Why Gaelic

The Course includes a Why Gaelic? activity which gets students thinking about why they should be learning and teaching Gaelic.

Gaelic is a beautiful and vibrant language which has a rich heritage and is fully able to embrace the modern world. Bilingualism is the norm rather than the exception in many countries and research into bilingual education shows that children with two languages usually do better in school than children who have only one language.

There is information about Gaelic below at the Bòrd na Gàidhlig website.


Go!Gaelic - Why Gaelic?

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Why Gaelic?

In the 11th century, during the reign of Malcolm Canmore (Malcolm III), Gaelic was the main language of most of Scotland, as evidenced by placenames, and it is an integral part of the history and culture of the country.

For various reasons, numbers have decreased over the centuries, but the 2011 Census showed that the decline has slowed slightly, with an increase in the number of Gaelic speakers under 20 years old. In 2005 the Scottish Parliament passed the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act with the intention of securing the status of Gaelic as an official language of Scotland, commanding equal respect to the English language. Scottish politicians now support the language and the people of Scotland have an increasing appreciation of the value of Gaelic. Many people who have no family link to the language are now learning Gaelic.

Two boys looking at a map of Scotland with Gaelic names

Why should I want to learn Gaelic?

Quite simply, two languages are better than one. Research has shown that, on average, people with two languages possess better cognitive and language skills than those who have only one language. According to a specially commissioned study by researchers from Edinburgh University on Gaelic Medium Education in 2010, not only do GME pupils achieve the same level of attainment as English Medium pupils in the curriculum’s subjects, but they also by P7 surpass their English Medium counterparts when it comes to English and Science.

With two languages, you gain the perspective of the two languages. You can engage with the literature of both languages. You gain the breadth of understanding and the outlooks of two cultures. If you have Gaelic, you are better placed to understand Scotland’s history, heritage and culture. And with two languages, it is usually easier for you to learn other languages, and you will have better reading skills. If you have been immersed in two languages from a young age, research demonstrates that you will be better at multi-tasking than those who have been exposed to only one language.

If you have two languages, you will have improved job prospects. And if you have Gaelic, in Scotland there are a number of different Gaelic careers you can undertake or opportunities for you to use Gaelic in your work. From teaching to crofting, Gaelic is both a language of work and a language that can work for you.

So when it comes to the question, why would you choose Gaelic education or learn Gaelic? It is clear that there are many reasons why and many benefits if you do. With Gaelic and bilingualism come cognitive and cultural benefits, and a greater understanding of other languages, and many, many opportunities.

Illustration: Gaelic News Readers and woman creating collage

Principal Information

Gaelic Education: Building on the successes, addressing the barriers
‘Gaelic-medium Education in Scotland: choice and attainment at the primary and early secondary school stages’ (Aithisg air soirbheachadh ann am Foghlam tron Ghàidhlig) 2010

Gaelic Language Act and Plan

The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 (the Act), passed by the Scottish Parliament, seeks to secure the status of Gaelic as an official language of Scotland commanding equal respect to the English language.

The Act builds on existing measures to support the rights of Gaelic and other minority languages, including: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992); the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1992); Framework Convention of the Protection of National Minorities (1995); and clauses relating to Gaelic in education, media, civil courts and crofting legislation of the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

Among other things, the Act requires Bòrd na Gàidhlig to prepare and submit to the Scottish Ministers a National Gaelic Language Plan.

As such, the National Plan has legal status and is more than a list of corporate priorities.

This Plan meets the Act’s requirement for a revised Plan to be submitted five years after the first and it clearly identifies the main priorities for Gaelic and where available resources should be directed.

The Plan includes proposals for the promotion of strategies for increasing the number able to speak Gaelic, encouraging its use and facilitating access to Gaelic language and culture.

It includes priorities that other bodies and authorities should have regard to in respect of Gaelic matters and the preparation of Gaelic Language Plans.

For more information, visit Portal nam Planaichean.
(From the Bòrd na Gàidhlig website)

Illustration - girl using computer