Online Gaelic course tops 200,000 learners

NO F51 Duolingo
NO F51 Duolingo

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More than 200,000 people have now signed up to learn Gaelic online.

The Duolingo Gaelic course was only 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.

Speaking about the success of the course, Kieran told The Oban Times this week: ‘To have 215,000 people signed up in just a few months is incredible and shows beyond doubt that there is a huge amount of interest in learning Gaelic.

‘Hopefully we will see this demand translated into more opportunities to learn Gaelic in communities. The number of learners is growing everyday, and the small team of volunteers behind Duolingo are working hard to expand and improve the course further still.’

Following the success of the course, a public Facebook group called Scottish Gaelic Duolingo has been created and now boasts more than 4,500 members.

Oban man, Rab Woods of Imagine Alba – a tour company based in Oban – asked the group what made them interested in learning Gaelic.

One member said: ‘My mum taught me Gaelic when I was young after we moved to England from Scotland. I’ve always been interested in it but just never really knew where to go to learn it.

‘I discovered Duolingo last year and started re-learning German again. Then I watched Outlander and really wanted to know what they were all talking about when they spoke in Gaelic. Then a friend shared the news Duolingo were going to be doing Gaelic and I was over the moon.’

Another said: ‘I’m 54, always wanted to get into it but never got far. Duolingo was the way in, for me, and I’m going to keep using it and studying it for the rest of my life, and hopefully pass something of it to my son.’

‘So I live in America and unfortunately my family has lost a lot of our roots,’ another member said. ‘I didn’t really have a “cultural identity” growing up. As an adult I decided to do some research and discovered I’m part Scottish. So I’ve been trying to learn more about the culture and such. Since Scottish Gaelic is available on Duolingo there is no reason not to learn it at this point.’

Others said said they were using the app to help them learn the language as their child is in Gaelic medium education.