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Key role for Storlann at national conference on Gaelic in primary schools



The Gaelic educational resources organisation based in Stornoway, Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig, is to play a large part in a national conference taking place today (Friday, March 3), aimed at increasing the amount of Gaelic being taught in primary schools across Scotland.

The Gaelic Learners Practitioners Conference, taking place in Stirling, is aimed at teachers wishing to deliver Gaelic in English Medium Education, or ‘mainstream’.

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney, will be making the keynote address.

The conference, in Stirling Court Hotel, is being attended by more than 80 delegates, including around 50 teachers and some teacher training co-ordinators from across Scotland.

There will also be representation from the Scottish Government, Education Scotland and a number of Gaelic organisations and local authorities such as North Lanarkshire and Glasgow City Council.

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney, said:

I am delighted to have the opportunity to meet practitioners at this week’s Gaelic Learners in the Primary School conference.

The fact that we have over 50 teachers from 22 Local Authorities travelling to the event shows the considerable interest in Gaelic that exists across Scotland.

“We have seen excellent progress with Gaelic language support and development in a number of areas over recent years.

This is particularly true in the areas of education, media and the arts and this is down to the continuing hard work and strong effort of individuals and organisations involved.

I hope that those attending the conference today will benefit from the training on offer and continue to strengthen the language going forward.

For Stòrlann, the event is a great opportunity to raise awareness of its comprehensive educational resource programme, Go! Gaelic.

This is a programme aimed primarily at teachers and pupils in Gaelic learner streams in primary  — not in Gaelic Medium Education — and is a complete package designed to fully equip teachers for teaching some Gaelic to their pupils.

Go! Gaelic is designed to help teachers deliver the Scottish Government’s initiative Language Learning in Scotland: a 1+2 Approach, which opens the way for children in Scottish education to engage with a framework of learning based on the mother tongue plus two additional languages.

There are 20 units on set topics in the Go! Gaelic programme — which can be viewed online at www.go-gaelic.scot — and it comes with a range of resources, including powerpoints, audio files and films.

A Go! Gaelic App has also been developed to complement the programme.

Go! Gaelic is supported by the Scottish Government, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and a growing number of  Local Authorities. Stòrlann Chief Executive Donald W Morrison will be speaking about its importance in boosting the teaching of Gaelic in primary schools when he addresses the conference.

He will tell the delegates that Go! Gaelic — already adopted by The Highland Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar as their “preferred means of delivering Gaelic in 1+2 classroom settings”— is a resource of “great potential”.

He will say it “supports the national ambitions for raising the number of young people using Gaelic in Scotland” and will stress its importance “within the context of Gaelic language development in Scotland”.

Following on from John Swinney’s address, conference delegates will have an opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the Go!Gaelic resource.

First, Storlann’s Head of Projects, Donald J MacRitchie, will be giving an overview of the Go! Gaelic resource and then Storlann’s Go! Gaelic training co-ordinators will take delegates through the first unit of the course, to show how it works in practice.

After giving an overview of the course, DJ MacRitchie will ask the teachers what else they want or need in terms of resources.

“I’m going to ask for feedback and see what teachers come back with,” he said. “All the information that we gather and collate from the conference is valuable. This is a great opportunity to meet so many English medium teachers.”


For more information:

Donald W Morrison, Stòrlann — 01851 700880 dwmorrison@storlann.co.uk
Katie Laing, PR — 07825200110 katielaingmedia@gmail.com


‘Exciting time’ for Gaelic as new phase of teacher training begins

Teachers from the Highlands will be gathering in Plockton tomorrow (Wednesday, February 22) for a training day that marks the beginning of a new phase of Gaelic language learning in primary schools in the region — and indeed Scotland.

Around 25 teachers from 16 schools are expected to take part in this inservice day, being hosted at Plockton High School in Wester Ross.

It is the first training session in an 18-day series to teach them how to use the Go! Gaelic programme of online resources — created by Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig and aimed at enabling primary teachers working in English Medium Education to teach some Gaelic to their classes.

For most of the teachers taking part in the training, the course is also aimed at giving them, personally, enough Gaelic so that they are able to teach it with confidence.

But there will be others attending who already have Gaelic and bespoke workshops are being provided, apparently for the first time,  that take account of their existing knowledge and look at ways in which they can help to bring Gaelic out of the lesson and into the general life of the school.

