Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Reading Island Voices – Aloud!

20/11/2018 Leave a comment

The “Reading Aloud in Britain Today” (RABiT) project is run by Dr Sam Duncan, a teacher, researcher and teacher educator working in adult literacy studies at the UCL Institute of Education in London.

The project is a two-year study which aims to capture the contemporary reading aloud practices of as many different adults as possible across Scotland, England and Wales, and to reach “people of all different ages, genders, ethnicities, faiths, cultural, educational and language backgrounds, in both urban and rural locations”.

Sam organised a symposium on 17th November as a part of her project, with the title “Everyday Reading: Explorations of Literacy and Oracy”.

In a gathering of researchers and educators from around the country, Gordon Wells was delighted to get the opportunity to speak about the Island Voices project, and its own approach to speech and writing and the uses made of Reading Aloud. Gordon’s subject was “Reading Island Voices: Issues around the Primacy of Speech and the Privileging of Literacy, from a Hebridean Viewpoint”. You can read the script of his talk here.

It’s probably best to read it online so you can make use of the embedded links and clickable screenshots to supporting video clips and other webpages. There are also some added footnotes with further information and references.

It’s not a long document, but if you’ve only got time for a short browse these Powerpoint presentation slides may give you a quick impression of the ideas covered. If you find them interesting, then do try and find the time to return and read through the talk to see how the ideas are linked.

It’s been a long time since Gordon made a work journey in the UK so far from his own geographical centre, and he was pleased to find a strong level of interest in Island Voices in such a remote location! Finally meeting up with David Mallows, the editor of Innovations in English Language Teaching for Migrants and Refugees (which contains a chapter on Island Voices), among the other innovative thinkers present in Applied Linguistic, Language Education, and related fields, was an added bonus.

Nach math gu bheil ùidh aig daoine eile anns na tha sinn a’ dèanamh!

Categories: Research

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

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

“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

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.

Coimhead air ais air Guthan nan Eilean

15/12/2017 Leave a comment

Tha 10 bliadhna air a dhol seachad on a thàinig Sreath 1 dhe na bhideothan aig Guthan nan Eilean a-mach air DVD. Tha am pròiseact air fàs gu mòr on uair sin ann an diofar dhòighean. Tha a h-uile rud air-loidhne a-nis (seach air DVD); chuir Sreath 2 (Outdoors, Generations, Enterprise) gu mòr ris an uiread de bhideothan air an dèanamh le luchd-obrach a’ phròiseict; agus tha muinntir nan eilean agus buidhnean sa choimhearsnachd air a dhol an-sàs ann an stuthan ionnsachaidh a chruthachadh dhaibh fhèin. ’S dòcha gur e an aon rud nach eil air atharrachadh gu bheil an cuideam as truime fhathast ga chur air feuchainn ri clàradh Gàidhlig sam bith a thig a-mach às a’ phròiseict a stèidheachadh air beatha nan Gàidheal anns na h-eileanan. Gabhaidh sin fhaicinn fiù ’s sna sreathan às ùire – “Sgeulachdan Thormoid” agus “Saoghal Thormoid” anns an d’ fhuair am pròiseact stòiridhean agus còmhraidhean le Tormod MacGill-Eain san dà bhliadhna mu dheireadh, agus e air seatlaigeadh air ais ann an Uibhist.

Taic do luchd-ionnsachaidh

Thòisich Guthan nan Eilean (le taic bhon Aonadh Eòrpach) mar sgeama airson taic shìmplidh a thoirt do luchd-teagaisg agus do luchd-ionnsachaidh le bhith a’ cleachdadh teicneòlas ùr. Mar sin, bho thùs tha am pròiseact air a bhith airson comasan a leasachadh measg dhaoine sa choimhearsnachd ann a bhith a’ cruthachadh agus a’ sgaoileadh stuthan ionnsachaidh. Leis gu bheil barrachd stuth ann airson luchd-tòiseachaidh, san fharsaingeachd, na tha airson daoine a tha airson cumail orra gu fileantas, chuir am pròiseact cuideam air stuthan aig ìre caran nas àirde na an àbhaist – le measgachadh de phrògraman aithriseach, agus agallamhan le daoine sa choimhearsnachd a’ bruidhinn gu nàdarra. ’S e sin an seòrsa rud a tha ri fhaotainn ann an Sreathan 1 agus 2, le taic a bharrachd ann tro Chlilstore a bheir dhut an tar-sgrìobhadh air-loidhne cuide ris an fhilm fhèin.

