Monday 6 January 2020

Learn Gaelic (Gàidhlig) on Duolingo!

If you fancy learning the Scottish Gaelic language (known in the language itself as Gàidhlig) as a way of trying to reconnect to your Scottish cultural heritage, then I can throughly recommend the Duolingo site at

I've been both learning and using Gaelic on and off over the last 20 years, and have found the Duolingo course, launched just prior to St Andrew's Day last year, to be a fun way to revise and practice, as well as to pick up a few new words. The free version of the app (as accessed on my Android phone) offers daily lessons and challenges, although I have not found how to access the grammar notes which are easier to find on the website. There is a subscription version of the course also with a few more bells and whistles.

One thing I love about Duolingo's Gaelic course is that the website's grammar notes (accessible via the Tips button on each lesson tab) are wonderfully irreverant, with some fun observations. Haggis is described as 'Scotland's mystery mince', whilst at the end of the clothes section it notes with glee 'Congratulations, you have just learned how to tell people if they are wearing clothes or not!'

And here's the comment on the difference between using 'tapadh leat' and 'tapadh leibh' for 'thank you':

"You are very unlikely to offend anyone by choosing the wrong form, and even if you did they probably wouldn't have much craic anyway."

The addition of Gàidhlig to the Duolingo project at the end of last year has already led to 127,000 subscribers, more than twice the current number of fluent native speakers in Scotland (see

I recently started a Gaelic themed genealogy blog at, although I have only posted a couple of items so far due to a heavy workload at the end of last year, but I hope to carry on with it again soon. It's not perfect, but if you read it, you'll see that's the point of it!

Have fun - agus suas leis a' Ghàidhlig!

PS: Duolingo also has Welsh and Irish courses available, for a bit of Celtic variation. And if you wish to prepare for a changed world by the 23rd century, it also offers Klingon - Qapla' !


Order Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet (2nd ed) at and Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry Through Church and State Records at Further news published daily on The GENES Blog Facebook page, and on Twitter @genesblog.

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