Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, has entered a new partnership with Duolingo to deliver the app’s popular Scottish Gaelic language course that has attracted over 1.1 million Gaelic learners worldwide.
The announcement that the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture has taken over the development of the Scottish Gaelic Duolingo course comes during World Gaelic Week (Seachdain na Gàidhlig).
The same group of volunteers who have been working on the course since it launched in 2019 will now develop the course as part of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s team.
Today, there are 431,000 active learners worldwide: 37% in the USA, 25% in the UK and 6% in Canada, with the remainder spread across the globe. The primary motivation to learn is ‘Culture’, with 40% of learners choosing this, followed by ‘Brain Training’ 18%, and ‘Family’ and ‘School’, both 12%.
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Principal Dr Gillian Munro said:“This exciting new partnership is a great opportunity to align Duolingo’s Scottish Gaelic language content with our own Gaelic language courses at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.
“The success of Scottish Gaelic on Duolingo demonstrates the growing demand to learn Gaelic both in Scotland and internationally, and we would like to pay tribute to the dedicated volunteers for developing such a great course - ceud mìle taing dhuibh.”
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Adult Learning Manager Màrtainn Mac a’ Bhàillidh also worked as a volunteer on the Duolingo Scottish Gaelic course. He said: m“The Duolingo app is a brilliant learning resource to attract new learners, and to help existing learners and lapsed Gaelic speakers on their learning journey. I look forward to developing the Duolingo course, while promoting further learning opportunities to the growing Scottish Gaelic Duolingo community.”
Colin Watkins, UK Country Manager Duolingo, says: “As the Scottish Gaelic course grew in popularity, it was important for us to find the right partner to continue its development. The fit with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for the Gaelic Language and Culture, is perfect. We’re confident the course will continue to go from strength to strength under the direction of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, who are taking the original development team on board to work on the course.”
Dr Mark Maudsley started using Duolingo to help him on his Gaelic learning journey in 2019 while studying on Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s distance learning An Cùrsa Inntrigidh Gaelic beginners course from his home in Shetland. This then led to a sabbatical from his job as a GP to come and study on Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s immersion course, An Cùrsa Comais.
Mark said: “When I was living in Shetland and learning Gaelic via distance learning with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Duolingo was a great help. I would learn new words and grammar every day on Duolingo, and my Gaelic came on much faster as a result. I had a two year streak! I’m now on Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s full-time immersion course (An Cùrsa Comais) on campus, and using my Gaelic every day. Duolingo really helped prepare me for this course.”
Duolingo's Scottish Gaelic course is available for free on iOS and Android, and at duolingo.com, using game-like experiences to help learners practise and improve their Gaelic language skills.