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Session 2013/14

GH1007: Gaelic for Beginners 1A

15 credit points
12-week course

Course Convener: Dr Marsaili MacLeod

Room Number: Taylor C07
Office Hour: Monday 2-3pm.

Class Meeting Times

Language classes:
Monday 9-10am, Old Senate Room, King’s College Centre
Wednesday 9-10am, MR107 MacRobert
Thursday 9-10am, Lecture Theatre 2 Meston

Oral class: Sign-up on MyAberdeen to an oral class.

This course guide must be read in conjunction with the following:

Gaelic Programme Handbook

(My Aberdeen / Gàidhlig aig Oilthigh Obar Dheathain)
University of Aberdeen Institutional Policies
1. Course Introduction
Course Description
This is a 12-week course in the modern Scottish Gaelic language for students who
have little or no prior experience of the language, or for students with no formal
qualifications in Gaelic. There are four classes per week: three language classes and
one oral/aural class. In the language classes, students will learn the structures,
vocabulary, sounds and writing system of Gaelic. In the oral/aural class, they will
have an opportunity to practise speaking, develop their vocabulary further, and listen
to a native speaker.

None required.

Course Aims
The course aims to provide students with a sound basis in the Gaelic language. The
secondary aim of the course is to give students an understanding of how language
works and an understanding of language learning processes.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to speak, read, write and understand
Gaelic at a basic level. Students will be expected to have mastered a large working
vocabulary and to be competent in understanding and using most of the major
structures of the language.

Course Programme
The course follows a structured programme of language classes, following a custom-
written textbook. The main points in each lesson are contained in the textbook. One
lesson each week will be given over to working from a custom-written workbook or
else to specific lectures on the sounds and spelling of the language. The fourth
lesson will be the oral/aural class, which follows another custom-written workbook
with accompanying language lab work.

Set Books
You will need a copy of the course book, Watson (2012) Progressive Gaelic 1 (ISBN
10: 147-823-325), available to order from Amazon (£8.97), which you should bring
with you to all language classes. Two copies are also available for reference or to
borrow from Heavy Demand in the University Library. The accompanying Workbook
will be available on MyAberdeen only. A hard copy of the oral/aural vocabulary book
will be given to you by the language tutor, Mrs Christina McGonigle and the
accompanying aural skills book will be available on MyAberdeen only.

You do not have to own a Gaelic dictionary just yet, although many people feel that
they want to have one. If you decide to get one, a good starter dictionary is
Robertson, Boyd & Macdonald (2004) Gaelic Dictionary (Teach Yourself), Hodder &
Staughton Ltd. (ISBN-10: 0340753412, ISBN-13: 978-0340753415). You can
purchase it from Blackwell’s Bookshop.

Copies of this dictionary (and many others) are available for reference in, or to
borrow from, the University Library.

2. Teaching Arrangements (i.e. how classes will be
There are three one-hour classes with Dr MacLeod per week, in which you will learn
about the structures of the language. There is one one-hour tutorial with Ms
McGonigle, in which you will practise speaking and listening. The timetable is
published on the departmental Level 1 notice board (ground floor Taylor Building
Block C). There is further self-study work, which you will be free to arrange to your
own convenience.

Language Classes:
The course follows a structured programme of language classes, following a custom-
written textbook. The main points in each lesson are contained in the textbook. Some
lessons will be given over to a custom-written workbook. Apart from assessed work,
students monitor their course work by checking textbook and workbook exercise
answers made available on MyAberdeen. The course co-ordinator encourages
students to submit their exercises for marking.

Oral Class / Clas Còmhraidh

The Clas Còmhraidh is given by Ms McGonigle in tutorial groups. These classes are
designed to practise speaking and aural comprehension skills based on the material
covered in the core language classes, and to extend conversational vocabulary.
Students are required to do listening exercises independently, and submit them for
marking on a weekly basis to the School Office for marking and feedback.

Independent Study:
It is recommended that students spend approximately 8 hours a week working
independently through the textbook, accompanying workbooks and the audio files
outside of class hours. It is essential that students consolidate what has been
covered in class from the textbook and systematically work through the exercises in
the textbook as well as the accompanying class workbook. Students monitor their
homework themselves.

