Language course paves way for Gaelic-medium

27th May 2011 at 01:00
Bord na Gaidhlig pilot sets out to plug gap in teaching skills

Teachers from across Scotland embarked on a pilot language course this week, aimed at preparing them to make the switch from mainstream to Gaelic-medium teaching.

The four-day intensive course, organised and financed by Bord na Gaidhlig, was designed by Glasgow University around the language and grammar teachers would need in the classroom.

It marks the latest move in the effort to plug the shortage of teachers in Gaelic-medium education, particularly in the secondary sector.

The course focused on spoken language but also aimed to familiarise teachers with the terminology and support structures available in Gaelic education, such as the An Seotal website, which contains subject- specific vocabulary.

The 11 participants had been recommended by their local authorities as already having some knowledge of Gaelic and being interested in developing it to a level where they could use it to teach their subjects. More than 40 secondaries in Scotland teach Gaelic in some form, but recruiting staff with dual qualifications is notoriously difficult.

Morna Macleod, teacher recruitment officer at Bord na Gaidhlig, said Gaelic-medium teaching at secondary level was an area with huge scope for expansion.

The course had been developed because there were teachers in Scotland with some knowledge of the language, but they lacked the confidence to teach their subject in it. The organisers were surprised by the number of teachers expressing an interest in the course, which had exceeded the number of places available, she said.

Dr Sheila Kidd, a lecturer at Glasgow University who helped deliver the course, said confidence-boosting had been its main goal. "Some of them are more than ready - I hope they realise that after this."

Kirsteen McLennan, a music teacher from Dingwall Academy, took the course to renew her fluency. She told TESS: "Presently, there are only three teachers at the school who teach their subjects through the medium of Gaelic. I am hoping the course will give me the confidence to teach my own subject in Gaelic."

Chris Pendergas, a technology teacher at Cleveden Secondary in Glasgow, said his confidence had been boosted. "Even a couple of weeks ago, I might have been a bit hesitant to speak to a Gaelic speaker, but even after a few days I feel much better about it," he said.

Bord na Gaidhlig hopes that those who complete this course will move on to Streap, a CPD course aimed at improving language proficiency even further. "We expect them to make a further effort to move into Gaelic medium teaching," said Miss Macleod. "Some will be ready to move into the classroom straight away, others will move on to further courses."

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