Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

This week I am doing a course in Scottish Gaelic songs with Mary Ann Kennedy at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. This is my third visit to the college and each time my Gaelic gets a bit better. Even though I’m not doing a course in Gaelic language, I have opportunities to speak Gaelic with other students and with members of staff, and occasionally even with local people, and this really helps me to improve my speaking and listening abilities.

There are fourteen of us in the class from various countries, including Scotland, Ireland, Austria, the USA, Canada and Japan, so I have some opportunities to use my other languages. There’s one lad who’s fluent in Gaelic, and quite a few of the others have studied it at least a little, though I think I’m the only other who’s conversational in the language. The teaching is in English with only odd bits here and there in Gaelic. There are no other courses in the main college this week but there is a Gaelic language course running at Flodigarry (Flòdaigearraidh) in the north end of the island – we are in the south, and we will meet those students at a cèilidh on Thursday night.

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This entry was posted in English, Language, Language learning, Scottish Gaelic.

2 Responses to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

  1. Matthew Roy says:

    That sounds like a great environment to improve. I randomly bumped into a German speaker at the beach in Santa Barbara and (thanks to their patience) had a great time piecing together a conversation.

    How is the state of the language in Scotland? I’ve heard that it’s on the fringe as far as survival goes, but it seems a bit encouraging to hear of international students in that program.

  2. Simon says:

    In some areas Gaelic is still strong and widely spoken, particularly in the Western Isles. There are also communities of Gaelic speakers growing up around Gaelic medium schools in cities like Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness. Many young people from the Western Isles go away for college and university and to find work, as there aren’t many jobs in the islands. Some will continue to speak Gaelic, but many won’t, especially if their friends don’t speak the language.

    Sabahl Mòr Ostaig is really helping to encourage people to learn and speak Gaelic, especially in Skye. They have connections with the local community and there are many events throughout the year in the college at which Gaelic is used and which are attended by students, staff and local people.

    Gaelic-medium education is becoming increasingly popular and there is a shortage of Gaelic-speaking teachers, so there are jobs available for people who do degrees at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, if they’re willing to become teachers.