Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Talking with Magaidh Smith

08/02/2019 1 comment

Facebook turns up gems sometimes! A reply to a post in the “Scottish Gaelic Speakers Unite!” group led Gordon Wells to uncover a new (to him) Gaelic treasure trove – the online world of Magaidh Smith. Old classmates from the early days of Ceòlas, they met again this week, this time in Glasgow, when Gordon was able to quiz Magaidh on what she’s been up to in more recent years, including traditional tales, drama, poetry and local history. She’s not been idle!

Clearly, Magaidh’s work chimes nicely with the Guthan nan Eilean orientation towards capturing local voices and providing them with a wider platform. We’ll be watching this space closely!

In the meantime here’s a table of Magaidh’s Soundcloud recordings of stories from local Lewis tradition.

Story Description Links
S daor a cheannaich mi fiadhachd MacAulay men at Loch Langabhat and the landmark Clach Bhess Magaidh’s blog post
An Seann Fhiadh Deer hunting at Loch Langabhat on the border of Lewis and Harris in days gone by. Who was the wee wizen man? Soundcloud
Fir Mhealista Mealista men who went to gather a cargo of wood for roof timbers. A love story and what is extant of a dream song. Soundcloud
Sabaist Mhor Wick Circa 1870 when the herring fishing was booming a large number of fishing boats were in Wick Harbour when a fight broke out. This account includes details of men from Lochs who were in the fracas. Soundcloud
Ishbal Nighean Dhomhaill Ban The love Story of Ishbal nighean Dhomhnaill Ban an t-Struim who herded the cattle in Uig and Calum MacAmhlaigh from Harris. Magaidh’s blog post

STOP PRESS UPDATE – 15/04/19. Island Voices now has a Magaidh Smith page with a full collection of her online recordings, all supplemented with Clilstore transcripts. Check it out!


Categories: Audio, CALL, Classes, Community, Research, UGC

Island Voices MOOT

27/01/2019 4 comments

People sometimes ask what kind of project Island Voices is. There’s no one simple answer to that question, as there are various ways of thinking about it. Here’s a new one for 2019, which actually raises another question for our followers. Any answers or comments welcome!

You’ve heard of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). Well, Island Voices, while being a fundamentally educational online project, doesn’t do “courses”. We don’t take anyone step by step from A all the way to Z in a pre-determined order. The learning we aim to help is “resource-based” – we put material online for anyone to browse or sample or use in any way they see fit. That means it’s up to the learner to think about and shape their own learning path. This can seem scary or off-putting for some, particularly in the beginning stages of language learning, while others may find it liberating and empowering, especially when they’ve already got past the preliminary steps. Obviously, we would hope that we can help move folk from the first camp into the second.

Also, while we started out from a language teaching perspective, our interest is wider than simply helping people to learn Gaelic, or English (or any other language), irrespective of how they might subsequently use it. We’ve always tried to present the “bits of language” that we place online in the real-life context of the community in which they were recorded. We try to recognise, record, and represent the social factors at play which influence the linguistic decisions people make when a range of different language choices is at hand. That’s partly why, alongside the several pages of video and audio clips plus transcripts on our site, there’s an additional page for research and reports which attempt to tease out some of the wider issues, for example around bilingualism or biliteracy, which are not necessarily immediately clear if you’re approaching from a different or narrower language background or perspective. This may mean re-thinking some pretty fundamental concepts, even around what we understand by a term such as “language” or “languages”. These are questions which may be quite as meaningful for language teachers or mentors (and perhaps planners and policy makers) as for learners themselves.

Further, we do not claim some higher teacher’s authority that pours knowledge into the “empty vessel” heads of our visitors/followers/learners. We can never present a more than partial picture of the communicative community on which we focus. We make no promises not to leave you with as many questions as you started with – perhaps more – though we’d hope some at least will be newly formulated!

So, instead of trying to think of Island Voices as some kind of “course”, perhaps a more appropriate model might be a “teach-in” – which is “practical, participatory, and oriented toward action” and where “discussion and questions from the audience are welcome”. Wikipedia tells us that this concept has a radical political background. Well, that’s no disqualification! In a current UK climate in which language teaching of any kind (including of English!) is making difficult headway, and support for bi- or multi-lingualism is struggling to gain traction, we may be well advised to open ourselves up to more lateral thinking, and to be prepared to consider outwardly counter-intuitive solutions. And the Hebrides may be as good a place to start as any, perhaps better than most!