Self-Directed Learning
The more time you spend on Gaelic, the better you will get, if you use your time
wisely. For most people, the best thing to do is to spend several short sessions
working on a language, rather than trying to cram their learning into one or two long
sessions. So, each day, you will be expected to learn a small number of core
vocabulary items. It will also be expected that you will decide to learn additional
words, from those that are in your workbooks or that come up in class. Spend a few
minutes at this several times a day, using the support materials on MyAberdeen, and
try to access BBC Alba radio, TV and online, regularly.

The Cearcall Còmhraidh (Conversational Circle) meets fortnightly and is open to all
students. It is a great chance to practise speaking Gaelic in an informal setting, with
support from fluent speakers. See the Gaelic notice boards for more information.

The Cearcall Seinn (Singing Circle) meets fortnightly and is a fun way to work on
your Gaelic sounds whilst learning Gaelic songs. See the Gaelic notice boards for
more information. You might also be interested to join the Celtic Society to meet
others interested in the language and culture. See the Gaelic notice boards for more

If you are familiar with learning languages using the International Phonetic Alphabet
(IPA), or wish to work more on your Gaelic sounds, we recommend Baeur (2011)
Blas na Gàidhlig: the Practical Guide to Gaelic Pronunciation (ISBN: 978-1-907165-
00-9), which is available to borrow from Heavy Demand in the library. Accompanying
the book are sound files available at no charge from: There you will also find guides on how to read
Gaelic using IPA.

An extended list of recommended resources, including online Gaelic learning

material, audio and video material, software, dictionaries and other cultural heritage
sources, is given in the Appendix.

The Language Centre in the Regent Building stocks a range of Gaelic language
courses as well as audio-visual material to complement your language courses. Try
watching some videos; watch the same programme several times, take note of new
vocabulary and when there are bits you don’t understand immediately listen again
(and again and …).

The Languages Reading Room is situated on the top floor of the Taylor Building in
A59. It is a dedicated room for language students providing dictionaries and journals
for reading practice. Each language society has its own notice board in A59, and
student-led events are scheduled to promote language learning and social contact. If
you find that this room is short of Gaelic materials / events, then be pro-active and
make Gaelic a part of the room, for example by holding conversation circles / lunches
in the room.

3. Assessment
The work of GH1007 will be assessed by a two-hour written examination (60%) and
continuous assessment (40%).

The written examination takes place during the January exam diet, and is based on
the material studied in the prescribed course book. Examples of previous exam
papers will be provided on MyAberdeen. Dr MacLeod will offer a revision session
during revision week (week commencing 13th January). The examination will account
for 60% of your mark.

Please note: dictionaries are not permitted in an examination.

Continuous assessment is in two components:

1. Language class continuous assessment (20%): consisting of three homework

exercises plus an in-class test. The in-class test will be held in Week 9 and
will include vocabulary from ‘Faclan an Latha’ together with any additional
vocabulary given in the language class. Please note that dictionaries cannot
be used in the in-class test. The homework exercises and in-class test will be
considered together and will account for 20% of your mark.
2. Oral/aural class continuous assessment (20%): oral class attendance and
participation and listening exercises to be submitted weekly to Ms McGonigle
will be considered together and will account for 20% of your mark.

Late submission of assessment work will be accepted in exceptional circumstances

only, e.g. in the case of certified illness. In the absence of such evidence, language
work which is submitted late will receive a mark of zero.

Students are required to keep all continuous assessment work carefully in a
folder once it has been marked and returned to them, and to resubmit this folder to
the Languages Secretariat if asked to do so. This is to permit validation by the
external examiner of the grades awarded. The folder of work may be reclaimed from
the Languages Secretariat after the publication of the examination results. The
minimum pass mark is 9.

Students who do not achieve an overall pass at the end of GH1007 may resit the
two-hour written examination in August 2014. The re-sit examination is weighted
100% and previous continuous assessment marks are disregarded. The minimum
pass mark for the resit is CAS 9.

