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Major language learning initiative SpeakGaelic set to launch

By Alan Beresford

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THE approach to learning Gaelic is set to be transformed when a new comprehensive language learning course, SpeakGaelic, launches this Friday.

Speak Gaelic presenters Joy Dunlop and Calum Maclean. Picture: Alan Peebles
Speak Gaelic presenters Joy Dunlop and Calum Maclean. Picture: Alan Peebles

This multiplatform learning project is being hailed as a game-changer for Gaelic learning, focusing not only on beginners wishing to learn Gaelic but also those who would like to refresh their skills.

On Friday all of the SpeakGaelic content for beginners at level A1 will become available on the SpeakGaelic website, with programmes available simultaneously on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sounds, YouTube and other major audio streaming services.

Programmes will also have linear transmissions on both BBC ALBA and BBC Radio nan Gàidheal with complementary learning materials on SpeakGaelic’s social media pages.

Face-to-face learning will also be available with local Gaelic classes and tutors adopting SpeakGaelic, catering to those seeking a more structured learning environment with additional media content providing an even more immersive experience.

This approach will mean that new and existing Gaelic learners will experience a truly flexible and adaptable personal experience, allowing individuals to learn Gaelic in whatever way suits them best.

SpeakGaelic programmes will be fronted by two Sabhal Mòr Ostaig graduates – BBC weather presenter, musician and programme contributor Joy Dunlop, and outdoors enthusiast and social media star Calum Maclean.

In the studio, Joy will provide helpful language learning information, with viewers able to join other Gaelic learners on their journeys.

She said: "Learning Gaelic has had a huge impact on my life.

"It is central to my career, my friendships and most of the passions in my life.

"SpeakGaelic will give many thousands of people access to learning Gaelic as well as helping those who need a bit more confidence. I am hoping people will embrace the opportunity because you never know where Gaelic may take you!"

Calum Maclean will present SpeakGaelic's out-and-about features while also fronting additional social media content.

He is known to social media regulars for his outdoors content (including his unforgettable ‘midge challenge’), and in BBC ALBA’s Dhan Uisge, he showcases his passion for wild swimming in the seas, lochs and rivers around Scotland.

BBC Radio nan Gàidheal presenter John Urquhart will provide podcast and radio content.

Coinneach Macleod (47) from Glasgow, better known as the 'Hebridean Baker' for his videos that share Scottish inspired recipes and stories of island life, has signed up to SpeakGaelic. He was born and brought up in a Gaelic speaking household on the Isle of Lewis.

SpeakGaelic, a partnership between MG ALBA, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the BBC, with funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Scottish Government, offers a comprehensive media approach reflecting the modern digital learning environment.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville commented: “I am delighted that the Scottish Government has a key role in supporting the launch of SpeakGaelic.

"This is an initiative which will transform Gaelic learning by creating new opportunities to learn the language. I am confident that SpeakGaelic will attract new people to the language and also increase Gaelic use in communities.

“The Scottish Government would like to commend all those who have been working together as part of this innovative media partnership.”

SpeakGaelic will initially launch with level A1, aimed at those new to the language, followed by A2 in early 2022. The project will also expand to attract lapsed or less confident Gaelic speakers, defined on the learning scale as B1 and B2, later in 2022 and 2023.

Sign up for more information today at www.speakgaelic.scot or follow the SpeakGaelic social media pages @SpeakGaelic.

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