How to Learn Gaelic - Tips and Resources
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Congratulations on making an excellent choice! Learning Gaelic is fun and provides a window into a rich and ancient culture.
I get asked questions about learning Gaelic all the time! Here is some guidance to common questions that I am asked:
How to learn Gaelic:
Books(Check The Gaelic Books Council for availability)
- Ceumannan (Stòrlann) - A series of four textbooks. This is a very thorough program designed for secondary schools. Everything is available online if you know where to look (http://www.storlann.co.uk/ceumannan/). Numerous exercises and an audio program. I am migrating towards this program myself from Scottish Gaelic in Twelve Weeks. See the link below under 'Resources (Book)’.
- Colloquial Scottish Gaelic (Katie Graham) - I have the older (2001) version of this book, which is good. I have not seen the newer edition (2014). This program starts with dialogs and uses the speech reveal the grammar. The audio program was a separate purchase for me, making this a very expensive program to buy. I would say that this is a middle of the road approach to phrase-based language and grammar. It is good, but not my favorite.
- Complete Gaelic (Robertson & Taylor) - This is the updated version of 'Teach Yourself Gaelic'. Get the one that comes with CDs if you can [UPDATE: I hear that the version with the CDs is not out of print and out of stock! If you want it, you’ll have to get it used.]. I do not believe the audio program has changed between the older and newer versions. This has a related (GOOD) dictionary called Essential Gaelic Dictionary (formerly, Teach Yourself Gaelic Dictionary) and supplemental audio program called Speak Gaelic with Confidence (formerly, Teach Yourself Gaelic Conversation) The dictionary and supplemental audio program are separate purchases. This uses a phrase based methodology with grammar explanations.
- Scottish Gaelic in Three Months (Hugo) - See Scottish Gaelic in Twelve Weeks. The audio program for this book is ok, but not very complete as the program goes along. Old spelling conventions are used.
- Scottish Gaelic in Twelve Weeks - (Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh and Ian MacAonghuis) This is the updated version of Scottish Gaelic in Three Months, with a new audio program and new spelling conventions. The advantage of this program is that the audio doesn't go into explanations, meaning you can set your player to 'repeat' and drill pronunciation without having to listen to explanations over and over. This book is good as a grammar reference but can be light on explanations or provide too much concise information at crucial moments. I have used this book as a text in my classes for many years.
- Scottish Gaelic (Levels 1-4) by Muriel Fisher - This is the program that I learned from. Muriel Fisher is a native speaker from the Isle of Skye who teaches at the University of Arizona. Her Contact her directly (link below) to purchase her materials. There are 4 Levels of study. Each level has a book and CD set.
- Speaking Our Language (Cànan) - This program at one time included 5 workbooks, 72 television programs and 9 cassette tapes that were all coordinated with each other. The books and the TV programs are still available. TV programs are available now on DVD! YAY! This is one of the programs I use when teaching. Phrase based methodology with some grammar explanations.
- Teach Yourself Gaelic (Robertson & Taylor) - See 'Complete Gaelic'
- Teach Yourself Gaelic (Roderick Mackinnon) - Old version of the book which is excellent for grammar. Uses old spellings. No audio program.
The Zero to Gaelic Master Index (Ted ‘Brian’ Neveln) - This is a chart which lists common Gaelic grammar points, which confound Gaelic learners, and lists where you can look up those topics in common or popular Gaelic textbooks. VERY HELPFUL!
Also, check out the Gaelic Orthographic Conventions PDF under Resources (Books, Apps, etc.) for more information on spelling rules, accents, etc.
- The Gaelic-English Dictionary, by Colin Mark, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-29761-3., has 19 pages of pronunciation guide.
- Blas na Gàidhlig, by Michael Bauer, Akerbeltz, 2011, ISBN 978-1-907165-00-9., is a large volume all about Gaelic pronunciation.
