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Resources for Learning Gaelic (revised 2015)

There are several routes to learning Gaelic - self-guided learning, evening classes and short courses, conversation groups, distance learning and immersive, intensive full-time learning. It's important to choose the method that best suits your circumstances and lifestyle but if you can, try more than one as each has strengths and weaknesses.

The most important thing is to take every available opportunity to listen to, speak and read Gaelic, regardless of the level you are at. The following is a summary of the resources and opportunities that are out there to help you...

Self-guided learning for beginners

The LearnGaelic website is aimed at for anyone and everyone interested in learning Scottish Gaelic and their free online Beginners Course is an excellent starting point. Also among the site's many resources are edited episodes of the TV series Speaking Our Language, the first 18 of which are aimed at beginners.

The BBC offers a good range of materials to engage those beginning to learn Gaelic, especially children. Beag air Bheag provides a taste of Scottish Gaelic for absolute beginners. Beag air Bheag means 'little by little', which is how the sections of the site aim to introduce you to the language. Colin & Cumberland is an introduction to Gaelic through short animated television programmes and games based on the comic capers of Colin and Cumberland. Air Splaoid contains 12 lessons centred on a year-long journey around the Highlands. It was created in 2007 but is still useful.

Gaelic while through their Gaelic Nursery Language Links, City of Edinburgh Council have created a series of colourfully illustrated story books for parents to read to their children. They are aimed at helping non-Gaelic-speaking parents learn basic phrases used in Gaelic-medium nursery schools.

Self-guided learning for intermediate and advanced learners

The BBC's Dealas is primarily aimed at Gaelic learners in the early years of secondary school although some content is also suitable for younger children.

Each week on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal, Roddy Maclean broadcasts An Litir Bheag, a "little letter" specially formulated for established learners. It caters for those who have advanced beyond Colin and Cumberland and Beag air Bheag. The text of the letter is available to read while you listen. An Litir Bheag is also available as a podcast. For more advanced learners there is Litir do Luchd-Ionnsachaidh, a "Letter to Gaelic Learners".

LearnGaelic contains edited versions of all 72 episodes of the TV series, Speaking Our Language, the bulk of which is aimed at intermediate learners.

TAIC is a grammar-oriented online course.

Evening Classes and short courses

The LearnGaelic website includes a comprehensive list of courses and classes, both formal and informal, currently being held in Scotland. It increasingly includes courses from around the world.

Ùlpan courses are aimed at adult learners. They focus on speaking and listening rather than writing or grammar and give a lot of attention to learning and developing correct Gaelic pronunciation.

Clì Gàidhlig provides adult learners with a wide range of learning resources to achieve fluency in the language.

City Lit offers Gaelic courses in London for beginners and intermediate learners.

Ceòlas runs a summer school on South Uist every year. The focus is on music and dance but it includes a strong Gaelic language element.

Distance Learning

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO) is the only college in the world which not only teaches the Gaelic language, but is also administered using Scottish Gaelic as the primary language. It offers distance learning opportunities though its An Cùrsa Inntrigidh (Access to Gaelic) course, which is aimed at complete beginners and learners with a little Gaelic. Course materials are accessed online and supplemented by a weekly telephone tutorial. Another course at SMO, An Cùrsa Ardhartais, is aimed at those at intermediate level who wish to become fluent. A range of higher education courses are also available via distance learning.

SMO also offer short courses and accommodation on-site in Skye and sometimes in other locations too. These are particularly good for people who work or have other commitments but can go for a week or two of intensive tuition.

Gaelic Media

A lot can be gained from simply listening to Gaelic, regardless of how much you understand. You will become familiar with patterns of speech and the "sound" of the language. Listen to BBC Radio nan Gàidheal (or on FM and DAB Digital Radio in Scotland and online throughout the world) or watch BBC Alba (on Freeview in Scotland, and on cable and satellite and online throughout the UK). Children's cartoons and books are also a fun way of picking up words and phrases.

Online Dictionaries

Despite being over a century old, Dwelly's remains one of the most popular Gaelic dictionary. The online version also includes English-to-Gaelic.

Am Faclair Beag incorporates Dwelly and includes options to search for part of a word as well as similar sounding words.

The LearnGaelic website includes both a user-friendly dictionary and thesaurus.

Stòr-dàta is a Gaelic terminology database maintained by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

An Seotal is an on-line terminology database particularly aimed at Gaelic-medium subject teaching in the secondary school but is accessible to everyone. The Scottish Gaelic page on

Lexilogos facilitates the searching of several dictionaries from the search box.

