While I was in Scotland last week I took part in conversation circles in the evenings after class. Among those attending there were some whose Scottish Gaelic was very fluent, others who struggled to put sentences together, and people like me who are somewhere in between. I could understand almost everything people said and could contribute to the conversation, though tended to make mistakes and mix in bits of Irish when I didn’t know the Scottish Gaelic equivalents. Fortunately this wasn’t a problem as some people there spoke Irish and provided corrections where nessecary.
I’ve never done classes in Scottish Gaelic, but have been learning bits and pieces for many years, and listening to Gaelic radio programmes regularly. I rarely have opportunities to speak the language, so it was very helpful to take part in the conversation circles, and especially to listen to the fluent speakers. When I had conversations with less fluent speakers they were fairly short and simple, and they tended to switch to English after a while. With fluent speakers conversations tended to be much longer and more complex, and they stuck to Gaelic almost all the time, which really encouraged me to do the same.
While my Scottish Gaelic still needs quite a bit of work, I feel a lot more confident about speaking it now and will see about arranging Gaelic conversations on Skype, and to writing more stuff in Gaelic on my other blog.
One thing I still find difficult is understanding the words of songs. If I really concentrate I can understand some of the words, but I have to hear a song many times in order to understand more. It also helps to see the written lyrics. It’s simliar for songs in other languages, especially if the singers slur the words together.
Can you understand songs in languages you’re learning? Do you understand them the first time you hear them, or do you need to hear them many times.