Monday, 8 August 2011

Public bodies in joint bid to boost Gaelic

Staff in offices, nature reserves and forest districts from Shetland to Dumfries and from Aberdeen to Tiree, will now be able to learn Gaelic by using an online Gaelic toolkit.

A group of Scottish public sector organisations are launching an innovative programme for their staff to learn Gaelic today, as part of a government commitment to support the language. Both Alasdair Allan, the Scottish Minister for Gaelic, and Dinny McGinley, the Irish Minister of State with special responsibility for Gaeltacht affairs, will be present at the launch.

The initiative, by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and Crofters Commission, received funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s Gaelic Language Act Implementation Fund.

Each toolkit, developed by the Skye-based company Cànan, includes a series of generic introductory lessons, as well as personalised glossaries of useful phrases, and terminology specific to each organisation.

They also include interactive maps showing office locations, forest districts and crofting counties, as well as a variety of puzzles and animations for easier learning. And more than 1,000 audio files allow the learner to hear, as well as see, the phrases.

Minister for Gaelic Alasdair Allan said:

“I am very pleased to see bodies which are key to Scotland’s rural infrastructure working alongside Bòrd na Gàidhlig to widen opportunities to learn the language and about how it relates to the day-to-day work of the organisations.

“We are determined to secure a sustainable future for Gaelic, and the involvement of public bodies with a strong presence in rural Scotland, particularly the North East, is key to moving forward.”

Dinny McGinley, the Irish Minister of State with special responsibility for Gaeltacht affairs, said:

“This is an exciting and innovative programme that demonstrates the positive benefits that can accrue from public sector companies working together on a shared vision. I commend all who were involved in developing this project and I have no doubt that there are valuable lessons we can learn from it in Ireland as we pursue the common goal of promoting increased awareness and usage of our native Irish language.”

Andrew Thin, SNH chairman, said:

“I’m sure the toolkit will prove invaluable to many of SNH’s staff. It’s another building block to make sure Gaelic not only survives but thrives in Scotland. This is so important for our culture and history – as well as practical for those working in the Highlands and Western Isles.”

John Angus Mackay, Bòrd na Gàidhlig chief executive, said:

“This is a truly innovative initiative and Bòrd na Gàidhlig congratulates the partner organisations on planning and implementing it. Its objectives, scope and scale are commendable. As well as the benefits the individual themselves will see both culturally and linguistically, each organisation is also investing in cultural diversity which better reflects today’s business environments, as well as raising the profile of our own national language.”

Simon Hodge, Forest Enterprise Scotland chief executive, said:

"Gaelic is an integral part of Scotland's heritage and national identity. We want to continue promoting the language externally but also internally to our own staff. The new online toolkit is a great interactive resource for staff which will help them build up a better knowledge of the language."