Gaelic in modern Scotland
Gaelic in modern Scotland

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Gaelic in modern Scotland


Modern Scotland is a multi-lingual country. Gaelic, Scots and English, along with newer introductions from Europe and beyond, all influence the way Scotland’s people now speak to each other and to the rest of the world.

Created with the positive encouragement of Bòrd na Gàidhlig and with support from BBC Alba, this course – available in both Gaelic and English – has been designed to provide a resource for people with a personal or professional interest in increasing their knowledge and understanding of the development and impact of Scottish Gaelic and its culture. It aims to surprise and challenge where necessary; to provide links and ideas for further research; and, for some, to kick-start a journey into learning a language which is integral to Scotland’s national identity.

The course is made up of seven sections which can be studied in sequence or individually. This course is also available on our OpenLearn Works [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] website, where you can download and customise these materials to use in your own teaching or staff development.


  1. Gaelic as a national language of Scotland
    • Here you will learn how Gaelic sits alongside Scots and English as one of Scotland’s national languages. For example, by exploring the origin of place-names, you will learn about the influence of Gaelic right across Scotland.
  2. Celtic roots and international reach
    • This section provides an introduction to the origins and Celtic roots of Gaelic and its close linguistic relations including Irish and Manx. You will also hear and see how emigration from Scotland took Gaelic to the Americas and how there are now learners of Gaelic across the world.
  3. Gaelic in the modern era
    • Provides an up to date picture of who is speaking Gaelic now. It will help you understand the reasons for the decline in the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland in the 20th century and the work currently being done by government, educational institutions and independent agencies to support and grow Gaelic language acquisition. There are links here to where to go if you decide you want to take your study of Gaelic further.
  4. Gaelic – the rationale
    • Asks you to consider the value of bi-lingualism/multi-lingualism to individuals and society. It draws on the example of New Zealand to explore how other countries have sought to protect and celebrate the contribution of their indigenous minority languages.
  5. How the Gaelic language works
    • Hear Gaelic spoken and practice for yourself. Audio resources will give you an insight into how Gaelic spelling, grammar and pronunciation work.
  6. Gaelic culture: a national asset
    • Lots of pictures, clips and links to people, places and events will help you learn how Gaelic language and culture continue to make a significant contribution to Scotland’s literature, visual arts, music, dance and sporting life.
  7. FAQs
    • A list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for people who need quick and easy access to the facts and figures concerning Gaelic

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