Go! Gaelic is a vast online suite of sequenced resources designed to support teachers and created by Stòrlann, the Gaelic educational resources organisation based in Stornoway (Isle of Lewis) but with a responsibility to schools teaching Gaelic all over Scotland.

Go! Gaelic does not aim to deliver fluency, unlike Gaelic Medium which is immersive in nature, but is designed as a complete introduction to the language. It is expected to appeal to adult learners as well but its main function is to support Gaelic teaching in English Medium primaries.

It has been designed to fit in with the Scottish Government policy Language Learning in Scotland: a 1 + 2 Approach, which is aimed at ensuring every child has the opportunity to learn an additional language from primary one onwards and a third thereafter.

This policy stipulates that, additionally, every child should have the right to learn a second language from primary one onwards — and the policy aims to be implemented across the country by 2020.

As a language course, the structure of Go! Gaelic has been designed to build on previous learning. And, as a child progresses through it, their successive achievements should match up to the formal list of ‘Experiences and Outcomes’ that a teacher will look for under the different stages of Curriculum for Excellence.

The course, which covers 20 topics including introductions, feelings, weather, pets and hobbies, has also been designed to sit well within the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This is the Europe-wide guide to language learning, setting out what kinds of topics, words and sentence structure should be taught — and with what increasing difficulty — in order to give a learner the best chance of success.

Go! Gaelic has followed this type of progressive model, for example with the Core Language part of the programme and How the Language Works, which explains grammar features such as sentence structure.

The programme, which can be found online at www.go-gaelic.scot, includes a wealth of resources that can be used in the classrooms, from worksheets and Powerpoint presentations to posters, revision cards, planners and more. It also features audio files – songs as well as vocabulary – plus a series of 20 short films, based on the ‘Cafe Lily’ theme and each one matching one of the topics, to reinforce learning in an entertaining way. There is also a Go! Gaelic App available.

]The use of technology has been seen as key to the success of the programme and is one of the reasons Highland Council adopted Go! Gaelic as their preferred method of delivering the language.

Norma Young is Area Care and Learning Manager for Highland Council with responsibility for Gaelic. She confirmed: “We’ve adopted Go! Gaelic as our preferred means of delivering Gaelic to our teachers to enable them in turn to deliver it on a regular basis to their classes.”

Praising the programme’s “interesting and innovative approach”, she said: “We feel that the resources and the approach are modern, new, exciting and will capture the interest of children because children are much more discerning these days.

“They’ve grown up with IT. Images need to be more interesting, brighter and more colourful because that’s what they’re used to. That’s what Go! Gaelic will give them.

“The language is the same. The acquisition of the language is the same. It’s the delivery that’s much more interactive, attractive and meets the needs of modern technology and the way children learn. Children are no longer passive learners — we want them to interact.”

She added: “This is the first tranche of teachers coming through using this method and we are excited about that. The potential is huge and we’re looking to reach greater numbers of teachers, using this method.

“It’s an exciting time for Gaelic. ‘An t-ionnsachadh òg, an t-ionnsachadh bòidheach’ (young learning is beautiful learning).”
Stòrlann chief executive Donald Morrison said Go! Gaelic “fills the gap” between Gaelic and English Medium Education, providing “pupils outwith Gaelic Medium with the opportunity to engage with Gaelic.”

He said it had been structured to provide the ideal base, should a learner want to progress to fluency. “But even if you don’t become fluent it raises your awareness of the relationship between the language and the people, the culture and the place where you live and that serves to provide you with a better understanding of Scotland in general.”

Funding assistance for Go! Gaelic came from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Scottish Government and the Gaelic Language in the Primary School consortium.


Notes for Editors:

This training programme for Go! Gaelic will be split between academic years 2016/17 and 2017/18, with four days training taking place before the summer holidays and the remainder after. It is aimed at teachers with classes from primary one to four. Another Go! Gaelic course will begin in the next academic year, aimed at primary five to seven class teachers. Both courses are aimed at teachers from schools were Gaelic is the official ‘L2’ — the language available to all children in English Medium Education from primary one.

The training is being delivered by Ruairidh Mackay, Gaelic Development Officer 1+2 Languages, Highland Council, and Jackie Mullen, Go! Gaelic consultant trainer for Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig.

This academic session, 2016/17, is the first official year of Go! Gaelic as Highland Council’s preferred methodology and resource package for delivering Gaelic in primary schools outwith Gaelic Medium Education.

