I had been a previous participant for the ‘Add1Challenge’ where I learned German and achieved A2 level and I was keen to sign up again for Scottish Gaelic. Gaelic was the language of my ancestors and in fact my great-grandfather taught it to adults in evening classes but it was never passed down to me. It was not easy to find a course and there was only one tutor on Italki whose hours did not fit in with mine. I eventually decided to go for the distance learning course through Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, a college on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. I had all the self-study materials and then a one hour group call with the tutor once per week.
This was my first video at the start of the challenge:
After a few weeks of this style of learning, I desperately needed more speaking practice. However, I did not anticipate how difficult it would be to find Gaelic speakers to speak with on Skype. I posted messages on lots of sites.
I therefore went through almost the whole challenge with no speaking! In the final week, I got a kind offer from Thomas in the USA who speaks fluent Gaelic and he agreed to make my 90 day video with me. I also went to the Isles of Lewis and Harris for a weekend where I was able to go to Ravenspoint and speak Gaelic there as they run summer courses so they were very enthusiastic about it. I also visited a church in Gravir, Lewis to attend a Gaelic Psalms service. It’s a very traditional and unique way of singing and attracts many visitors. The locals made me feel very welcome and they all spoke to me in Gaelic.
My 90 Day Add1Challenge video was a challenge as I had to speak for 15 minutes in Gaelic which I had not managed the whole way through as I hadn’t actually practised speaking with anyone (not even a rehearsal!), but the main thing is I achieved it! Looking back at my video now, I can hear mistakes especially when using tha/a bheil expressions but I don’t do that anymore and I should be pleased I finished it after all. A few weeks after the challenge ended, I received my Gaelic test results and I scored 83% for speaking and 90% for writing!
My final video also includes clips of my trip to the Isles of Lewis and Harris including the Gaelic Psalms church singing at the end.
I recommend the challenge particularly for people who are not very experienced with languages or studying in general. You will be put in a study group and there are mini-challenges throughout to keep you motivated and if enough people sign up, a prize of a flight to the host country of where your chosen language is spoken! In this challenge, our winner was Jake from the USA who studied Mandarin.
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