Air an dèanamh leis a’ choimhearsnachd

An dèidh na sreathan sin, dh’atharraich an dòigh-obrach sa phròiseact. Chan e an luchd-obrach a chruthaich na stuthan ùra, ach daoine sa choimhearsnachd fhèin. Chìthear sin, mar eisimpleir, air na duilleagan “The Great War” no “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, sreathan a chaidh a dhèanamh ann an co-obrachadh le Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath agus Stòras Uibhist, far an do rinn daoine mar Màiri Mhoireasdan, Tommy Dòmhnallach is eile an clàraidhean fhèin airson sgaoileadh air làrach a’ phròiseict. San dòigh seo fhuair am pròiseact stòiridhean ùra aig ìre fiù ’s nas fhaisge air a’ coimhearsnachd, agus bha cothrom aig daoine ùra a dhol an-sàs san obair agus sgilean a leasachadh.

Meadhanan sòisealta agus cànanan eile

Thòisich am pròiseact air-loidhne air WordPress (airson làrach-lìn) agus YouTube (airson nam filmichean). Ach an uair sin chaidh duilleag Facebook a chur air dòigh airson cuideachadh le fios a sgaoileadh mu na bha a’ dol anns a’ phròiseact agus anns a’ choimhearsnachd. Tha cunntas Twitter ann cuideachd, agus a-nis tha timcheall air 3,000 luchd-leantainn ann uile gu lèir, a tha sgapte air feadh an t-saoghail. Bho thùs bha am pròiseact ag obair gu dà-chànanach le Gàidhlig agus Beurla. Ach, mar a tha cùisean air fàs is air leasachadh, tha cànanan eile air nochdadh ann, leithid Gàidhlig na h-Èireann, Cuimris, Basgais, is eile. Aon uair is gun tòisich iad air cànan ùr ionnsachadh tha an ùidh aig cuid a’ fàs ann an dà-chànanas, agus mar as urrainn dhaibh cànanan eadar-dhealaichte a chleachdadh còmhla.

Tormod MacGill-Eain

’S dòcha gum b’ e Tormod MacGill-Eain an duine a bu chliobhaire gus sin a thuigsinn, agus e aig an aon àm fear dhe na daoine a b’ fheàrr airson sgeulachdan Gàidhlig is eile a chlàradh. As dèidh dha tilleadh a dh’Uibhist rinn e pìos no dhà airson Sreath 2 an toiseach. Chaidh e an-sàs anns na duilleagan “Storytellers” agus “Great War” cuideachd. Ach ’s e na “pièces do résistance” aige na sreathan a rinn e aig deireadh a bheatha, agus bha am pròiseact gu math fortanach gun d’ fhuaras an cothrom a ghuth a chlàradh fhad ’s a bha an comas fhathast aige gus na stòiridhean aige fhèin innse san stoidhle aige fhèin (“Sgeulachdan Thormoid”) agus, an uair sin, a bheachdan agus a chuimhneachan air beatha nan Gàidheal eadar Glaschu agus na h-Eileanan a mhìneachadh ann an sreath de chòmhraidhean fada (“Saoghal Thormoid”). Tha na clàraidhean sin uile rim faighinn a-nis ann an aon àite air làrach a’ phròiseict fon tiotal “Dìleab Thormoid”. Agus chan eil teagamh ach gur e stòras sònraichte a tha seo a chumas luchd-ionnsachaidh adhartach agus luchd-rannsachaidh eile gu math trang sna bliadhnaichean ri teachd.

Gàidhlig mar a tha i ga bruidhinn

Ged ’s ann airson luchd-ionnsachaidh a chaidh Guthan nan Eilean a stèidheachadh, tha e air a bhith a’ feuchainn bho thùs ri bhith a’ glacadh agus a’ cleachdadh cànan nan daoine fhèin anns na coimhearsnachdan. Chaidh cuideam a chur air Gàidhlig mar a tha i ga bruidhinn – ged a tha taic sgrìobhte ann cuideachd dhaibhsan a tha ga h-iarraidh air neo a tha ga faighinn cuideachail. Mar sin tha luchd-chleachdaidh a’ phròiseict a’ faighinn blasad chan ann a-mhàin air a’ chànan agus mar a tha Gàidhlig air a cleachdadh ann an dha-rìreabh san latha an-diugh, ach cuideachd air dòigh-beatha eileanach nan Gàidheal san t-saoghail ioma-chànanach, ioma-chultarach anns a bheil sinn beò.