The Go! Gaelic programme was launched in September 2015 at the An t-Alltan Gaelic teachers conference and showcased the following month at the Royal National Mod in Oban.

The series of films accompanying the Go! Gaelic programme were launched a year later, at the Gaelic showcase during the Royal National Mod in Stornoway. The films starred and were made by senior pupils from the Nicolson Institute, who had come through Gaelic Medium Education and were, through the films, passing on some of their language skills to new primary school learners.

For more information:

Katie Laing, PR — 07825200110; katielaingmedia@gmail.com / katielaing@storlann.co.uk





A MOTION has been tabled in the Scottish Parliament to congratulate the popular Gaelic4Parents website on its 10th anniversary.

Launched at the Royal National Mod in Dunoon in 2006, the website provides key support for families involved in Gaelic Medium Education (GME) and is run by Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann Nàiseanta Na Gàidhlig.

Angus MacDonald, MSP for Falkirk East and member of the Parliamentary Cross-party group on Gaelic, tabled the motion and said the website provided “an invaluable service to parents and children being taught Gaelic through GME throughout Scotland”.

He also wished “continued success for this fun-filled resource” to the team at Gaelic4Parents and umbrella organisation Stòrlann.

Gaelic4Parents offers a wide range of resources and support to all children and parents with an interest or involvement in Gaelic education but offers vital help, in particular, to those parents who don’t have any Gaelic themselves.

One of its main attractions is the collection of 232 audio books including all the Storyworlds books which get sent home from school for children to read for homework.

There are titles from other ranges too, such as the Gaelic Bookbug scheme, and co-edition ‘hits’, such as Acair’s An Gruffalo.

The other key feature of the website is the official Homework Help section.

This service, supported by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, is an online chat system where parents can get direct help from a teacher.

It operates during the school term, from Monday to Thursday between 5pm and 7pm, and is manned by two online support workers: Inge Birnie in Aberlour and Anne Marie Henderson in Lewis. It works as a live chat where parents can simply click on the button to ask for help.

Graphic: Gaelic4Parents.com

There’s more to Gaelic4Parents.com than just homework help, though. It caters for the early years (0 to 3) up to P7 and features a variety of ways children can learn Gaelic while having fun.

There are songs, pictures to print off and colour in, and games to play, plus the hosting of the Guthan Beaga (Little Voices) section, which teaches parents easy phrases to use with toddlers.

An App is available for Guthan Beaga for iOS and Android, while Gaelic4Parents can be found on Facebook and Twitter @gaelic4parents.

The Facebook page has become a mini community in its own right, with several thousand followers and weekly word list posts that regularly go viral.

The latest word list is on St Andrew’s Day and previously popular ones included Halloween and International Women’s Day, which received around 41,000 and 37,000 views respectively.

Launched in 2010, Gaelic4Parents on Facebook has an average weekly reach of 40,000, and also provides its own informal homework support in that Stòrlann staff who run it will try to answer questions if parents are stuck outwith the live chat time for Homework Help.

It’s all very different from the kind of support that was available in the past. Sarah MacEachan, Project Officer for Stòrlann, has worked on Gaelic4Parents since its inception when the original brief to reproduce a local authority booklet of Gaelic words with English translations was extended to the format of a website.

Sarah said: “Websites are so commonplace now but back in 2006 they were still a relatively new thing. There wasn’t very much ‘online’. Websites were a page with a phone number at the bottom.”

Back then, the website was little more than the Listen and Sing and Listen and Speak sections, plus Guthan Beaga and some pages and bookplates to print off and colour in.

The big step forward came after a few years when Heinemann publishers gave permission for the Storyworlds audio books. “From that point, it pretty much exploded,” said Sarah.

Homework Help followed four years ago and is “without question one of the most useful and highly regarded features that we have on the website.”

Gaelic4Parents is split into sections for different age ranges, with Nip the (Collie) Dog introduced in the early days as the mascot for children aged three to five, while Maoilios (Miles) the Monkey followed a few years later. Maoilios represents the children in primary classes one to four.

Nip and Maoilios are more than happy to come out to events —such as the 10th birthday celebrations held for Gaelic4Parents at the Royal National Mod in Stornoway in October.


Lewis mum Megan Macdonald is among those who decided to put her children into Gaelic Medium Education, despite having no Gaelic herself, because she was reassured by the kind of support offered by Gaelic4Parents.

