On Course to Cater for Increasing Interest in Gaelic Language and Celtic Culture

The Scotsman, July 21, 2017 | Go to article overview

On Course to Cater for Increasing Interest in Gaelic Language and Celtic Culture


W ITH a growing interest in Gaelic language and culture outside areas where it was traditionally strong, more young Scots are emerging from school bilingual.

This isn't just happening in the Highlands and Islands, but increasingly elsewhere - with some consequent staffing challenges as Gaelic medium schools in Edinburgh and Glasgow seek both teachers and support staff who are fluent in the language.

Newbattle Abbey College has a rich cultural heritage, which has included the promotion of Celtic culture and Gaelic language. The college is also trying hard to plug the lowland skills gap by offering a gateway to those with an interest in the Gaelic language and broader Celtic culture.

Our Celtic Studies Access to Higher Education course provides a pathway to Gaelic and our Celtic cultural heritage. Students on the course learn about contemporary Gaelic language and the culture of the Celts, as well as the history of the Celts in Scotland, politics in the Celtic nations, literature, storytelling in the Celtic tradition and the heritage industry in Scotland.

Quite a rich tapestry, I'm sure you will agree.

The course is part of the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) for adults and has no entry requirements. Newbattle also offers a National Certificate in Celtic Studies for anyone aged over 16, targeted specifically at school-leavers and older students.

Both courses run for a full academic year, from September to June, with the option of living on-campus in Newbattle's stunning historic building in wooded grounds near Dalkeith in Midlothian.

For those who find Gaelic language a little daunting, we offer additional lunchtime language classes to help students - and also immerse them for two weeks in a Gaelic-speaking culture as part of the course.

These two weeks - a week in Sabhal Mor Ostaig in Skye and a week at Lews Castle College in Stornoway - have proved a very popular, and successful, immersive experience for our students. One of them sent a lovely e-mail, saying: "All well here in Stornoway. We saw a minke whale from the ferry as well as porpoises and dolphins!

"It's a lovely way to finish the course.

I think we've all been really fortunate to have been on such a fantastic and interesting course. It's been a really positive experience with excellent tutors and interesting and supportive fellow students. …

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