SpeakGaelic

– in the Scottish Parliament on 2nd December 2021.

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Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

6. A dh'fhaighneachd de Riaghaltas na h-Alba ciamar a tha e a’ smaointinn a bhios iomairt ùr SpeakGaelic a’ toirt àrdachadh air an àireamh de dhaoine a bhios a’ bruidhinn Gàidhlig agus ga dhèanamh nas fhasa do dhaoine an cànan ionnsachadh.

Following is the translation:

To ask the Scottish Government how it anticipates the new SpeakGaelic language learning initiative will help increase the number of people speaking Gaelic and make learning the language more accessible. (S6O-00477)

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

I am afraid that the interpretation did not come through my audio, so I am going to presume that the question is as per the

Business Bulletin and go along with that for the moment. Perhaps we can seek some guidance for the supplementary question.

The Scottish Government is proud to have provided financial support to MG Alba for the development of the new SpeakGaelic initiative. That free, multiplatform approach to language learning will allow anyone who is interested in learning Gaelic to access a high-quality course at any time that suits them. I commend everyone involved in bringing SpeakGaelic to this stage and look forward to the continued development of further phases.

There are other Gaelic learning resources that have proved to be very popular, such as Duolingo and LearnGaelic, with high numbers signing up to learn. We expect that SpeakGaelic will also benefit from the increase in interest.

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

I do not know whether other members heard the interpretation, but, as someone who wants to use Gaelic in Parliament, as is my right, I am beginning to weary of waiting for an occasion when I will get simultaneous translation either at a cross-party group or when I begin my contribution in the chamber. My question is—

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Dr Allan, please resume your seat for a second. I appreciate the point that you raise. My understanding is that the prior arrangement was, rightly or wrongly, that the question in the

Business Bulletin would be read out in English and then the supplementary would be translated into Gaelic. That may be an issue to look at, but it might explain the problem that some members experienced. I hope that that answer is helpful.

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

I thank the Presiding Officer and take that point. I suppose that I was referring to the fact that there have been numerous occasions—in cross-party groups, in the chamber, and in many other places—when it has been impossible to obtain the simultaneous interpretation. I thank you for your time.

I ask, as a supplementary to that question, what difference the cabinet secretary thinks the new SpeakGaelic facility will make across Scotland and the world.

Dr Allan continued in Gaelic:

Tha mi a’ cur fàilte air an iomairt seo, a bhios a’ dèanamh diofair mòr do luchd-ionnsachaidh na Gàidhlig anns an sgìre agam fhèin, air feadh Alba agus air feadh an t-saoghail. An toir am Ministear beachd seachad air ruigsinneachd nan goireasan seo, gu nàiseanta agus gu h-eadar-nàiseanta?

Following is the simultaneous interpretation:

I welcome the development of this initiative, which will make a big difference to Gaelic learners in my own constituency, as well as throughout Scotland and, indeed, around the globe. Will the minister give an indication of the international, as well as the national, scope of these resources?

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Dr Allan. Cabinet secretary, I think that you got the gist of the subject matter in Dr Allan’s first posing of the question.

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

Thank you, Presiding Officer. On the point that Dr Allan raises, I really hope that this is something that we can see develop and come to fruition. These resources are freely available on a variety of platforms, which makes them available to learners right across the world. I hope that they will attract people to pick up the language not just here, at home, but more widely. We can point to the pupils in the new Gaelic school in Nova Scotia, for example, who may use it as part of their language learning.

I was certainly pleased to see that, in the first two weeks of the project, the website alone had 11,000 unique visitors, 77 per cent of whom were from the United Kingdom, which means, of course, that others came from further afield.

Photo of Donald Cameron Donald Cameron Conservative

Teaching Gaelic is intrinsic to increasing the number of Gaelic speakers. Since 2016-17, only 25 new Gaelic teachers have been recruited from postgraduate diploma in secondary education courses, which falls short of the Scottish Funding Council’s target of 31 in the period. Given the need to fill vacancies in Gaelic education, what action is the Scottish Government taking to ensure that the 2021-22 target is not only met but exceeded?

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

I thank Donald Cameron for that important question. I absolutely agree that we need to do more to encourage people into teaching, particularly in Gaelic-medium education. That has been discussed regularly with me and officials, and I know that there has been work, for example, with which the General Teaching Council for Scotland has been assisting. I would be happy to provide much more detail in writing to Mr Cameron, to ensure that we see further progress on the matter. Of course, once he has received that letter, if there is more work that he thinks we should be doing, I would be more than happy to hear whether there are some practical examples of how we can take that up.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

For the record, and as a matter of clarification, the interpretation of Dr Allan’s supplementary question did, in fact, come through the headphones.