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Uist Guide for Gaelic Learners

08/05/2018 Leave a comment

A year has passed since Ceòlas’ Liam Alastair Crouse last spoke to Gordon Wells about his work in Uist. He took time out from helping with the latest immersion course for Gaelic learners at Kildonan Museum to talk about what he’s been doing. He’s not been idle!

Part of his work involves helping organisations (local and national) develop their Gaelic, particularly online. Here are some of the sites he mentions.

https://www.runnach.co.uk/
https://www.toradh.org/
https://www.taigh-chearsabhagh.org/gd/taigh-chearsabhagh-taigh-tasgaidh-agus-ionad-ealan/
http://digital.nls.uk/learning/iolaire/

He then goes on to mention the latest initiative to help Gaelic learners in Uist – a listing of likely places where you might hear and practise the language, together with some helpful tips on how to engage in Gaelic conversation. You can download and print off the guidelines here. It’s also available on the Ceòlas site here.

In the final part of the conversation with Gordon he talks about further plans for local development. Watch this space!

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Categories: Community, Video

Gathered and Shared – Poems and Music

06/05/2018 2 comments

Many thanks to Loriana Pauli for sending Island Voices this new offering – a podcast she and fellow Uist-based students on the UHI BA in Applied Music made with the help of local poet Pauline Prior-Pitt. Originally broadcast by An Radio, we’re delighted to post the link here. It’s a nice mix of poetry and music, English and Gaelic.

In this short programme Loriana Pauli, Chloe Steele, Angharad Whittle, Peter Davidson, and Jordan Neill have put together images in words and music of some aspects of Uist’s working life and traditions.

Categories: Audio, Classes, Community, UGC

Learning Gaelic: Effort and Reward

15/04/2018 1 comment

This is a very nicely made video from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Multimedia centre, with Liam Alastair Crouse making some well considered points about learning Gaelic. It may not be the easiest task in the world – but the rewards for success are worth noting!

Categories: Community, Video

रीस्टोर प्रोजेक्ट – Re-Store Project

22/03/2018 Leave a comment

When language scholars talk about Gaelic, they often talk about other “minority languages” too, drawing parallels between what’s happening in the Hebrides and in other parts of the world. In Island Voices we’ve made a big thing of connections to Ireland, for example, with our “Gaelic Journeys” series. We’ve also made links to other Celtic languages (Welsh and Manx) as well as to Basque, another European minority language. And we’ve grouped these together with other languages across the world on our “Other Tongues” page. This page goes beyond European boundaries to include some Asian languages. And now we’ve added another one – Hindi.

“Cùm do shùil air taobh an Ear”, was Norman’s advice in “Saoghal Thormoid” (here at 22.22) – “Keep your eye on the East”. But, truth be told, this is not a new film at all. It belongs originally to Series 1 (2005-2007), being first made in English and Gaelic as usual, but with the Hindi version added soon after, following a visit to India by Gordon Wells for the University of the Highlands and Islands, during which time he made contact with the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan. He returned from India inspired by the environmental awareness displayed at Tilonia, the commitment to working with people on the ground in their own communities, and the energetic determination shown to do practical work, if need be outside established educational structures where they don’t suit local contexts. Clearly, material circumstances in the Hebrides are very different indeed from Rajasthan, but the Island Voices project has always been imbued with something of a DIY, self-reliant, “Barefoot College spirit” since that visit – which is partly why the Hindi version of the Re-Store film, which features a local voluntary project focusing on recycling furniture and books and the development of practical skills, was made so early (and sent on a disk to Tilonia as a token of appreciation).

As the official language of the Indian Union, with hundreds of millions of speakers, it obviously makes no sense to bracket Hindi as a “minority language” in that context – though it is also spoken by smaller yet significant numbers in other countries around the world, including the UK. Nevertheless, we’re happy to add it to our “Other Tongues” catalogue in Island Voices, as part of our “Sharing Gaelic Voices” theme. India is a highly multilingual nation, and it may well be that our efforts here in the Hebrides to support healthy interrelationships between our different languages could be usefully informed by closer study of the Indian context.

Here’s the film on YouTube.

As usual we have also created a Clilstore unit, so you can watch, listen, and read at the same time, and click on any word to get an online dictionary translation: Unit 6555

Finally, readers are reminded that the film paints a picture of the Re-Store Project in its earliest days. Things have moved on a lot since then, with purpose-built premises now located on the Cothrom campus in Ormacleit. Here’s some more recent news, including a link to a BBC Alba feature on “DIY le Donnie“.

Categories: CALL, Community, Video

“Cearcall a’ Chuain”

23/02/2018 1 comment

Island Voices activist, Mary Morrison, has launched another fascinating project with Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath, The North Uist Historical Society, (with Berneray and Grimsay). The Island Voices project is delighted to host some very young film-makers’ work on our YouTube channel. Mary explains:

“Have we found the Great Auk Stone?”

“This bilingual film was planned, devised, filmed, edited and photographed by the Junior Section of our Historical Society, Comann Eachdraidh na h-Oige, forty children from P4-7 of Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath over the Summer Term of 2017. The final editing and translation was the work of Anna Black, the film technician trained by St Andrews ‘Smart History’ group, under the direction of Dr Alan Miller, and given invaluable technical support thereafter from local artist, Peter Ferguson.

