Parents are going for Gaelic lessons

John Orr, Jessica Finnie, Anna Kinsella and Eleanor Grafton at Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pairce, Bonnington. Picture: Jane Barlow
John Orr, Jessica Finnie, Anna Kinsella and Eleanor Grafton at Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pairce, Bonnington. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Some parents already have trouble understanding the lingo used by their children, but imagine they were speaking a different language?

Concerns that family communication could be lost in translation have led parents and grandparents of children signed up for Gaelic school to start taking lessons themselves.

Newbattle Abbey College, which has been promoting Gaelic language and culture for the past two years, has noticed more family members getting in on the act, after demand for places at the new Parkside Primary – which teaches entirely in Gaelic – exceeded all expectations.

Gaelic development co-ordinator Morag MacDonald, 26, said: “There’s a great mix of people coming to the classes, including people working in Gaelic TV and others with an interest in Scottish culture and history, but we’ve definitely noticed a lot getting involved because they have a family member who will be attending Parkside Primary, or the Gaelic school opening in Glasgow.

“It’s really good to see more people taking an interest. People have misconceptions surrounding support for the Gaelic language, but there is a growing demand for lessons across Scotland.”

One of those hoping to get a head start is part-time vet nurse Jessica Finnie, 34, whose son Axel, 2, is starting Gaelic nursery in August and hopes to attend Parkside when he turns five.

“My husband Lorne’s side of the family are all from up north and my nieces and nephews are learning Gaelic, so we thought it would be nice for Axel and eventually his sister Edith, who is 14 months old, to be able to chat with them, plus all the positive effects of being bilingual. I really want to be able to support their learning at home too, so it makes sense to learn as much as I can – though I expect they’ll end up being far better than me.”

While education experts recommend beginning new languages at an early age, it is never too late to start learning.

Retired GP Michael Wilson, 64, who lives in Dalkeith, has begun attending classes along with his wife and sister-in-law before his granddaughter begins learning Gaelic at primary school in August.

He said: “We’re very involved with our grandchildren and still want to be able to do things like helping with homework. The classes are quite challenging – some of the words are very difficult to get your tongue round – but it’s also very interesting and well-organised.”

But not everyone in the class is doing it for the kids.

John Orr, 44, a caterer from Loanhead, is hoping the classes will enrich his involvement with the Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust, which stages reenactments of the historic 1745 battle, the first significant conflict in the second Jacobite rising.

He said: “The battle was won by Gaelic speakers so it makes it more authentic for people watching if we can use real words and phrases.”

So you want to speak Gaelic?

Here’s a few handy phrases to get you started . . .

Welcome: Fàilte

Hello: Halò

Goodbye: Beannachd leat/leibh

Good morning: Madainn mhath

Good afternoon: Feasgar math

Good evening: Feasgar math

What’s your name: Dè an t-ainm a th’ort?

My name is: Is mise ...

How are you: Ciamar a tha thu/sibh?

Good, thank you: Tha gu math, tabadh leibh

Not bad: Chan eil dona

Alright: Ceart gu leòr

Where are you from: Co às a tha thu?

Plus here’s a couple of Gaelic proverbs . . .

Say but little and say it well: Abair ach beagan is abair gu math.

He who is late rising will be in a hurry all day: Am fear e bhios fada gun eiridh, bidh e na leum fad’ an latha.