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  • Writer's picturecchuttonwriter

Sgoil, School, Schule

It is only the start of the year but already they are asking parents to register their children for primary one classes starting in August.

Talk about being organised. It is a big step in enrolling your child into education. Although most children have been in some sort of pre-school before this.

I don’t talk here much about Gaelic Medium Education. Yet it has influenced my writing greatly. My first book published was for young Gaelic-speaking children and their parents. Since then I have had nine Gaelic children's books published for pre-school up to eight-year-olds depending on their fluency.

My adult English books have also been coloured by my brush with Gaelic. The fictional village of Blàs (meaning warmth) takes its name as many places in Scotland do from the Gaelic language.

Stroma my main character makes her living from Gaelic Development. As for Auntie Lottie where would she be without her tutor work delivering language courses around the Highlands?

One small spark of curiosity has led to my life as an adult being enriched by Gaelic Medium Education (GME). From earning my living and making new friends, developing my language skills then writing books, all from enrolling my firstborn in a local Cròileagan (Gaelic Pre-school Group).

Gaelic for me and mine developed into as much a way of life as a way of educating our children. I still find it easier to talk to younger children in Gaelic than adults. It is the language I use most when around them. I love the way even if they don’t vocalise yet that they just accept all words regardless of the language spoken.

At the moment I await the word seanaidh. One of my grandchildren decided a few years ago that sticking ‘aidh’ on the end of ‘sean’ was preferable to seanmhair and who am I to insist on the difference. After all, you have grandmother and granny in English.

I’ve had ‘suas’ so I know the ‘s’ sound is there. Certainly, the body language is. Up comes the arms, then ‘suas’ as clear as a bell. You don’t have to understand what ‘suas’ means, you don’t need the translation into another language. You can see quite clear from this little person what he wants and what the word means.

Really that is how GME works. You are surrounded by words and actions. You don’t need to be a fluent speaker to enrol your child in GME. You don’t even need to speak it yourself. Gaelic was taken from so many it has to be open to everyone that wants it. It would be better I have no doubt if parents made the effort to learn it though. Think of the confidence it would build in the language. How many more speakers there would be to practice with?

There are many organisations and people out there that can give you statics and advice on GME. However, it is talking with other parents whose children have gone through GME that you will probably find most interesting.

It felt such a big step at the time all these years ago. But it wasn’t. It was made to feel that way by those that didn’t know or indeed understand what Gaelic and its’ language and culture were about.

I listen to adults that have gone through GME and how proud and motivated they are compared with how grateful we were that we had managed to get GME in Scotland. They see it as their right, they give no apologies for learning the language. They don’t worry if it will affect how they learn other languages as they know the benefits of understanding and speaking at least two languages brings.

If you are considering it as was option don’t be afraid to speak to someone who knows. Don’t listen to rumours or negative points of view from people who have never experienced it. I’m not saying that there won’t be issues along the way but you get issues with English Medium Education (EME) as well.

I can’t imagine Gaelic not playing some part in my life or that of my family. I expect it will continue to influence my writing whether it is a few words in my English books or my 100% Gàidhlig children’s books.

I hope anyone enrolling their child this week will at least consider the Gaelic option. I know my children are glad we did. Suas leis a’ Ghàidhlig.

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