Tag Archives: Language learning

There is always time to learn….


It may not come as a surprise to hear that I am quite taken with languages. Despite having English as my mother tongue, I still find it fascinating the way people use words and phrases. Geographically in the same city can have a massive effect on language use and nowhere more so than the dear green place.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of the company of a charming young man for an awards ceremony.
Laugh? Actually thought I might have needed a hand out the venue as my sides were sore laughing. I may have colourful language on occasion ( very rarely of course) but this was quite frankly an aural baptism of east end fire.No degree in semantics and linguistics would help with this at all. It really had and has to be experienced.
That’s what a language is all about. It can be difficult to try to understand what people are saying if you can’t see them – hence why I get annoyed at capitals in a text or email, or the tone doesn’t appear right or there’s no communication at all- quite often we need the non verbal cues to get the meaning of things. Trust me when I say I did but it was indeed a voyage of discovery.
It never fails to astound me that language that I would consider highly inappropriate or maybe even offensive can have other people rolling in the aisles.
There was much rolling in the aisles at said event even if it was at me rather than with me. Much uttering of ” you must know what that means” and much faux rolling of the eyes. Comical actually.
I was recounting this story to some colleagues and asked them if anyone had ever asked the how their derrière was for love bites ( I kid you not) One of the girls nearly fell over but one of the lads said oh aye, that’s someone asking how your love life is. Really?? I don’t recall learning this in the art of making pals and influencing people but apparently it isn’t made up. Apologies H. Wan’s derrière is quite well thank you. There were others but for the sake of protecting my supposed intellect (Wouldn’t want to confess just what an eejit I was) I’ll refrain from expanding.
However in the name of research and a commitment to life long learning, I have decided to undertake an intensive course in east end patter to enhance my literacy skills. My mentor had promised a word a day……think he’s on strike. I’m still thinking about how I get how is your derrière for love bites into a conversation tomorrow…..challenge accepted.
( with my new shoes.)

If you can’t say anything nice….


As a language learner, I have always enjoyed the journey of discovery it has taken me on. Finding out about the music, history, customs, food and ideas is just magical. Language is such a precious thing and part of the lifeblood of a nation. Even better is the richness of different languages in once country, it makes for a colourful tapestry of ideas, history and vision.
Having had the privilege of learning a language and teaching a language, I have always felt protective of languages. Perhaps this comes from having had such a rich experience, met the most wonderful people, had some amazing adventures and above all never lost my love to communicate.
To see the vitriol currently being aimed at Gaelic at the moment, I can honestly say I find it heard to comprehend. For some reason it seems to bring out the very worst in people who know hee haw about it. It’s getting a huge amount of press at the moment as the government have announced funding to further support Gaelic teaching and learning.
Investing in education. Imagine that. That’s a pure sin.
If these critics had any ideas about what is actually spent on Gaelic Medium Education they would be asking for lessons in creative accounting. Believe you me, there is nowhere near ENOUGH funding for it and the sustainability of it is something we are constantly trying to manage. Gaelic medium education has grown at such a rate, it is something we should celebrate,not criticise.
In many European countries, bilingual education is the norm and it starts from nursery education. We pale into insignificance when on a linguistic playing field and what with a potential exit from the European Union, language skills are going to be more in demand than before. A possible referendum on independence may see us even more in need of the ability to communicate with others.
People have many different reasons for speaking and learning Gaelic. I don’t understand the marmite effect it seems to have on people. Other countries not only promote their many languages but do so in other countries. ( and throw significant financial backing to it )
We struggle here to find an acceptance for Gaelic Language learning and many people query its place in education. Why single out Gaelic? (and don’t start that dead language nonsense, it’s not dead. Deal with it) There are many things on the curriculum that I learned that I have never ever used. Gaelic medium education is a choice and is not forced on people. Comments on a recent radio show about validity only highlighted the misconceptions about bi lingual education.
People getting annoyed when they know nothing about it but think that if they shout then it will give their argument more depth.
I think not.
What’s that saying, if you can’t say anything nice……..

