Oban teacher helps create online Gaelic course

Kieran MacInnes won The Traditional Gold Medal at the 2018 Royal National Mod.

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Tens of thousands of people have signed up for a free online Gaelic course that was launched last week.

As of Monday night, more than 85,000 people were learning the language on Duolingo – a free online learning app.

It was made possible thanks to volunteers, including a school teacher in Oban.

Kieran MacInnes, acting principal teacher for Gaelic at Rockfield Primary Gaelic Unit (Bun-sgoil Achadh na Creige), even took his laptop on his honeymoon so he could continue to work on the course.

Thanks to Kieran, and other volunteers, it was launched in record-breaking time.

‘I’ve been on board with the course since we began building it seven months ago,’ Kieran told The Oban Times.

‘I bought a new laptop the night before we left so I could keep working while I was away [on honeymoon].

‘My main role was writing the initial curriculum (around 6,000) sentences but I’ve been involved at every stage.

‘Other contributors include Màrtainn Mac a’ Bhàillidh, an architect from Skye, and Joanne MacLennan, who is a student from Benbecula, although many more people have lent a hand. My own grandmother (Katie MacInnes) and my uncle (John MacInnes) helped record audio as part of the team.

‘It’s great and really humbling to see the course do so well. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far. I can’t wait to help develop even further in future. I think it’s important that anyone, regardless of the availability of classes or their ability to pay, has the option to learn Gaelic if they choose to.

‘Providing engaging and effective ways to learn the language can only be a good thing. It has certainly generated a lot of positive publicity for the language. Hopefully, more people will consider learning the language.’

Joy Dunlop, from Connel, who is now a weatherperson for the BBC, also recorded audio for the app.

The Duolingo course has been welcomed by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

He told the BBC: ‘The Gaelic language is a vital part of Scotland’s cultural identity and we want to ensure those who wish to learn and to use the language are given every opportunity to do so.

‘This sits alongside the recently updated Learn Gaelic website, which contains a wealth of adult learning materials for those with an interest in the language.’

To begin using the course, visit www.duolingo.com or download the Duolingo app.