A chairidean choir,
We have been thinking about how our learning programs have evolved over the past few years, and we’re very happy to have been able to create varied opportunities for language learning, in-person and online. The challenge that we see right now is having the appropriate venues for people to actually use the language often enough to develop good conversational facility. Most of our learners know more than they think they do, but lack enough avenues for the kind of casual use of the language that is so important to developing easy familiarity with it and confidence in daily settings. If a couple or a parent and child are learning together they have the ideal partnership for developing fluency. However, most of our students do not have those relationships.
We are considering a couple new formats to open in 2018 to foster more use of the language, at whatever level you are currently comfortable.
One of those options is connecting study partners. This is as simple as it sounds. Two people who are in comfortable range of each other’s language abilities become friends. This is a method used at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye, where they refer to a learning partner as còmhradh-caraid, conversation friend (or perhaps more accurately a dialogue between or among friends). It’s a good label because that’s what we see the friends doing – connecting by phone, Skype, in-person, or however it’s best for at least weekly casual conversations. They can certainly learn new things together, but the main point is to build confidence in using the Gaelic.