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Feeling optimistic

This is a brief and unplanned post because I wanted to share with you the enthusiasm I have gained from working with people over the past couple of days. Some of you may know that the University of Aberdeen has been piloting the introduction of a Gaelic version of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). There is a post coming which will explain the CEFR in more detail later on. But, for now, I just wanted to give a quick update about how it has felt to be working on the project.

CEFR is a set of milestones that allow you to measure your progress against the four language competences (acknowledging the fact that almost everyone makes progress at different speeds in different competences). Following a study conducted by researchers at Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities, we have done a trial year to demonstrate how useful it is to have these milestones when you are learning. They act as goals that you can aim for on your way to mastering the language.

During these past few months, we have encountered people all over Scotland who are at various stages in learning Gaelic, and I can honestly say that we were very impressed by all of them. The level of enthusiasm on display is tremendous. Just as importantly, we have discovered that there are people who are succeeding in making great progress all over the place, no matter what methods they are following. Some people are learning on their own, some are learning with tutors, some are taking part in courses, and some are learning by working beside fluent speakers in one way or another. Many different paths lead to the top of the mountain, as they say.

The pilot project set up the exams for A1, which is the most basic point on the scale, but I have seen evidence of much higher levels of attainment out there, and I am very excited about looking forward to measuring people's abilities all the way from there to complete proficiency.

To all of the people who sat the CEFR A1 test this week: well done! It was a great pleasure to meet you. To the rest of you who are also learning (or even teaching) this rich and expressive language, leanaibh oirbh!

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