A burns supper with a twist…..



What a smashing smashing night. Mad day, but what a hoot, we did the very first Burns Supper in school for the weans and staff and it was magic.
All for our senior linguists and they absolutely loved it. I couldn’t believe just how much they went for it. We had tartan frocks, boots, jackets, scarves the lot. I laughed from start to finish as I got to share a wee bit of the stuff that I love with the weans.
The opening welcome did contain the sentence ” most of you won’t have a clue what is going , but don’t worry, you will have a lovely time”
Could be a lovely description of some classes, no?
Our speakers were out of this world and we laughed our socks off. Some of my pupils did a most beautiful version of red red rose and I had a greet. I could not be prouder of these weans if I was their mammy.
Not a lot of staff there but then it was for kids and the important thing was they were there. They were desperate for selfies and spent a lot of time squealing with happiness at daft things , it was a joy to listen to.
I was brought up on Burns so it is normal to me but tonight we opened up another wee window on the world for the weans.nwe gave them the ultimate language learning experience. We surrounded them with art, music, culture, food and literature. We listened to songs, poems and stories, to music, speeches and thoughts.
We looked at art, tried the food,wore the clothes and heard all sorts of new words and can I tell you, there was much laughter.

If carling did perfect lessons……’till all the seas gang dry.

Aye, we’re ok …..



Monday proved to be a strange on. It was a sandwich of meetings with a visit to the hospital in the middle. First meeting was positive with 4 of us looking at some pretty ambitious planning and training but exciting and perhaps quite innovative. I also had a quiet realisation that just when i thought i had a handle of something, the goalposts were made clearer and my perception of what was possible was suddenly made a wee bit smaller. Perhaps not a bad thing. I still feel like a primary one in the sense of having that awe and wonder about how things ACTUALLY work. Sometimes we can get stuck as teachers and dont look for the ah! or wow!factor in our day-to-day practice.

We then finally had the referral for the wee lady to hospital. Even though i knew it would be ok, you still can’t help but be filled with dread incase something sinister appears. The staff were wonderful and the wee lady came out saying how hospital is awesome. The doctor was lovely but it was the nurse doing her pre op assessment that made me laugh. There was no messing with her, she was down to earth, professional but knew fine well i was sitting there with my heart in my mouth. She put on a posh voice to answer the telephone and a big smile to talk to my daughter. She commented on her leopard print doc martins and asked her about school. The little lady is a great judge of character and tool to her straight away.
We now play the waiting game for the date and while i know she’ll be fine, the very thought of her having a general anaesthetic fills me with untold dread. However….
It needs to be about giving the positive vibes and wearing the supermammy cape when inside I’m a mess. (Make up and shoes disguise it all)

It did raise a smile when one of my pals text me to say “shouldnt laugh but they’ll probably need to knock you out too” you are not wrong. But it would be more than a GA I would need. Horse tranquilizers maybe.

The amount of wee messages asking about the wee lady and how I was lovely – and a wee hiya and are you ok was reassuring. Even the ones about me needing to be knocked out.

Talking of which, I did feel the urge to sit on my hands at a meeting later in the evening. I know a little enthusiasm and passion goes a long way but when people try to tell me about language learning and how we need worksheets or word lists it makes me want to get the nearest chair and chuck it at them or out a window.
Really? I mean come on people. We are passed this.
Last night was a case of “that’s the way I learned ergo it’s ok”
Aye, i used to think a fringe and tie dye trousers were pretty ok as well.
My lovely knight stepped in beautifully as i readied my chair. Waters were calmed but my inner hobbit was waving her fists with the huff-o-meter going berky.
However, all sorted but a plan to go forward I think…..

Yesterday was a day of wee things, important things and i suppose you cant under-estimate the power of a wee thing. A hug, a hello and a how are you.

Mammy points – going for gold.
Methodology – perhaps not directly in class but some decent blue sky thinking
Manolos – red dorothys all the way.