Of course I would recommend learning Gaelic with the help of a teacher, like me! That's why you've found my website or Facebook page! I have classes online via Skype, and at my home. Teachers are essential because they fill in the gaps that textbooks have and provide essential assistance and feedback on pronunciation. For more information, click 'contact me' at the bottom of the page.
But there are many excellent teachers and classes out there. To name a few:
◆ Muriel Fisher - (Tucson, AZ) A native speaker from the Isle of Skye, from whom I learned the Gàidhlig. She teaches private lessons and credit classes at the University of Arizona.
◆ Seumas Gagne - (Seattle, WA) A musician and expert Gaelic language teacher who uses the Language Hunters methodology.
In Seattle, you will want to check out Slighe nan Gaidheal. There are groups people people learning Gàidhlig in Boise, Idaho, and Portland, Oregon, also.
Elsewhere, you will want to use these websites to find local teachers:
◆ An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach (North America) a.k.a. ACGA
◆ Clì Gàidhlig (Scotland)
◆ LearnGaelic.net (Scotland) The 'one-stop shop for learning Gaelic' (online dictionary, excerpts of the Speaking Our Language program and a Gaelic version of Buntús Cainte app)
Courses (In person and distance learning)
◆ University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ, USA - in person)
◆ Slighe nan Gaidheal (Seattle, WA, USA - in person) Gaelic Intensive Days, Feis Seattle
◆ Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (Scotland-Summer Short Courses in person & Distance learning)
◆ Atlantic Gaelic Academy (Canada-Distance learning) a.k.a. AGA
◆ Colaiste na Gàidhlig (Nova Scotia, Canada)
◆ Ùlpan (Scotland-Local classes)
◆ Sgoil Ghàidhlig an Àrd-Bhaile (Nova Scotia, Canada immersion courses-in person) Using Gàidhlig aig Baile methodology.
◆ Daily Gaelic (distance learning)
◆ BBC Alba - (Scotland) Gaelic Television (requires a work around to get a UK IP address)
◆ Radio nan Gàidheal - (Scotland) Gaelic Radio
◆ Radio nan Gàidheal - (Scotland) Gaelic Podcasts the Litir podcasts are particularly useful.
◆ Tobar an Dualchais (oral recordings, including stories, music, poetry and other information)
◆ Bòcan.tv (flash based media, songs, videos (not Safari friendly, navigation kind of persnickety))
Resources (Books, Apps, Online Dictionaries, Blogs and Other Websites)
◆ iGàidhlig (Software in Gàidhlig)
◆ Am Faclair Beag (Online Dictionary)
◆ LearnGaelic.net Dictionary (Online Dictionary)
◆ Faclair Gàidhlig (Online Dictionary)
◆ An Seotal (Online Dictionary)
◆ Gaelic Orthographic Conventions PDF - Scottish Qualifications Authority (Guide to all those pesky rules about spelling, word stress, hyphenations and so on-INVALUABLE)!
◆ Comhairle nan Leabhraichean - The Gaelic Books Council (Scotland - Bookstore)
◆ Ceumannan (A Course for secondary schools - complete with books and audio program)
◆ LearnGaelic.net Beginners' Course (as web page, also available as an iOS app from the iTunes Store)
◆ Akerbeltz.org (Check out 'Fuaimean na Gàidhlig' for the pronunciation guide)
◆ Am Baile - Highland history & culture
◆ Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba - Gaelic Place-Names of Scotland
◆ A Guide to Gaelic Place Names from Ordnance Survey
◆ TurasG - Exploring the Greater Gàidhealtachd (Travel in the Gaeltacht)
◆ Sheena's Garden - Online ebook (flash) that is good for learning numbers
◆ TìrNamBlog - Extensive blog in Gaelic
◆ Guthan nan Eilean - Island Voices (English language blog)
◆ Bòrd na Gàidhlig (Scotland)
◆ Stòras na Gàidhlig (Scotland)
◆ Comhairle na Gàidhlig (Nova Scotia, Canada)
Additions? Any of the links need updating? Please let me know! Geoffrey Sammons geoffrey [at] gaelicseattle [dot] com