So let’s forget about an Island Voices MOOC. What we offer is a “Multilingual (or perhaps Massive/Medium-sized/Mini) Open Online Teach-in” – the Island Voices MOOT! Etymonline tells us the word has a long history connoting free assembly to discuss community affairs. What could be more appropriate, especially when you consider the Gaelic word Mòd stems from the same root, and was long ago used to denote a parliament or congress, dating from the Lordship of the Isles!

Our source materials, to which we shall continue to add, are already placed before you on WordPress, Clilstore, and YouTube, and we know that plenty of folk have already put them to good use without further prompting. Hopefully, our Facebook and Twitter channels will keep on pulling in new visitors too. But here’s the question: should we also aim to create a new “teach-in” space? This could be a dedicated online forum where MOOT participants can raise questions and debate points around language learning and language use, informed by their interactions with, and reactions to, Island Voices materials of all kinds – video, audio, transcripts, articles, papers etc. Or is the comment facility we already have on WordPress adequate as it stands? Is there a danger a new forum would detract from other online fora and/or Facebook discussion groups? Comments here please (or on Facebook/Twitter)!

Categories: CALL, Community, Research

“Website to Watch”

21/12/2018 Leave a comment

Kind words from “An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach” (The American Scottish Gaelic Society) in their latest “An Naidheachd Againne” newsletter (Winter 2018, Volume XXXIV, No. 4). Mòran taing, a chàirdean! Back copies of their regular newsletter are available online. Plenty of interesting reading there!

Categories: Community

Skol-Veur C’houezelek Bro-Skos

12/11/2018 Leave a comment

Teul-film berr evit an deskidi diwar-benn Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skol-Veur C’houezelek Bro-Skos.

Film aithriseach goirid ann am Breatnais airson luchd-ionnsachaidh mu dheidhinn Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

Short Breton documentary about Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland’s Gaelic College.

While you watch and listen you can read a transcript here with online dictionary access to every single word on Clilstore Unit 7207:

Many thanks to Fañch Bihan-Gallic for the latest “Other Tongues” addition to our Sharing Gaelic Voices theme! Fañch is also a keen Gaelic scholar, with an interest in the informal learning of the language. And outside his formal studies he is an active member of the Misneachd campaign group.


Categories: CALL, Classes, Community, UGC, Video

Reading Aloud Symposium

23/10/2018 1 comment

Island Voices will be involved in some “remote outreach” work next month, when Gordon Wells speaks at this symposium at the UCL Institute of Education in London. This kind invitation follows the visit of Sam Duncan, the co-ordinator of the Reading Aloud in Britain Today project, to the Hebrides as part of her research work.

The notice below gives details of all speakers and how to book a place.

(There is an option of registering on a waiting list in the event of all places being taken).


Saturday 17th November 2018

The Reading Aloud in Britain Today (RABiT) Symposium

Everyday Reading: Explorations of Literacy and Oracy


Please join us at the UCL Institute of Education (London) for a day of presentations and discussion examining forms of reading aloud, everyday reading and relationships between literacy and oracy, in and out of the classroom.

We are delighted to welcome:

Andrey Rosowsky (University of Sheffield) Heavenly Reading – the oral/aural nature of reading sacred texts

Catherine Sadler (University of Hull) Reading aloud and poetry

Gordon Wells (Co-ordinator of the Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean online community project) Reading Island Voices: Issues around the primacy of speech and the privileging of literacy, from a Hebridean viewpoint.

Jenny Hartley (Emeritus Professor Roehampton University and co-founder of Prison Reading Groups) Twenty Years Behind Bars: Reading Aloud in Prison Reading Groups

Jo Westbrook, Julia Sutherland & Jane Oakhill (University of Sussex) Faster, immersive reading of whole texts

Kevin Harvey (School of English, the University of Nottingham) & Susan Jones (School of Education, the University of Nottingham) Whose meaning is it anyway? The communal construction of meaning in shared reading groups

Lionel Warner (University of Reading) Reading Aloud in the high school: why do they keep doing it?

Maxine Burton (freelance scholar) Reading Aloud in 19th century England: some evidence from Victorian fiction

Russell Aldersson (City Literary Institute) Re-thinking “aloud” in the context of sign language users 

Sue Walters (UCL Institute of Education) Reading as recitation in faith school settings:  Issues for learning and teaching

Victoria Watkins (UCL Institute of Education) Reading Year 7 and Year 12 Reading Partnerships

And an update from the Reading Aloud in Britain Today (RABiT) project.

