Meet the refugee pupil excelling in Gaelic at school

The story of a young Syrian refugee has gone viral after a photo was posted of him with a Gaelic certificate

Henry Hepburn

Meet the refugee pupil excelling in Gaelic at school

A Syrian refugee who is now a pupil at primary school in Scotland's Western Isles has gone viral after impressing with his progress in learning Gaelic.

Abdullah Al Nakeeb and his brother Majd have been awarded certificates for Gaelic language excellence at Stornoway Primary, four years after arriving on the Isle of Lewis.

His achievement first came to widespread attention after a neighbour published a picture of Abdullah with his certificate, which has so far been "liked" nearly 21,000 times on Twitter.

Now, in a short film for BBC Scotland's The Nine news programme last night, Abullah's story of impressive linguistic progress since arriving in the Outer Hebrides has reached an even wider audience.

He explains that he struggled to understand people speaking English when he arrived in Scotland four years ago, but now speaks English, Gaelic, Arabic, French and "a wee bit of Mandarin".


Research: How a Gaelic education brings bilingual benefits

Future of Gaelic: Gaelic education detractors 'like bad 1970s comedians'

World Refugee Day: Schools urged to tell the Glasgow Girls' story

From the Tes archive: Syrian refugees' experiences in the UK in 2016 

Languages: New drive to bring Arabic into Scottish schools

The Western Isles e-Sgoil and Covid: 5 essential lessons from our 'e-school'


The posts on Twitter have been inundated with positive responses about Abdullah, and also his two brothers. 

One read: "What an incredible boy knowing 4 languages and learning a 5th at the age of 10! Inspiring for those like myself who are so much older and don’t know as many languages as Abdullah does!"

Another read: "We’re so lucky to have Abdullah and his family here in Scotland. We gain so much when we welcome others."

And another Twitter user posted: "Good lads... I wish they taught other languages when I was at primary school."

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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