Gaelic

Program Snapshot

Guide Gaelic Culture Into The Future

There is no better place to study Gaelic culture in North America than on Cape Breton Island. With so much proud Gaelic history rooted deep in our lands and imprinted along our shores, students come to CBU from around the world for this unique program.

Studying Gaelic at CBU, you will embrace the knowledge and awareness our distinctive history offers, and immerse yourself in the local dialect of Gaelic in Nova Scotia. By first developing students’ ability to speak and understand, we give you the opportunity to work with, and learn from, Gaelic speakers and others who contribute to the vitality of our local Gaelic community. After developing basic conversational skills, you will be introduced to reading and writing to help hone your overall communication skills.

Innovative options are available to advance students’ knowledge and command of the Gaelic language. The Gàidhlig aig Baile (GaB) teaching and learning method, immersion courses, international exchange opportunities and an exciting internship program are offered to students at CBU.

GaB is developed in Nova Scotia based on similar teaching models being used in Scotland and Indigenous communities around the world. GaB develops conversational abilities by immersing students in the language, focusing on oral comprehension and speech. Students acquire the language through activity-based learning, discovering the vocabulary and phrases they need as they complete the activities.

Gaelic at Cape Breton University offers an alternative to more conventional grammar-based Gaelic language instruction. We offer Gaelic as elective courses, a minor in a BA or BACS degree, or as a subject in a BA area major, pairing Gaelic with other subjects and career options.

What skills will I gain from this program?

  • The ability to read, write, speak and understand Scottish Gaelic.
  • A deeper appreciation and understanding of the culture, history and traditional expressions associated with the Gaelic language in Nova Scotia.
  • A greater awareness and understanding of the distinctive Gaelic dialects and communities found in Nova Scotia.
  • Greater familiarity with the Gàidhlig aig Baile teaching and learning methodology, a pedagogy developed in Nova Scotia to target and quickly grow students’ conversational abilities and overall fluency.

Why study at CBU?

Cape Breton is a place where Gaelic culture currently lives in our local communities and is woven into our history and culture. In Nova Scotia, which means New Scotland, you’ll find a different perspective than you would anywhere else on the continent. Specifically, the Gaelic program at CBU is distinctive for its emphasis on the Gàidhlig aig Baile (GaB) methodology, overseas exchange opportunities, and the program’s location on our island – a celebrated region for carrying on the foundations of Gaelic culture.

Here, you can take up to 12 credits of Gaelic through four-week immersion courses offered each May at the Gaelic College. Students from around the world embrace our authentic island lifestyle, taking innovative courses that ensure they live through the medium of Gaelic for the duration of their course. Some even take advantage of the CBU exchange agreement with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO), the Gaelic-medium college on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

Additionally, CBU complements classroom learning with community field trips to visit Gaelic speakers in their homes, learn the history of Gaelic settlers during a trip to the Highland Village or attend a milling frolic. The Gaelic College also has designated learning spaces designed to facilitate GaB teaching and learning.

Finally, students have the option of earning six credits and a small stipend as part of an internship that allows them to work with Gaelic materials and content at an archive, library or museum. The internship provides students with valuable and practical work experience involving Gaelic.

Sample Courses

  • GAEL 1101: Gaelic Language I – this first course is entirely GaB based (reading and writing are introduced in GAEL 1103)
  • GAEL 2102 and 3102: Advanced Gaelic – these courses are offered exclusively as 4-week immersion courses at the Gaelic College each May, emphasizing GaB while providing a homework lab each afternoon and weekly cultural field trips
  • Archival internship: Students have the option of undertaking an internship that involves working with Gaelic materials at institutions such as the Beaton Institute archives or the Cape Breton Regional Library

Possible Career Paths

  • Gaelic teacher (Gaelic is a teachable subject in the Nova Scotia education system)
  • Museums and archives with Gaelic or Celtic content
  • Tourism
  • Arts and culture
  • Government

Experiential Learning Opportunities

  • International exchange agreement with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, a Gaelic-medium college on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
  • An archival internship which could involve working with the Gaelic collections in the Beaton Institute but which may take place in a library or museum outside of CBU.
  • An emphasis on the GaB methodology, an activity-based language learning method.
  • Four-week Gaelic immersion courses at the Gaelic College available for credit each May.

Faculty

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