Please come along and join the discussion. The day will start at 1030am and close at 5pm. Lunch and refreshments provided. This day is free but places are limited. Please register using this link If the event is showing up as full, please email Sam on to join a waiting list.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Categories: Community, Research

Sealladh Eòrpach air Saoghal Thormoid

25/09/2018 Leave a comment

Mar a tha fios againn, bha Tormod MacGill-Eain gu math dèidheil air cànain. Bha Gàidhlig agus Beurla aige bho thùs, agus chòrd e ris a bhith ag ionnsachadh feadhainn eile cuideachd – Eadailtis, Frangais, agus Gearmailtis nam measg. Tha sinn air a bhith a’ cluinntinn cuideachd, o chionn treiseag a-nis, mu dheidhinn nan ‘Gàidheileamailteach’ a tha ag ionnsachadh Gàidhlig thall sa Ghearmailt, mar eisimpleir sna clasaichean air an ruith le Mìcheal Klevenhaus aig Acadamaidh na Gàidhlig sa Ghearmailt.

Ann an seachdain Latha Eòrpach nan Cànan, sgrìobh Stefanie Linzer thugainn mu dheidhinn clas san robh i fhèin, far an robh iad a’ cleachdadh Saoghal Thormoid mar stuth-ionnsachaidh. Nach e a bhiodh toilichte agus fios aige gu bheil daoine fhathast cho dèidheil air a bhith ag èisteachd ris – mar a tha sinne aig Guthan nan Eilean gum bi daoine a’ cur na clàraidhean a rinn sinn gu feum! Seo am pìos a sgrìobh Stefanie, le molaidhean glic aice aig an deireadh. Nach math a rinn i!

Gum biodh Latha Eòrpach nan Cànan sona againn uile!

Mar phàirt den chlas Ghàidhlig againn ann am Bonn san Lùnastal 2018, chaidh sinn tron chiad agallamh a rinn Gordon Wells còmhla ri Tormod Mac Gill-Eain. ‘S e “Saoghal Thormoid: Diluain – Sinnsireachd” a th’ air, is dh’innis Tormod dhuinn mu a bheatha is a theaghlach. Chan eil fhios agam an cuala mi Gàidhlig na b’ fheàrr a-riamh.

Ach aig an aon àm feumaidh mi aideachadh gun robh mi a’ faireachdainn caran gòrach a bhith ag èisteachd ris an duine ainmeil seo o chionn ‘s nach do thuig mi ach glè bheag den agallamh aig an toiseach. Bha e cianail doirbh. Le deagh adhbhar cha tug an tidsear an teacsa dhuinn ro làimh an dùil gun leasaich sinn na sgilean againn agus bha sinn uile den bheachd gum b’ e dùbhlan mòr a bha seo. Chaidh faighneachd dhinn dè bha sinn air tuigsinn is cha tàinig mòran às, ach chruinnich sinn còmhla na bh’againn. An uair sin chaidh sinn tron agallamh a-rithist is mhothaich sinn gun do rinn sinn adhartas. Gu fortanach fhuair sinn uile an teacsa às dèidh sin is leis an teacsa nar làimh, dh’fhàs cnag na cùise gu math soilleir a bhith ag èisteachd ris an agallamh is ga leughadh aig an aon àm.

Fhuair sinn tòrr a-mach mu bheatha Thormoid: a theaghlach, a’ Ghàidhlig san teaghlach, a shaoghal nuair a bha e òg is san fharsaingeachd cò leis a bha e. Bha sinn uile den bheachd gum b’ e duine laghach comasach, spòrsail a bh’ ann, fear a bha moiteil às a bheatha gun a bhith mòr às fhèin. A bharrachd air sin dh’ionnsaich sinn an t-uabhas: faclan ùra is abairtean nam measg. Chanainn gun robh sinn fortanach gun robh cothrom a chlàraidh ann fhathast is mholainn an sreath airson luchd-ionnsachaidh ann an saoghal na Gàidhlig. Gabhaibh an cothrom is na caillibh ur misneachd mura tuig sibh a h-uile sìon sa bhad. 

Le Steafanaidh Linzer

Categories: Classes, Community

Ceòlas Course

03/08/2018 Leave a comment

Ceòlas have announced flexible availability on a four-week Gaelic immersion course starting on 20th August. Details can be found on their Immersion Courses page.

“Research by Soillse (G Wells, 2011) also shows the Uist community as a particularly supportive and encouraging environment for Gaelic language learning.”

Categories: Classes, Community, Research
%d bloggers like this: