Lewis Laing, Family Language Development Officer, Inverness
“I find it especially rewarding to see the progress made by parents and grandparents with their Gaelic, whether that be in beginners’ classes or at the conversation circles.”
1. Why have you chosen to work in a career in Gaelic early years?
Although the work I am involved in currently is different from the previous early years jobs I was employed in , the one thing that drew me into the sector was that everyday is different.
2. Have you always worked in social services?
No-I’ve worked in retail, I have also done a bit of tutoring and was lucky enough to do a traineeship with Stòrlann Nàiseanta a few years ago.
3. Tell us more about your job?
The project that I am currently involved in , is to provide online learning classes for those who are learning the language at the same time as their children or grandchildren. I also look at how we can better support parents who are raising their children with Gaelic in the home by creating spaces and opportunities online , where they can speak honestly and openly about the challenges they face e.g fighting against English or the lack of confidence they have with their own language learning.
4. What inspires you in your job?
That I am part of a big, supportive community – if I have any difficulties or questions about something, I know that there’s someone out there who can offer help and guidance. Gaelic is the main language I use daily in my workplace. I always prioritise Gaelic as much as I can. If parents have Gaelic or if they are learning it , I will ensure that is the language I will use with them.
5. What are the best bits about your job?
One of the best bits about my job is the freedom and flexibility afforded to me to try out new approaches in delivering our support services. Learning a language as an adult can be a real challenge; usually it’s not a lack of ability that hinders us, but rather a lack of confidence. In my role I try to show parents that they can successfully learn Gaelic alongside their children, and that they can learn it to fluency as well, if that’s what they’re aiming for.
6. How do you support the children in learning Gàidhlig?
Children start learning lots of things way before they ever go near a classroom – education starts at home. If we want our young Gaels to be as confident and competent as possible in the language – to the extent that that they are able to pass to the language on to their own children – it is crucial that we provided parents, and families in general, with the opportunity to either learn the language, or improve their language abilities, in order to make Gaelic a normal part of daily life. In my opinion, this is one of the most effective ways in which we, as professionals, can promote the use of Gaelic in the home.
7. In what way is you job rewarding?
I find it especially rewarding to see the progress made by parents and grandparents with their Gaelic, whether that be in beginners’ classes or at the conversation circles.
8. What skills & qualities are needed to do your job?
Not only do you need to be comfortable working with people of different ages, but you also need to be good at encouraging people to keep at it with Gaelic.
9. Has the job opened new opportunities for you?
I hope to still be in this role in five years’ time, as I really want to develop and increase the support services we currently provide.
10. What would you say to someone who was thinking of working in the Gaelic Early years sector?
If you like working with wee ones and their parents and you want to use your Gaelic every day, then I’d recommend considering a career in this sector.
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