Megan, who lives just outside Stornoway and is originally from New Zealand, said: “I couldn’t put the girls in Gaelic if it wasn’t for this. It would be impossible because I have no words!

“It’s just brilliant, especially by the time they get to P3 because their words are a wee bit more difficult.”
Megan and husband Donald, who also has no Gaelic, thought seriously about whether they would be able to support Neeve, now seven, and Marley, six, in bilingual education.

“It wasn’t a decision we took lightly,” she said. “I did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions. I thought, ‘Can I manage? Will I be able to do their homework?’”

Megan, who can speak Spanish, was impressed by the researched benefits of bilingual education and finally persuaded when she learned of the help available.

Now it is routine for Megan and the girls, plus one-year-old brother Samuel, to read their homework books at the computer and then play the Gaelic4Parents version.

“I try and get the girls to read the stories themselves and then we listen to it properly.”

Megan has also used the Homework Help live chat — “I typed in a request for translation help and got a reply straight away” — and is reassured about the progress her girls are making. “It’s nice to to have the teachers say, ‘her Gaelic is really, really good’”.

She said: “I find it interesting when I hear people say ‘I can’t put him into Gaelic because I can’t speak it’ because there’s a lot of support. I honestly couldn’t have done it without Gaelic4Parents. I just wouldn’t have been able to entertain it. Sometimes you get a bit jittery about it — but the feedback is that they’re doing alright.”


For more information:

Donald W Morrison, Stòrlann — 01851 700880 dwmorrison@storlann.co.uk
Katie Laing, PR — 07825200110 katielaingmedia@gmail.com





Three Stòrlann projects shortlisted in Scottish Gaelic Awards

Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig have been nominated for three awards in the Daily Record’s Scottish Gaelic Awards, with the finals ceremony being held in Glasgow tomorrow night (Wednesday, Nov 16).

The awards, sponsored by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, are being held in the Grand Central Hotel and aim to “reward all aspects of our Gaelic culture, education and language” and “highlight the excellent work undertaken to maintain growth and heritage”.
Stòrlann have two nominations in the category of Innovation in Education — for learning resources Go! Gaelic and LASADH — and have also been nominated for the Event award for An t-Alltan, the annual conference for teachers in Gaelic Medium Education.

Based in Stornoway, Stòrlann provide Gaelic teaching materials for schools right across Scotland.

Go! Gaelic is a big online package of resources and support for teachers in primary schools who are teaching the language to children outwith Gaelic Medium Education.

The Go! Gaelic programme is highly structured, focusing on 20 key topics and consolidated with the use of multi-media including short films.

These films were launched last month at Mòd nan Eilean Siar and star senior school pupils who have themselves come through GME.

One of the main stars of the films was Katie MacInnnes from Lewis, who has been invited to join Stòrlann representatives at the awards ceremony.

“I’m so very honoured that they’ve asked me to go down,” she said. “It’s so very nice of them. They didn’t have to invite me and I’m very excited to be a part of it.”

She added: “I absolutely loved the filming experience. I hadn’t done anything front of camera before so it was a completely new experience. I loved getting to meet the people that work in Stòrlann. It’s a great, great organisation.”

The other resource nominated in the Innovation in Education category is LASADH, a website for teachers involved in Gaelic Medium Education. Led by two teachers from Skye, Gwen Culbertson and Mairi Macdonald, LASADH is aimed at creating new primary school resources for GME and collating existing ones.

Teachers are welcome, and encouraged, to contribute their own resources to help build a bank of material.

The third nomination is for An t-Alltan, the annual conference for Gaelic teachers and early years staff.

Through a series of talks and workshops over two days, educationalists get the chance to learn about new resources and initiatives.

It is growing every year, with 206 delegates — including three from Canada — attending this year’s event at the Macdonald Aviemore Conference Centre in September.

Maureen McKenna, Executive Director of Education at Glasgow City Council, was one of the speakers this year — and welcomed its nomination.

“This year’s An t-Alltan showed that interest in Gaelic has never been stronger. I was delighted and privileged to be given the opportunity to address the conference and see first hand the level of commitment and extent of engagement in Gaelic language.”

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan also welcomed the nominations. “Stòrlann are an essential part of the development of Gaelic medium education throughout Scotland, and are responsible for creating many of the resources on which the sector relies.

