University staff encouraged to learn Gaelic with new toolkit

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University of the Highlands and Islands employees Marjory Johnston and Brian Boag are just some of the staff members who will use the new toolkit to help them learn Gaelic

Staff at the University of the Highlands and Islands are being encouraged to learn Gaelic with a new online toolkit. Launched today, the interactive resource will be available to employees around the partnership, who are based everywhere from Shetland to Dunoon and from Lewis to Moray. It includes audio files, animations, puzzles and word lists to help staff learn to read, write and speak the language.

The university, which offers Gaelic courses through Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI on Skye and Lews Castle College UHI on the Isle of Lewis, received funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig's Gaelic language act implementation fund to develop the resource. It was then produced by Skye-based company Cànan. Scottish National Heritage, the Forestry Commission and CalMac are just some of the organisations to have worked with Cànan to develop their own, tailored toolkits.

University of the Highlands and Islands staff are already encouraged to learn Gaelic as part of their professional development plans and those based in Inverness have the opportunity to attend a weekly conversation class. The university was the first Scottish higher education institution to produce and implement a Gaelic Language Plan, a Scottish Government requirement for all public sector organisations.

Alasdair Allan, minister for learning, science and Scotland’s languages, said: “I am pleased to see UHI joining other organisations across Scotland in providing staff the opportunity to gain some experience in the Gaelic language. It is important that bodies are able to interact with the Gaelic communities that they serve and this will enable UHI to do this and help ensure a vibrant future for the language.”

Brian Boag, subject network leader for arts and social science at the university and a Gaelic learner, said: “As a fairly new learner, I find the toolkit concept to be really helpful, accessible and enjoyable - it certainly keeps me engaged.”

Bòrd na Gàidhlig chief executive John Angus Mackay, said: “The University of the Highlands and Islands has a significant role to play in encouraging the learning and use of the Gaelic language on an everyday basis. In language learning a range of resources are needed and it is very encouraging to see this toolkit coming on-stream. UHI is to be congratulated on this initiative to complement existing resources and we hope that staff in institutions across the network will use them to enhance Gaelic language learning.”


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Susan Szymborski
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