influx of learners that the language has seen over the last decade. It is easy to access, and surprisingly modern which does a good job at marketing the language to younger generations. However, it may not be enough to get under 25’s interested.

As a Gaelic speaker, I frequently meet people who tell me how interested they are in learning the language but simply don’t have the time. SpeakGaelic’s half hour long episodes and lesson plans are not all that accessible to busy university students.

The Gaelic world needs to open up to modern trends and technology, for example making quick sixty-second TikToks that students can quickly follow and mindlessly enjoy throughout their day would be far more practical for the student lifestyle. 

While it is a strong effort, there is far more to be done to help the younger generations keep Gaelic alive. The importance of Gaelic has become paramount to many young people, and more needs to be done to keep up the momentum and keep our language alive.

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