Frequently Asked Questions

Children come to Gaelic-medium education from a wide variety of backgrounds. These vary from a household within a strong Gaelic speaking community to an environment where no Gaelic is spoken at all.

Some parents who have children in Gaelic medium education are fluent Gaelic speakers, other parents will be part of a family where one parent is able to speak Gaelic, and other parents are not be able to speak Gaelic.

Whatever the circumstances, parents’ desire to have Gaelic speaking bilingual children is often equally strong. They may have questions of the pros and cons of putting their children through Gaelic-medium education.

Find answers to these frequently asked questions in this section of the website.

1. Why Gaelic Education?

There are many advantages to being able to speak two languages. For example:

  • Being bilingual helps children become more aware of language itself and how it works.  A child speaking Gaelic will know that some nouns are masculine and feminine.  This makes it easier to learn languages such as French and Spanish where the same rules apply
  • Having two languages offers many career opportunities
  • They are better readers, and generally find it easier to learn other languages
  • Children in Gaelic medium education (GME) can be fluent in two languages with advantages learning other ones
  • Having two languages can access different literatures and more ways of thinking and acting
  • Gaelic bilinguals have a better understanding of the wider Scottish cultural identity
  • Children exposed to different languages at an early age tend to be more focused at ‘multitasking’ than children who speak only one language
  • Research shows that children educated through Gaelic are on par with or outperform children educated in one language
  • Children can learn about something in one language and talk about it in another, and this often helps them understand a subject more easily

2. Is Gaelic an easy language to learn?

Remember that children are born with the ability to become bilingual, and there is more than enough room in the brain for more than one language.  In a supportive atmosphere, any child can learn to speak Gaelic, just as children can learn any language.

3. Should we speak Gaelic at home if our child is learning Gaelic at school?

The home has a vital role to play in developing language in children. It is a natural place to learn and use language in everyday conversations. If children hear Gaelic spoken in the home and are encouraged to use it at home they can see that Gaelic is spoken in places other than school.

Encourage your child to speak to you in Gaelic. Sing or listen to Gaelic songs and stories. Encourage other Gaelic speakers to speak Gaelic to your child.

4. How do we use the Gaelic language at home if only one parent can speak it?

This is a fairly common situation. It’s then important that the parent who can speak Gaelic continues to use the language as much as possible in the home so that the child becomes familiar with hearing both languages.

Children love explaining and translating what’s been said in Gaelic. They may also want to tell you things they are learning.  If they are learning through Gaelic and explaining their learning in English they need to think about their learning, translate it into English and then explain to the non-Gaelic speaker.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t read to your children in English, and encourage them to read English as well.  Your child may want to tell you Gaelic words related to the story.

When children start reading in English they pick it up very quickly and easily as they are already able to read in Gaelic.  Reading in English for the first time may be a very rewarding experience for a child as they will realise that they are able to read fairly fluently in two languages.

5. How can I support my child if I don’t speak Gaelic?

Many parents and carers who send their children to Gaelic medium education are non-Gaelic speakers.

Some schools offer classes for parents so that they can help their children with their homework. Ask your nearest Gaelic schools about Gaelic classes.

If you can speak a little Gaelic or can understand Gaelic encourage staff at the early years group/nursery/school to speak to you in Gaelic.

Encourage friends and family who are Gaelic speakers to speak to you in Gaelic.

Gaelic 4 Parents also has activities, phrase cards and games to download, and they provide regular online support for parents.

When your child starts primary school you will want to help your child with their homework.  The Gaelic4Parents website has audio files of all the Gaelic reading books that your child will read at home with you.  There are also lots of games and activities on this website for you to do with your child.

If you do want to learn Gaelic, there are Gaelic classes and courses for adults available throughout Scotland.  These are suitable for all levels of learners.  CLI, the organisation for adults learning Gaelic will give you information about classes in your area or online.

6. What if my child has Additional Support Needs?

Children with additional support needs can reach their full potential in Gaelic-medium education just as they can in any other system. There’s no evidence that bilingualism contributes in any way to learning difficulties.

7. Are there Gaelic activities available outwith school?

Fèisean nan Gàidheal supports the development of community-based Gaelic arts tuition festivals throughout Scotland.  At a Fèis your child can develop skills in the Gaelic arts – song, dance, drama, and traditional music on a wide range of instruments. Tuition is fun, but professional and effective.  The focus of activity for most Fèisean is an annual, week-long festival, but increasingly Fèisean offer a full programme of year-round follow-on classes to ensure sustained provision.  Here is a list of all the Fèisean in Scotland.

After-school clubs/Saturday morning clubs

Many Gaelic schools or Schools with Gaelic classes provide after school clubs or Saturday clubs through the medium of Gaelic.  Contact your local school for more information.

Comunn na Gaidhlig – Iomairtean Gaidhlig

CNAG has established and developed Iomairtean Gàidhlig (Gaelic Language Initiatives) in 7 areas across Scotland.  The development officers for these language initiatives organise Gaelic medium events in the community for all ages.  The activities offer learners and fluent speakers the chance to engage in a wide variety of activities.  The community is involved in choosing the activities.  More information is available through their website

For more information about Gaelic-medium education contact Bòrd na Gàidhlig or your Local Authority. Gaelic medium education is available to all children. Why not give your child the opportunity to benefit from bilingualism?

Useful Websites


Clì Gaidhlig

Fèisean nan Gàidheal

Comunn na Gaidhlig

Bòrd na Gàidhlig