Gaelic course for teachers launched

Gaelic language teaching in Scotland's schools is being boosted by a University of Strathclyde training programme.

The Gaelic Immersion for Teachers (GIfT) course - which launched in September - offers qualified teachers who've learned Gaelic to intermediate level the chance to become fluent speakers of the language and learn the specialist skills needed for working in Gaelic medium classrooms.

Intensive course

Nine teachers are immersing themselves in Gaelic for a year in order to become Gaelic medium teachers. They include five primary and four secondary teachers, working up until now in English-medium classrooms in seven of Scotland's local authorities.

Joanna McPake, course director and a reader in Strathclyde's School of Education, said:

We are thrilled to have such a committed group of teachers starting out on GIfT. It's a very intensive course – seven hours of Gaelic a day, no English allowed. By the end, they have to be able to teach any aspect of the curriculum through Gaelic and they have to be able to support pupils to become fully bilingual in Gaelic and English as they progress through school."

Gaelic speakers on the rise

Jointly designed by staff in Strathclyde's School of Education, and the Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh, the course aims to increase the numbers of teachers competent and confident to teach through Gaelic.

Doubling the numbers of children entering Gaelic-medium education is one of the targets of the National Gaelic Language Plan 2012-2017, with demand for Gaelic-speaking teachers therefore on the rise.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig, which funded the design of the course, welcomed the development for Gaelic teacher education in Scotland.

Mary MacMillan, the organisation's Head of Education and Learning, said:

This course is a hugely significant step for Gaelic education – meaning that teachers interested in improving their Gaelic language to the level required to teach through the medium of Gaelic are able to be involved in a programme that will fully prepare them for Gaelic medium education."