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Three Gaelic language posts from Comann nam Pàrant hope to increase fluency throughout the Highlands

By Louise Glen

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Speaking Gaelic at home is important for the future of the language.
Speaking Gaelic at home is important for the future of the language.

A pilot scheme is aiming to develop early years education and fluency in Gaelic by continuing learning at home.

Three posts have been created by Comann nam Pàrant (CnamP) and Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG), in partnership with Bòrd na Gàidhlig, after indications from parents that the levels of fluency in children has reduced during Covid-19.

Blaming the loss of “fun” conversation groups, the jobs have been created to help develop language skills at home.

The new positions with Comann nam Pàrant (Parent’s Organisation) will be based in Inverness with further funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, to assist early years groups.

The pilot scheme will last a year to begin with, with plans to extend it if it proves to be an effective way to promote Gaelic in early years education.

The officers will assist and work with local authorities and independent groups in different areas.

A CnamP spokesman said: “Parents have noticed that the lockdown has affected their children’s fluency and early years groups have said that not being able to meet with families to speak Gaelic in a fun setting was one of their biggest challenges – given that as this is one of the best ways to develop language skills.”

Magaidh Wentworth, national director of CnamP, said: “The years 0-3 are very important in terms of Gaelic medium education (GME) growth, but also in terms of Gaelic being used in homes and communities.

“This project will encourage
new parents to enrol their children in GME, while also helping
those children with their Gaelic language skills as early as possible. It is extremely important that they get the best start so that they can develop strong Gaelic language skills.”

“It is also important to create a strong relationship between Gaelic and the home. It is important that Gaelic is used at home after children return from an early years session. This project will help with that too.”

Donald MacNeill, chief executive of CnaG, said: “The sooner young children hear and engage with Gaelic, the deeper their linguistic roots will be, and the stronger their affinity with the language. We are delighted that Bòrd na Gàidhlig approved our application, and we are excited to be creating a new development team for early years education.”

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