Gaelic Medium Education

Through its Fiosrachadh do Phàrantan website, Bòrd na Gàidhlig provides parents with information on the benefits of Gaelic-medium education and its availability across Scotland.

Comann nam Pàrant is a national organisation, comprising a network of local groups, which offers advice and support on Gaelic medium education to parents of children from pre-school to secondary level.

Gaelic4Parents is a website for parents and children interested and involved in Gaelic education. This site includes games, stories, audio and much more to help you enjoy the experience of learning Gaelic, regardless of age or ability.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have a site dedicated to Gaelic Medium Education in the Western Isles.

Comunn na Gàidhlig seeks to promote Gaelic language and culture in Scotland by supporting Gaelic-medium education and organising events for children and young people

e-Stòras, from Comhairle nan Eilean, contains resources aimed at children of all ages (3-18) in Gaelic-medium education.

Regional Groups and Organisations

Iomairt Ghàidhlig Dhùn Èideann promotes the many Gaelic activities and events happening in Edinburgh.

Iomairt Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu supports the use and development of Gaelic in Glasgow.

ClannGàidhlig promotes and develops the Gaelic language and culture in the areas covered by the local authorities of East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire.

An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach (The American Scottish Gaelic Society) strives to promote and preserve the Gaelic language and culture by supporting Gaelic language study and interest in Gaelic literature, song, music, art and history in North America and the world.

Comunn Gàidhlig Astràilia (The Scottish Gaelic Association of Australia) supports the language and culture of Scottish Gaels in Australia.

Comunn Gàidhlig Ottawa aims to foster and grow Gaelic awareness and usage in central Canada.

Acadamaidh na Gàidhlig sa Ghearmailt is a Gaelic and Culture centre in Bonn, Germany.

Gaelic Culture

Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches is a collaborative project set up to preserve, digitise, catalogue and make available online several thousand hours of Gaelic and Scots recordings. It is a truly fabulous resource. This website contains a wealth of material such as folklore, songs, music, history, poetry, traditions, stories and other information. The material has been collected from all over Scotland and beyond from the 1930s onwards.

Fèisean nan Gàidheal is the independent umbrella association of the Fèis movement which supports the development of community-based Gaelic arts tuition throughout Scotland.

Pròiseact Nan Ealan (The Gaelic Arts Agency) promotes the Gaelic language and its culture through the arts in Scotland and abroad.

The aim of The Gaelic Society of Inverness is to cultivate the language, poetry and music of the Scottish Highlands and further the interests of the Gaelic-speaking people. It organises talks, publishes volumes of papers and organises a memorial service at Culloden, a showcase of Gaelic music and song, and numerous other activities and events.

Through its Corpas na Gàidhlig project, the Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic aims to provide a comprehensive electronic corpus of texts for students and researchers of Gaelic language, literature and culture. The DASG also hosts a Fieldwork Archive, a collection of vernacular materials collected throughout Gaelic Scotland and in Nova Scotia between the 1960s and 1980s.

Cearcaill na Gàidhlig (The Gaelic Rings) is a collaboration by a group of travel partners which resulted in the creation of six Rings - or round trips - taking in the islands from Islay in the south to Lewis in the north and the West Highland mainland from Kennacraig to Ullapool. Each journey focuses on the Gaelic culrture of the area.

Other Useful Sites

Save Gaelic is a starting point for English speakers to take an interest in the Scottish Gaelic language by raising interest and pointing Scots Gaelic enthusiasts in the right direction of the resources they need.

Fòram na Gàidhlig is the international Gaelic learners' community. It contains resources and useful links for students of the language and learners of all abilities can get help.

Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba / Gaelic Place-Names of Scotland is the national advisory partnership for Gaelic place-names in Scotland. The website includes a searchable database.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig works in partnership with the Scottish Government to promote Gaelic and to improve the status of the language throughout Scotland.

Comunn na Gàidhlig offer a service through which sound files can be requested which give the correct pronunciation of the Gaelic names of hills and mountain features such as lochans, corries and ridges.

The Gaelic Books Council is the lead organisation with responsibility for supporting Scottish Gaelic authors and publishers, and for raising the profile and reach of Scottish Gaelic books in Scotland and internationally. In addition to a range of books aimed at helping learners it also sells children's story books, new Gaelic fiction, and music.

iGàidhlig aims to create computer software for Gaelic or adapt and translate existing tools into Gaelic.


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