The new language immersion year, funded by the Scottish Funding Council, will be piloted over three years from September 2020.
Based in the main University of Glasgow campus, the immersion course will involve eight months of intensive language tuition. This will be followed by a three-week residential experience in South Uist, one of the strongest Gaelic-speaking communities in Scotland, facilitated by Ceòlas Uibhist.
The University of Glasgow has been at the forefront of Gaelic development in the Higher Education setting for the last 10 years. The introduction of an immersion year adds to the portfolio of unique opportunities that exist at the University to support and promote the use, learning and visibility of Gaelic.
Fiona Dunn, the University of Glasgow’s Gaelic Development Manager and Principal Investigator for the project, said: “The development of this immersion year is a direct response to how the student community has changed in recent years with more learners entering Gaelic programmes.
“We are delighted to receive this award from the SFC as it will support more students in achieving fluency in the language and help to realise one of the primary commitments in our current Gaelic Language Plan.”
The immersion year will be available to undergraduate students on Gaelic programmes at the University prior to entering honours level studies. It will offer the choice to study either a four-year or a five-year degree depending upon the language abilities of individual students.
The immersion year will be available as a standalone Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) qualification on either a full-time or a part-time basis over two years.
Ms Dunn said: “As Gaelic-medium education continues to expand across the central belt, the ability to offer this year as a CertHE is particularly important with more parents and adult learners in need of intensive learning opportunities.”
In addition to Ceòlas in South Uist, the University will work closely with partners in the city, including the Gaelic Books Council, to deliver aspects of the course and a new lecturer will be recruited in January 2020 to deliver the course as part of the Celtic & Gaelic team based at the College of Arts.
The University’s College of Arts commissioned a feasibility study in 2017 to consider an immersion experience in Glasgow and this revealed a demand for more intensive language opportunities amongst students and adult learners.
Gillebrìde MacMillan, Head of Celtic & Gaelic and Project Co-Investigator, said: “This is a hugely exciting development for the subject area that will ensure parity for Gaelic students with those studying on modern language programmes.
“We are particularly pleased to be working closely with a traditional Gaelic-speaking community to deliver aspects of this course and going forward, we also anticipate unique opportunities to support students wishing to pursue careers in Gaelic teaching who may have studied a range of other subjects.”
The proposal for this course is an alternative approach to immersion from previous national Gaelic summer schools and has been developed over a number of years by a dedicated development team including, Fiona Dunn and Gillebrìde MacMillan as well as, Dr. Sìm Innes, the Learning and Teaching Convener for Celtic & Gaelic, and Project Co-Investigator.
Morag Campbell, SFC Assistant Director, Gaelic Policy, said: “Language immersion is vital for students’ fluency and confidence in a language, particularly at the levels required for professional careers.
“Demand for highly skilled and fluent Gaelic-speaking graduates has never been higher, and the University of Glasgow is well placed to expand opportunities for Gaelic immersion in Scotland.
“Glasgow is home to the largest concentration of Gaelic speakers outwith the Western Isles and has a growing number of new Gaelic speakers, as a result of the success and demand for Gaelic-medium education.
“We are delighted to fund this initiative in support of the National Gaelic Language Plan, and increasing the number of Gaelic speaking professionals in Scotland.”