“They are a great Hebridean success story, and well worthy of this recognition — meallaibh ur naidheachdan, uile.”
Stòrlann chief executive Donald Morrison said: “We’re highly delighted that we’ve been shortlisted for three projects. It’s great to be among all the other wonderful projects that are listed.”

Stòrlann chairman Robert Dalzell said Go! Gaelic, with its easy accessibility to online sound files and video, had “brought Gaelic teaching into the 21st Century”.

He added that An t-Alltan was going “from strength to strength” and had “become a mainstay for Gaelic teachers seeking professional learning in Gaelic”.

There are nine awards categories, ranging from the Learner Award and Young Gaelic Ambassador Award through to the International Award and Gaelic as an Economic Asset Award. The remaining awards relate to Arts and Culture; Community, Heritage and Tourism; and Best Contribution.

For more information:

Donald W Morrison, Stòrlann — 01851 700880 dwmorrison@storlann.co.uk
Katie Laing, PR — 07825200110 katielaingmedia@gmail.com






GME pupils pass on their skills to learners in primary schools with series of films and songs as part of Go! Gaelic resource

A series of films to help teach Gaelic to children learning it in primary school outwith Gaelic Medium Education is being launched today (October 18) at the Gaelic Showcase at Mòd nan Eilean Siar 2016.

The films star, and were made by, senior school pupils who have come through Gaelic Medium Education and are now passing on their language skills to youngsters who are just beginning to learn it.

The films, made with the support of media professionals, form part of the Go! Gaelic programme, a comprehensive online resource developed by Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig.

There are 20 films in the series, matching the 20 topics in Go! Gaelic, and each of the short films ends with a song.

The films are four minutes long, with drama scripts written by Morag Stewart.

All the melodies were set by popular Lewis singer-songwriter Willie Campbell, and performed by the school pupils themselves.

The new films, complete with songs, will be streamed throughout the day today at the Royal National Mod Showcase in the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway.

Appropriately, it was fifth and sixth year pupils from the Nicolson Institute who were involved in filming for the series, in June, at the An Tosgan studios.

The films form part of the second phase of the Go! Gaelic programme, which was launched last year.

Its 20 topics include introductions, the weather, subjects and hobbies — and while each film contextualises a different topic, they are all set in a cafe being run by a student during the summer holidays.

The films aim to build on learning already been done in class and were carefully written to ensure they only used keywords from the Go! Gaelic programme.

They can be viewed online, at www.go-gaelic.scot, alongside powerpoints and lessons on core language, to help learners get the strongest grasp of key words and phrases.

A Go! Gaelic App has also been developed to complement the programme.

Seven pupils took part altogether, in the making of the films. Three as actors and the rest behind the scenes, with one-to-one support from industry professionals.

Donald MacRitchie, Head of Projects at Stòrlann, said: “These young people were thrown into a professional and intense environment. We couldn’t get over how they handled it. They really did excel. Their attitude towards it all was exemplary.”

Stòrlann also plan to produce a series of books to accompany the films, in order to help support parents with homework. The books, which will be sent home from school, will be condensed versions of the film scripts.

In line with what already happens in Gaelic Medium Education, there will also be audio versions of the books on the Gaelic4Parents website.

Go! Gaelic is primarily aimed at teachers and pupils in Gaelic learning streams and provides training, support and resources to help teach Gaelic to learners across all stages of primary school.

It is designed to help deliver — by giving teachers the necessary resources — the Scottish Government’s initiative Language Learning in Scotland: a 1 + 2 Approach, which stipulates that all children should have the right to learn a second language from primary five onwards.

Stòrlann chief executive Donald Morrison said Go! Gaelic “fills the gap” between Gaelic and English Medium Education, providing “those outwith Gaelic Medium with the opportunity to engage with Gaelic.”

He added: “It’s extremely rewarding to witness current pupils, who have come through Gaelic Medium, passing on their skills to new or future Gaelic speakers.”

“It is a positive demonstration that the investment made towards raising the numbers of Gaelic speakers is coming to fruition. What we have here has the potential to deliver a  significant increase in the level of Gaelic awareness and interest and competence amongst young people in schools and homes across Scotland.”

Funding assistance for Go! Gaelic came from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Scottish Government and the Gaelic Language in the Primary School consortium. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar assisted with the filmmaking by providing preferential studio rates.

For more information:

Donald W Morrison, Stòrlann — 01851 700880 dwmorrison@storlann.co.uk
Katie Laing, PR — 07825200110 katielaingmedia@gmail.com




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