Seniors pass on their Gaelic skills to learners

A series of films to help teach Gaelic to children learning it in primary school outwith Gaelic Medium Education has been launched.

Senior pupils at the Nicolson Institute have been helping to pass on their language skills to learners as part of the Go Gaelic initiative.
Senior pupils at the Nicolson Institute have been helping to pass on their language skills to learners as part of the Go Gaelic initiative.

The films star, and were made by, senior school pupils who have come through Gaelic Medium Education and are now passing on their language skills to youngsters who are just beginning to learn it.

The films, made with the support of media professionals, form part of the Go! Gaelic programme, a comprehensive online resource developed by Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig.

There are 20 films in the series, matching the 20 topics in Go! Gaelic, and each of the short films ends with a song.

The films are four minutes long, with drama scripts written by Morag Stewart.

All the melodies were set by popular Lewis singer-songwriter Willie Campbell, and performed by the school pupils themselves.

The new films, complete with songs, were streamed during the Royal National Mod Showcase in the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway.

Appropriately, it was fifth and sixth year pupils from the Nicolson Institute who were involved in filming for the series, in June, at the An Tosgan studios.

The films form part of the second phase of the Go! Gaelic programme, which was launched last year.

Its 20 topics include introductions, the weather, subjects and hobbies — and while each film contextualises a different topic, they are all set in a cafe being run by a student during the summer holidays.

The films aim to build on learning already been done in class and were carefully written to ensure they only used keywords from the Go! Gaelic programme.

They can be viewed online, at, alongside powerpoints and lessons on core language, to help learners get the strongest grasp of key words and phrases.

A Go! Gaelic App has also been developed to complement the programme.

Seven pupils took part altogether, in the making of the films. Three as actors and the rest behind the scenes, with one-to-one support from industry professionals.

Donald MacRitchie, Head of Projects at Stòrlann, said: “These young people were thrown into a professional and intense environment. We couldn’t get over how they handled it. They really did excel. Their attitude towards it all was exemplary.”

Stòrlann also plan to produce a series of books to accompany the films, in order to help support parents with homework.

The books, which will be sent home from school, will be condensed versions of the film scripts.

In line with what already happens in Gaelic Medium Education, there will also be audio versions of the books on the Gaelic4Parents website.

Go! Gaelic is primarily aimed at teachers and pupils in Gaelic learning streams and provides training, support and resources to help teach Gaelic to learners across all stages of primary school.

It is designed to help deliver — by giving teachers the necessary resources — the Scottish Government’s initiative Language Learning in Scotland: a 1 + 2 Approach, which stipulates that all children should have the right to learn a second language from primary five onwards.

Stòrlann chief executive Donald Morrison said Go! Gaelic “fills the gap” between Gaelic and English Medium Education, providing “those outwith Gaelic Medium with the opportunity to engage with Gaelic.”

He added: “It’s extremely rewarding to witness current pupils, who have come through Gaelic Medium, passing on their skills to new or future Gaelic speakers.”

“It is a positive demonstration that the investment made towards raising the numbers of Gaelic speakers is coming to fruition. What we have here has the potential to deliver a significant increase in the level of Gaelic awareness and interest and competence amongst young people in schools and homes across Scotland.”

Funding assistance for Go! Gaelic came from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Scottish Government and the Gaelic Language in the Primary School consortium.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar assisted with the filmmaking by providing preferential studio rates.