One Gaelic-speaking parent

t is important that both parents are supportive of the children’s Gaelic and ideally the Gaelic speaking parent should only speak Gaelic to the children and spend as much time as possible with them. The non-Gaelic speaking parent can show their support by showing a positive attitude to the use of Gaelic at home, watching Gaelic television programmes and listening to Gaelic radio. If possible, the parent with no Gaelic could start to learn and gradually increase the amount of Gaelic they use with their child and partner. A good idea is to set Gaelic language times when the children are with both parents. The time designated for Gaelic could be increased by degrees.

I am a Gaelic speaker and when we have children I would like to speak to them in Gaelic. My partner however has very little Gaelic and thinks that he will feel excluded if I am speaking a language to the children that he does not understand.

It is important that you and your partner have an open and frank discussion and possibly even write down the advantages and disadvantages of raising your family with more than one language. Try to consider what is in the best interests of the children and your partner may be able to put aside his concerns in favour of the children’s bilingualism.  Provide your partner with materials that will give him information on the advantages of bilingualism. Your partner might think about learning some Gaelic which would enable him to understand at least some of the conversations you will have with your children.

I have will have to leave my children in the care of a childminder who does not speak Gaelic when I go back to work. Will they find it difficult to differentiate between Gaelic and English?

Many working parents will find themselves in a position where they have no option but to leave their children in the care of someone who does not speak Gaelic. If you are consistent about speaking Gaelic to your children they are not likely to have any difficulty differentiating between Gaelic and English. However, children are in the care of an English speaker for eight hours of the day it is probable that their English will be more developed than their Gaelic and they may insist on speaking English to their parents. It is essential that you persist in using Gaelic with them and encourage them to respond in Gaelic but ensure that Gaelic language experience remains a pleasurable one.

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