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Gaelic Classes take off in Caithness

14th May 2013

A series of new Gaelic classes have taken off in Caithness and attendances are much higher than expected. The new purpose made course for beginners and intermediate learners of the language in the county has been well supported in Wick since it started in the Pulteney Centre at the end of March with 19 registered attendees. The course is about to start at the North Highland College UHI in Thurso next Wednesday 22nd May at 7.15pm registration for anyone who is interested in learning the language in the north end of the county.

Raymond Bremner, one of the tutors delivering the course said We are delighted that this initiative has been well supported on both sides of the county. The classes started in Wick in the Pulteney Centre at the end of March and the attendance has remained consistently high throughout the beginning of the course. The course will now start in Thurso in the North Highland College and we already have a considerable number of people registered for the first evening. We are delighted with the standard of facilities in the county both in the new Pulteney Centre in Wick and in the Centre for the Environment at the North Highland College.

The course is being delivered using modern IT tools including smart-board technology as well as PowerPoint presentations and printed materials specially created for the course. These all support the conversation element which engages students in a practical way, with visits to cafs, walks through the towns, barbeques, weekend excursions to Gaelic speaking areas all part of the course options.

Raymond Bremner went on to say: We have plans to engage the local Gaelic speaking community to support the learners as well as including fluent Gaelic speakers to support and provide conversation opportunities over and above the classroom and workshop environment. The course was meant to be a simple conversation course however, we are now realising that the learning of the group is at a greater level than first considered and they are actually now learning to build the language for themselves.

Support funding for the courses in Wick and Thurso has been secured from the Highland Council and Brd na Gidhlig.

Councillor Hamish Fraser, Chair of Highland Council Gaelic Implementation Group said:Were delighted to see such an interest from people wanting to learn Gaelic in the Wick, Thurso and surrounding areas.

One of the key performance results with The Councils Gaelic Language Plan is to increase the number undertaking adult Gaelic learning during the life span of the Plan. He continued, The Council is the largest provider of Gaelic Education and organises a wide range of community related Gaelic activity for people of all ages, therefore, I wish each learner every success on the pathway to learning Gaelic. Id also like to take this opportunity to thank the tutors who are based in the communities, for their time and commitment in introducing Gaelic to many people across the Highlands, they are ambassadors for the language.

Shona Paterson, Gaelic Community Officer Highland Council said: Im delighted that the classes are running in the North Area, when I visited the area, and met with community groups and tutors it is evident that there is a demand for learning Gaelic in the area, therefore it is important to provide support to the groups and individuals as they will be the Gaelic speakers of the future.

Raymond added: Highland Council have given great support to the initiative and their officers have attended the county to discuss course material and monitor the delivery.

Eleanor Constable from Keiss, one of the students currently attending the course in Wick said: I think the course is an excellent course, its very lively and the participants are very enthusiastic. It has turned out to be a lot more enjoyable than I had imagined, you dont really realise youre learning as much as you go along because of the level of interactivity which I think is the secret of the course. Its very sociable and Im looking forward to the rest of the course. It is also surprising to find out just exactly how much of a bridge there is between the Gaelic and the Norse which you come to realise along the way.

Gaelic classes continue in Wick on a Wednesday evening in the Pulteney Centre at 7.30pm. Although the course is closed to new learners, those wishing to learn are encouraged to contact the Pulteney Centre and to leave their name and a contact number. Once there is enough interest a second class will be started and it may be possible to run a day-time class in the future.

Gaelic classes start in Thurso in the North Highland College UHI on Wednesday 22nd May at 7.15pm for registration. If you cannot attend the first evening, please contact 07765 420 971 or email gaidhligannangallaibh[AT]gmail.com as it is possible to join within two weeks of the first evening, thereafter the course closes to new learners. Classes are 3 per evening and the course lasts for 26 weeks.

A second year of classes follows immediately after the first year in 2014 both in Wick and in Thurso.

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