My adventures learning Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig)

It was my interest in Irish music that lead me to Scottish Gaelic language and music. After developing a liking for Irish music, I discovered that there were groups such as Capercaillie and Runrig who sang in Scottish Gaelic. I really liked the sound of the language and wanted to learn it, mainly to understand the songs and so that I could learn to sing them.

In 1996 I finally got round to learning some Scottish Gaelic. I used Teach Yourself Gaelic but didn't get very far, mainly due to lack of motivation and dedication. I also spent a couple of weeks exploring the Hebridies hoping to use what little Gaelic I knew. Unfortunately I didn't meet many Gaelic speakers there.

My visits to Glencolmcille in Ireland, where I've studied Irish for a week to two every year since 2005, inspired me to have another go at learning Scottish Gaelic. Since then I've worked my way through Colloquial Scottish Gaelic and Teach Yourself Gaelic, and have also used the Gaelic lessons on the BBC. I'm making much more progress this time and feel much more motivated. When I listen to Radio nan Gàidheal I can get the gist of what they're talking about, though don't understand everything.

I've also started learning songs in Scottish Gaelic. These are songs I've listened many times so I already know the tunes. Learning them is 'simply' a matter a memorising the words, which is both fun and challenging.

In August 2008 I did a course in Gaelic Song with Christine Primrose at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic College on the Isle of Skye. As well as learning more than 30 Gaelic songs, I also tried to speak Gaelic as much as possible. I found that I could converse in the language to some extent, with quite a bit of fumbling around for words, and could understand a lot of what I heard in Gaelic.

In August 2012 I returned to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig for a course in waulking songs (òrain luaidh) mouth music (puirt-à-beul) with Christine Primrose. My spoken Gaelic was also better by then and I was able to have more detailed conversations. While I sometimes mix Scottish Gaelic and Irish, I can usually make myself understood and can understand and read a lot of Scottish Gaelic.

Information about Scottish Gaelic | Phrases | Numbers | Kinship terms | Tower of Babel | Songs | Links | My Gaelic learning experiences | Learning materials

Other languages I've studied

Welsh, French, German, Italian, Icelandic, Japanese, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Korean, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Esperanto, Hungarian, Turkish, Arabic, Czech, Irish (Gaelic), Latin, Manx (Gaelic), Russian, Urdu, British Sign Language (BSL), Hindi, Breton

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