Dìleab Thormoid

18/09/2017 3 comments

Tha beagan ùine air a dhol seachad a-nis on a chaochail Tormod MacGill-Eain (31/08/17) aig aois 80 bliadhna. Agus chaidh tòrr a sgrìobhadh ma dheidhinn mar-thà, ann am pàipearan naidheachd is eile, far an deach a mholadh gu mòr:

The Times (Peter Ross)
The Herald (Phil Davison)
The West Highland Free Press (Angus Peter Campbell)
Bella Caledonia (Jamie Chambers)
The Scotsman (John MacLeod)

Mar a thuirt sinn air Facebook agus Twitter aig an àm, chan eil na faclan againne airson rud nas brìoghmhor na na chaidh a sgrìobhadh shuas a ràdh mun duine fhèin. Ach ’s e rud mòr mòr a rinn Tormod airson Guthan nan Eilean thairis air na bliadhnaichean, agus tha còir againn an dìleab a dh’fhàg e dhuinn a chomharrachadh le taing agus meas mòr.

’S ann ann an 2010, beagan as dèidh dha thilleadh a dh’Uibhist, a thàinig sinn tarsainn air Tormod an toiseach, fhad ’s a bha sinn a’ dèanamh filmichean mu dheidhinn Pàipear Uibhist ann an Dalabrog airson Series 2 Enterpise cuide ri Eairdsidh MacAoidh a bha na neach-deasachaidh aig an àm. Mar a thionndaidh gnothaichean a-mach ghabh e pàirt mhòr sna filmichean aithriseach (Gàidhlig agus Beurla), ach a bharrachd air an sin thug e dà agallamh dhuinn agus dà phìos “to camera” air a thoil fhèin, agus iad sin san stoidhle shònraichte aige ann an guth soilleir làidir. Abair toradh dhuinne agus dhan obair a bha sinn a’ dèanamh!

Ach cha b’ e sin ach toiseach an sgeòil. Beagan bhliadhnaichean an dèidh sin, nuair a bha am pròiseact air gluasad air adhart rud beag, agus a’ feuchainn ri obair chlàraidh a bhrosnachadh sa choimhearsnachd, chaidh Màiri Mhoireasdan a thadhal air Tormod a-rithist, agus e a-nis a’ fuireach ann an Griomasaigh. Bha Màiri a’ sireadh sgeulachdan – agus sin a fhuair i gun teagamh sam bith! Nan robh i dìreach air “Àiridh na h-Aon Oidhche” a-mhàin fhaighinn ’s i a bhiodh toilichte, ach a-rithist, aon uair ’s gun robh Tormod air tòiseachadh bha e doirbh stad a chur air. Agus mar sin fhuair sinn dhachaidh le “Blàr Chàirinis” sa chamara againn cuideachd, agus an dà sgeul sin a’ nochdadh air an duilleag “Storytellers” againn fhèin, ach cuideachd an dèidh sin air an gabhail agus air an leasachadh le TRACS aig an Scottish Storytelling Centre ann an Dùn Èideann.

B’ e an ath rud a bh’ aig Màiri An Cogadh Mòr – pròiseact a rinn i le Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath. Bha pàirt aig Tormod an sin cuideachd, agus tillidh sinn thuice sin aig an deireadh. Ach an uair sin, thàinig am “Big Bang” – dà phròiseact mòr a rinn Tormod air ar son san dà bhliadhna mu dheireadh. ’S e fhèin a dh’fhaighnich an toiseach am biodh ùidh againn ann an sreath de sgeulachdan a bha e air sgrìobhadh a chlàradh. Cha b’ e ruith ach leum dhuinn gabhail ris! ’S iad sin na seachd bhideothan a nochd an toiseach mar “Sgeulachdan Thormoid” ann an 2015. Le tiotalan mar “Mìorbhailtean ann am Barraigh”, “Bodach nan Serviettes”, agus “A Bhean-uasal Nicìomhair à Cnoc an t-Soluis air a’ Bhac” tha fios agad fiù ’s mus cluinn thu iad gu bheil spòrs gu bhith agad gan èisteachd. Agus ged a bha Tormod a’ faireachdainn aois (78) a-nis, agus a’ leughadh a-mach a’ mhòr chuid dhiubh, bha stoidhle aige fhathast na dhòigh-lìbhrigidh.

