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Using TV and radio to complement your learning

Learning a language is not unlike learning to play a musical instrument – if you want to improve, you have to practise quite a bit between the lessons.

Learning a language is not unlike learning to play a musical instrument – if you want to improve, you have to practise quite a bit between the lessons. But, this doesn't necessarily mean just speaking for hours on end each day with your favourite fluent speaking friends, although that would be ideal (but, don't forget that phoning for regular sessions - Gaelic only - is another excellent way to drive your learning). There are also a number of very useful ways to help develop your understanding of spoken Gaelic and breadth of vocabulary. Bring Gaelic conversation into your own home, or wherever else you're learning, through digital media.

We have a tremendously rich resource in the BBC: on radio, television and online. Their website has a wide variety of interesting and useful articles and news updated daily. It also provides links to further information and access to earlier broadcasts. Litir do Luchd Ionnsachaidh and An Litir Bheag are excellent examples of this.

At the moment, there's a programme on Radio nan Gàidheal called "Tocher @ 40". Tocher is the School of Scottish Studies' journal, which has been published now for over 40 years - a storehouse of songs, folklore, stories and much more. In this programme, the presenters discuss various stories that have appeared in Tocher over the years, which learners may find particularly interesting.

Something completely different is "Grinn", a TV programme on BBC Alba, on Friday nights. Every week, one lucky person receives fashion advice and a make-over from the Grinn team. You'll hear different dialects from those appearing, which is a natural part of using Gaelic these days, and because the context is readily understood, you'll more easily get to know the sort of vocabulary associated with fashion and style. The programme is fun and fairly easy to follow – perfect for learners. Perhaps, you'll want to start a conversation about style at your next Ùlpan class?!

A wee bit of advice however – when watching or listening to online material, do so a few times first without reading the subtitles or the online text. Watch programs on the BBC iPlayer at least twice with a piece of card over the bottom of the screen so that you can't see the subtitles at all. This allows you to concentrate more on the Gaelic, rather than simply following the meaning in English. Your English probably is good enough already!

TV and radio programmes and a wealth of online material are available at www.bbc.co.uk/alba Let us know how you get on through our new blog

Good luck!

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