Gaelic science in English

29th May 2009 at 01:00
Gaelic-medium science teaching in primary schools often has to rely on English, according to a new report from the Scottish Government

Researchers identified 44 schools in 11 authorities which might be relevant to the survey. However, in some of them, pupils were being taught no science in Gaelic, while in the rest Gaelic was only used some of the time. Among the 35 schools which participated, including 226 pupils at P5 and 179 at P7, it was common for talking and listening to take place in Gaelic, but fewer pupils were reading and writing it.

Teachers were asked about the degree to which Gaelic featured in science lessons. Of the 56 who responded, 58 per cent said pupils always listened to Gaelic, while 48 per cent of pupils always talked in Gaelic. But only 27 per cent always wrote in the language and 18 per cent always read in it. A few never read or wrote in Gaelic. It was possible, but rare, that a pupil might never hear Gaelic in a science lesson.

Pupils sat tests for the survey, and they could use booklets in either English or Gaelic versions. Some 47 per cent of P5s chose English uniquely or predominantly, against 36 per cent choosing Gaelic. The gap was wider at P7, with 53 per cent favouring English against 31 per cent. It was not possible to gauge how much influence teachers had on the decisions.

The 2007 Scottish Survey of Achievement Gaelic-medium Science Survey also found "no evidence" that teaching the subject partially or wholly in Gaelic had any detrimental effect on learning.

Gaelic-medium education in the Western Isles: p12-13.

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