Agus an uair sin, dìreach an uiridh, lean sinn “Sgeulachdan Thormoid” le “Saoghal Thormoid”, agus iad air an cur còmhla air an aon duilleag “Norman Maclean”. ’S e a th’ ann an “Saoghal Thormoid” ach sreath de chòmhraidhean anns an tug e dhuinn trì uairean gu leth dhen Ghàidhlig as fheàrr a chluinneas tu riamh san latha a th’ ann. Air an cur air dòigh le Soillse tha na clàraidhean sin air a dhol a-staigh dhan Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic (DASG) aig Oilthigh Ghlaschu mar-thà. Faodaidh sinn a bhith cinnteach gun cùm iad sin sgoilearan agus luchd-rannsachaidh chànanachais trang gu leòr sna bliadhnaichean ri teachd! Ach chan ann a-mhàin airson na Gàidhlig aige, ach cuideachd na beachdan agus na cuimhneachan aige air beatha nan Gàidheal an dà chuid ann an Glaschu agus sna h-Eileanan. Mar a thuirt Àrd-Ollamh Conchúr Ó Giollagáin an seo, “Tormod’s life is an acknowledgement of the cultural wealth of Gaelic society, and by virtue of this archive, he represents an ambassador to its future.”

Agus chan eil teagamh ach gun tug an obair sin buaidh shònraichte air Gordon Wells, a rinn na clàraidhean. Mar a thuirt e ann an àite eile, “There’s plenty of laughter and entertainment along the way, of course, but it’s well worth listening to Norman for many other reasons than that: vividly recalled childhood memories of mid-Twentieth Century Glasgow and the Hebrides; open introspection on the community relations issues of those days, and their lingering effects; wide-ranging discussion of creative influences in music, literature, and popular entertainment; all brought right up to date with acute, and sometimes cutting, commentary on current affairs, but topped off with a generous commitment to the continued sharing of cultural gems. And all in language that I, as my mother’s son, can only describe as beautiful.” Nach e a bha fortanach gun d’ fhuair e an cothrom na clàraidhean seo a dhèanamh!

San dealachadh, measg nam molaidhean às gach ceàrn a th’ air tighinn troimhe mu dheidhinn Tormod, gu h-àraid air na bliadhnaichean mu dheireadh aige air ais ann an Uibhist, ’s iomadh duine a th’ air iomradh a thoirt air cho deidheil ’s a bha e air cuideachadh a thoirt don òigridh sna h-eileanan a bha a’ feuchainn ri grèim a chumail air ceòl agus cultar na Gàidhlig. Bha sin cho soilleir ’s a ghabhas san fhilm eile seo a rinn e airson Guthan nan Eilean, san t-sreath “The Great War” a chuir Màiri Mhoireasdan ri chèile. Sgrìobh e na rannan seo gu sònraichte airson na cloinne aig Sgoil Chàirinis (an sgoil dhan deach a mhàthar, agus i air a h-athair fhèin a chall sa chogadh). Tha teachdaireachd shònraichte aige dhaibh, agus chìthear gu soilleir cho mòr ’s a bha e a’ còrdadh ris a bhith ga lìbhrigeadh – agus, gun teagamh, mar a chord e riuthasan a bhith ga èisteachd. Abair dìleab!

Tha ar co-fhaireachdainnean a’ dol dhan teaghlach aige, agus dhan h-uile duine a bha dlùth ris, no a choimhead às a dhèidh sna bliadhnaichean mu dheireadh. Agus tha sinn gu sònraichte an comain Peigi is Mike Townsend a chuidich sinn le bhith a’ cur na clàraidhean mu dheireadh air dòigh, a bharrachd air a h-uile rud eile a rinn iad airson Tormod. ’S cinnteach nach bi a leithid ann a-rithist, ach tha sinn cho taingeil aig Guthan nan Eilean gun robh e cho deònach ar cuideachadh. Ged a bhios e fhèin agus an cànan aige bhuainn a-nis, ’s e a thug eisimpleir dhuinn. Tha cothrom agus còir againn an eisimpleir sin a leantail. Fois shìorraidh dha anam.

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, UGC, Video
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