Indigenous Language Teaching: Principles and Experiences of Activity Based Language Learning in Scottish Gaelic Karate Classes

Alasdair MacMhaoirn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper describes first-hand trials and experience in the development of an activity-based language learning programme to investigate and to improve Gaelic language acquisition and cultural awareness for children in Gaelic Medium Education in two areas of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. This on-going activity programme began in 2008 to help support language usage and accuracy which is often not achieved in school. Four basic design principles have emerged which have been helpful in progressing the children’s language acquisition. These are that to focus on specific language goals is helpful, repetition is necessary, that vocal guides to an activity increase participant’s learning and enjoyment and finally that it is helpful to embed the language in culture. Although the examples described in this paper are specific to Gaelic, it is hoped that these four principles will be helpful in the design and implementation of any other programme of language learning through activities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019



  • Action research
  • Gaelic
  • Indigenous language
  • Language teaching

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