Canada Research Chair in Music Traditions; Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology
Department: Literature, Folklore and the Arts
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.
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.