We are very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund, ‘Stories, Stones and Bones’ for funding this elaborate project, since it relied heavily on our team of outreach volunteers, working alongside the very helpful and tolerant teachers in the school. Each of the six township groups, having chosen a specialist area of maritime history to research, also chose a secret landmark from their area. The film was devised as a form of treasure hunt to be explored, either to test residents’ local knowledge, or to encourage tourists to explore the island.

It is intended to follow this up with a paper map, charting the places of interest the children chose to photograph, plotted as six different walks. It also might be possible in future to download each section of the film as an app if our mobile signals improve or we obtain funding for a set of geo-caches?

As well as this film, we have kept all the longer oral history interviews in rough edit form. The children elicited so much of interest from the tradition bearers they chose to invite, using their preplanned, shared group questioning. We feel the excellence of the work they have done deserves to be captured here in its own right.

As you survey this stream, DO REMEMBER THAT THIS IS THE WORK OF CHILDREN AGED 9 – 12!”

Categories: Community, Research, UGC, Video

Language Issues Update

12/01/2018 Leave a comment

Sharing Gaelic Voices” started as a new Guthan nan Eilean theme relatively recently, more or less coinciding with the 2016 summer issue of NATECLA‘s journal “Language Issues”. We’re very grateful to the editor Sally Bird for the update she’s now written on our project for the 2017 winter issue of the same journal. You can freely and directly access Sally’s Island Voices article here.

There’s a multilingual theme to the entire issue, with weighty contributions from James Simpson, Melanie Cooke, and other prominent thinkers and practitioners in the ESOL and Community Languages field. Now that the number of languages in which we’ve produced films has broken into double figures – see the Other Tongues page – we’re pleased to feature again in the NATECLA journal. You can get access to the full journal by following this link.

And if anyone wants to add further to the Island Voices list of languages, do get in touch!

Categories: Community

Looking Back on Island Voices

27/12/2017 Leave a comment

Series 1 of the Island Voices videos first came out on DVD in 2007. The project has grown a lot since then in various ways. Everything is now online (instead of DVD); Series 2 (Outdoors, Generations, Enterprise) added greatly to the number of videos created by project staff; and community members and groups have got involved in creating learning materials themselves. Perhaps the one thing that hasn’t changed is that the greatest emphasis is still placed on trying to base any recordings that come out of the project on real island life. That can still be seen even in the latest series “Sgeulachdan Thormoid” and “Saoghal Thormoid”, in which the project recorded stories and conversations from Norman Maclean in his final years, after he’d settled back in Uist.

Support for learners

Island Voices started (with help from the European Union) as a scheme for giving simple support in using new technology to learners and teachers. So, from the start the project has been about developing skills in community members in creating and sharing learning materials. As there generally tends to be more material for beginners (particularly in Gaelic) than there is for people who want to progress on to fluency, the project placed an emphasis on more advanced materials – with a mixture of documentary clips and interviews with community members speaking naturally. That’s the kind of material available in Series 1 and 2, with additional support available through Clilstore which gives you an online transcript alongside the film itself.

Made by the community

After those series, the project changed its way of working. It wasn’t project staff who created the new materials, but community members themselves. You can see examples on the “Bonnie Prince Charlie” or “The Great War” pages – series that were created in collaboration with Stòras Uibhist and Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath – in which people like Tommy MacDonald, Mary Morrison and others made their own recordings for sharing on the project website. In this way the project obtained new stories at a level even closer to the community, and new people got a chance to get involved in the work and to develop skills.

Social media and other languages

The project started online on WordPress (for a central website) and YouTube (for the films). But then the Facebook page was added, to help with sharing information about what was happening in the project and in the community. There is also a Twitter account, and overall there are well over 3,000 followers now, who are spread across the world. From the beginning the project worked bilingually with English and Gaelic. But as things have grown and developed, other languages have appeared, such as Irish, Welsh, Basque and others. Once people start learning a new language, they may naturally develop an interest in bilingualism, and how you can use different languages together.

Norman Maclean

Perhaps Norman Maclean was among the quickest to appreciate this, and he was also one of the readiest people to record Gaelic stories and other materials. After returning to Uist he did some pieces for Series 2 to begin with. He also got involved in the Storytellers and Great War pages. But his “pièces de résistance” were the series he made towards the end of his life. The project was very fortunate to get the opportunity to record his voice while he still had the ability to tell his own stories in his own style (“Sgeulachdan Thormoid”), and then to relate his thoughts and memories of Gaelic life in Glasgow and the Islands in a collection of long conversations (“Saoghal Thormoid”). All these recordings are now available on the website under the title “Dìleab Thormoid”. There can be no doubt that this is a very special resource that will keep advanced learners and other researchers very busy in the years to come.

Natural spoken language

Although Island Voices was established for the benefit of learners, it has always sought to capture and curate the natural language of people in the community. Emphasis was placed on Gaelic – or English – as it is spoken, though there is also written support for those who wish it or may find it useful. In this way project users get a taste not just of the languages and how they are really used today, but also of the local island way of life in the multilingual, multicultural world in which we all live.

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