4. Language Class Programme and Assessment Deadlines

NOTE: The course tutor/s reserves the right to alter details in this programme
according to their assessment of student’s progress/needs in class.

Wk Unit/s Main grammar points Deadlines

1 1 The first class will be held on

Using the verb ‘to be’
Mon, 1st October

2 2-3 Saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’

3 4-5 The definite article, nouns and the present


4 6-7 The nominative case

5 8-9 The past tense and possession Homework 1, due Mon, 28th

6 10-11 The dative

7 12-14 Past tense of regular verbs, future tense of Homework 2, due Mon, 11th
verb ‘to be’ Nov.


9 15-16 Negative interrogatives, verbs In-class test

10 17-19 The future tense of regular verbs

11 20-22 The infinitive, possessive pronouns Homework 3, due Mon, 9th


12 Revision, past exam paper

All homework assignments will be distributed at least one week before they are due.
The assessment needs to be typed, and handed into the SLL office no later than 4pm
on the due date. Homework is normally returned to the student within three weeks.

5. Attendance
Attendance at all lessons is expected. Attendance registers will be taken at all
lessons. This register is undertaken as part of our student monitoring system and
also in order to comply with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) regulations, specifically
under Tier 4 (student visas). It is your responsibility to ensure you sign your
name on the class register.

6. Institutional Policies
Students are asked to make themselves familiar with the information on key
institutional policies which been made available within MyAberdeen
( These policies are
relevant to all students and will be useful to you throughout your studies. They
contain important information and address issues such as what to do if you are
absent, how to raise an appeal or a complaint and how seriously the University takes
your feedback.

These institutional policies should be read in conjunction with this course handbook,
and the Gaelic Programme handbook (see My Aberdeen/My Courses/Gàidhlig aig
Oilthigh Obar Dheathain), in which School and College specific policies are detailed.
Further information can be found on the University’s Infohub webpage or by visiting
the Infohub.

The information included in the institutional area for 2013/14 includes the following:

 Absence
 Academic Appeals & Complaints
 The Grade Spectrum (Undergraduate & Postgraduate)
 Codes of Practice on Student Discipline (Academic and Non-
 Common Assessment Scale
 Class Certificates
 Transcripts
 MyAberdeen
 TurnitinUK
 Feedback Framework
 Communication
 Aberdeen Graduate Attributes
 The Co-Curriculum

Recommended online resources for self-study

The following online Gaelic resources are recommended:

BBC Alba: for excellent learner resources. Freeview

Channel 8. In particular, study An Litir Bheag: the weekly Gaelic Podcast
for Beginners, including accompanying text. Start at 001:

Alkerbeltz: for information on Gaelic grammar, the sound and spelling

system and much more - useful for working on your authentic sounds

Taic: Gaelic grammar lessons, with accompanying sound files and excellent

Stòr-dàta: online dictionary:

Am Faclair Beag: a bidirectional Gaelic-English dictionary with Dwelly


Gaelic Orthographic Conventions (GOC): useful guidance on spelling,

grave accents, hyphens and other orthographic conventions.

Uicipeid na Gàidhlig: The free encyclopaedia:

Tobar an Dualchais: an ongoing project to digitise Gaelic oral history,

song and more. Great material:

Cainnt mo Mhàthar: a website showcasing video and audio recordings of

Gaelic speakers in Nova Scotia:

Bliadhna nan Oran, the Gaelic song database:

The Gaelic Resources Database: lots of interesting things in Gaelic about


Stòrlann: the organisation responsible for Gaelic materials in school
education, with excellent resources online and to purchase:

Guthan nan Eilean: video materials in English and Gaelic from Uist.

Clì, the national Gaelic Learners’ membership association, which publishes

the quarterly bilingual magazine ‘Cothrom’.

An Dearbhair: the Gaelic spellchecker available to download:

Firefox: Mozilla's browser in Scots Gaelic (with a spellchecker)

For lots of other Gaelic software, visit iGà

For further information on learning Gaelic visit:
For further information on Gaelic books visit: