2015 CAER/Soillse Conference: 28th – 30th May

January 29, 2015

Bilingual Education and Language Revitalisation: From Theory to Practice

We are pleased to provide advance notice of the second Soillse conference, ‘Bilingual Education and Language Revitalisation: From Theory to Practice, which is being held in conjunction with CAER, the Education Society of the European Regions, and hosted by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI.

Overall Rationale

There is unprecedented public support and political will for Gaelic to be revitalised and maintained as an everyday language in Scottish life. Interventions in education, media and public affairs are markedly changing the way Gaelic is adopted and used. Concurrently, changing societal conditions are giving rise to increasingly fluid and diverse ways of being a bilingual Gaelic speaker. The nature, scale and pace of these transformations in Gaelic bilingualism present a set of new challenges for initiatives to support the learning and use of Gaelic. These transformations are not unique to Gaelic, but extend to Irish, Welsh, Euskara, and other minority languages in European society.

This conference aims to provide a forum for Gaelic and other minority language practitioners, educationists, activists, policy makers and researchers to explore and exchange research findings, experience and perspectives in minority language teaching and learning and bilingualism. Building on the success of the first Soillse conference organised in 2011, the conference will again be a platform for analysis and debate over the changing use of minority languages. It aims to stimulate fresh perspectives on language revitalisation and to identify new areas for collaboration.

The two-day conference will consist of key note presentations delivered by eminent guest speakers on bilingualism, and moderated workshops which have been divided into six thematic areas:
• Language socialisation and the community
• The media in the language revitalisation debate
• Dynamic pedagogy and methodologies in minority language education
• Adult learners and community language learning
• Professional engagement with the speaker community
• Education and reversing language shift

We invite language planners, language educators, service providers, language activists and researchers to take part in the analysis and debate over minority language sociolinguistic trajectories at this two-day conference at Scotland’s Gaelic college in the beautiful Isle of Skye.

Here is a bilingual introduction by Professor Conchúr Ó Giollagáin and Dr Timothy Currie Armstrong, and an invitation to attend.

For further information, please see the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig website: http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/en/rannsachadh/co-labhairt-shoillse/

Soillse is seeking a researcher in socio-linguistics

November 30, 2014

Two-Year Post as a Researcher in Sociolinguistics

Soillse is a multi-institutional and interdisciplinary research collaboration between Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Lews Castle College, constituent colleges of the University of the Highlands and Islands; Aberdeen University; Edinburgh University and Glasgow University. Soillse was established in 2009 to provide research opportunities and post-graduate training in various academic disciplines relevant to the maintenance and revitalisation of Gaelic language and culture. By enhancing the research capacity in relation to the sociology, sociolinguistics, and language policy and planning aspects of Gaelic as a living language and culture, the participating universities seek to develop the Soillse collaboration as a world-class minority language research initiative, and to participate in scholarly and public debate concerning minority language issues in general, with a view to informing public policy in Scotland and beyond.

Soillse, in collaboration with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, invites applications for two-year research position from suitably qualified researchers with proven capacities for academic achievement in scholarly disciplines relevant to the Soillse research mission. Applicants will be required to submit a CV and a letter of application in which they indicate how their experience to date relates to the research aims of Soillse and how their research skills will enhance the research mission of Soillse. Applicants will be asked during the interview process to demonstrate sufficient ability in Gàidhlig in order to operate functionally as a Soillse researcher. More detail on the interview process and language requirements is available from the Director of Soillse.

Applicants should indicate how their skills meet the following criteria:

  • Relevance of their application to the Soillse research themes
  • Relevance of their minority language research experience to the aims of Soillse
  • A capacity to initiate, plan and conduct sociolinguistic research projects
  • A capacity to engage in field work to achieve research deadlines
  • An ability to report and present research findings.

The research position is available at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, an academic partner in the University of the Highlands and Islands. It is expected that successful candidate will reside during the period of their employment in reasonable proximity to their place of work.

Employment Responsibilities

The primary focus of the research position is to participate in the Soillse project as a research assistant to the Director of Soillse. The successful candidate will be expected also to develop a personal sociolinguistic research profile, relevant to the revitalisation of minority languages, as well as participating in key Soillse research projects.

In addition, the researcher will be expected to be committed to the collective responsibilities of the Soillse network which aim to:

  • Engage in individual and collaborative research through establishing a portfolio of work and disseminating results through regular publications in high impact journals, books, and conference proceedings
  • Support the preparations of applications to appropriate external bodies for research funding and be capable of the joint-management with the Soillse Director of such grant awards to a high standard of excellence.

The Fellowship Position

Job title: Soillse Researcher in Sociolinguistics

Duration: The Soillse research position will be awarded for a period of 2 years

Line Management: Soillse Research Director

Purpose of the Fellowship: The primary activities expected of the Researcher include the following:

  • Conducting research on an ongoing basis in a subject area, or areas, of relevance to Soillse and participating in team work to produce research publications of an international standard
  • Participating in research projects led by the Director of Soillse
  • Assisting the Director of Soillse in the preparation of academic research outputs for publication in books, journals, official reports and on-line/electronic realms
  • Participating in meetings and other gatherings as required by the Soillse Research Director
  • Supporting the work of Soillse in diverse ways, including contributing to: the collection and maintenance of various forms of databases; the publication and dissemination of Soillse research in a variety of formats; and, the preparation of conferences, workshops, lectures and other forms of knowledge exchange
  • Attendance at, and participation in, conferences, workshops, lectures and other knowledge exchange activities
  • Contributing to the preparation of funding bids in collaboration with the Soillse Director
  • Contributing to the Soillse website, assisting the Soillse management in the dissemination of information about the project and outputs of the project more generally, both nationally and internationally.

Key Competencies


  • Ability to understand, read, write and to converse in Gaelic. Applicants will be required to demonstrate their level of language competency during the interview process
  • At least two-year’s experience of conducting research in sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, linguistic anthropology, or another field of enquiry relevant to the Soillse research aims and objectives
  • Ability to undertake field work activities in support of minority language research, experience of participating in two or more field work projects relevant to the Soillse research agenda
  • Evidence of the ability to conduct innovative and high-quality research in an area, or areas, of relevance to the Soillse project and to publish such research
  • Excellent communication skills, including the ability to present research
  • Ability to work both independently but also under the guidance of academic colleagues and as part of a team of researchers
  • Ability and willingness to conduct public engagement activities to communicate to different audiences the implications of results arising from contemporary Gaelic research
  • Ability and willingness to initiate projects and to work closely with management structures
  • Excellent research planning and administrative skills
  • Functional competence in English relevant to the academic register.


  • Knowledge of the situation of the Gaelic language in Scotland and of policy relevant to its maintenance and revitalisation
  • A good understanding of matters relevant to minority language maintenance and revitalisation, more generally
  • Proven ability to present research outputs in Gaelic, both orally and in writing, including the ability to make presentations at, and participate in, conferences, workshops and seminars
  • An ability to publish through the medium of Gaelic
  • PhD completed or a PhD nearing completion, in relevant aspect of the language sciences.

Employing Institution

The individual offered the research position will be hosted by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, as one of the institutions participating in Soillse. The appointed Researcher would be subject to the prevailing employment conditions of the host institution.

The successful candidate will be expected to engage in Soillse activities in Inverness also, where the lead institution of the Soillse network, the University of the Highlands and Islands, is headquartered.

The appointment will be made on a salary scale commensurate with knowledge and experience, within the range of £29,574 – £32,250, according to the SMO pay scale.


This post is funded for a 2-year period.

Application Procedure

Applicants are required to complete an application form and to submit it along with the following:

  • A detailed CV, including the candidate’s publications record, and the names of two referees
  • A letter of application setting out:
    a) why this position is being applied for and explaining how the research position will enhance your academic research career-pathway
    b) how the applicant’s experience to date relates to the research aims of Soillse and how their research skills will enhance the research mission of Soillse.

For further specific information regarding the post, prospective candidates may contact Prof. Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, the Director of Soillse, if they wish to have an informal discussion regarding the position prior to the formal interview: Tel: 01471 888558; E-mail: sm00cog@uhi.ac.uk

Deadline for applications: 5 January 2015

Expected date for the interviews: End of January 2015

World-leading resource launched for assessing and increasing Gaelic proficiency

November 12, 2014

A project to develop an international world-leading framework for the teaching and learning of Scottish Gaelic is being launched at the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen. The project is part of the Soillse research network, the National Research Network for the maintenance and revitalisation of Gaelic language and culture.

The project, Comasan Labhairt ann an Gàidhlig (CLAG) / Gaelic Adult Proficiency (GAP), will ensure that Gaelic adult learners are provided with a crucial resource on par with those for other European languages, including English, Dutch, and Irish.
CLAG is linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), and will describe proficiency scales in Gaelic from beginner to advanced level. It willalso be used by language teachers and learners alike to gauge language learning and ability in spoken Gaelic.

The framework will help to maximise the number of Gaelic learners reaching fluency by providing clear learning targets, and helping them identify areas in which their spoken Gaelic skills can be improvedIt will also be aligned with existing Scottish Qualifications Authority qualifications, and will draw on a wealth of research previously conducted for Gaelic and other European languages.

Led by Professor Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh and Nicola Carty, both from the University of Glasgow, and members of Soillse at the University of Aberdeen, Dr. Michelle Macleod and Dr. Marsaili MacLeod, the project will run for three years, supported by the Scottish Funding Council and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Rob Ó Maolalaigh, Professor of Gaelic at the University of Glasgow said: ‘CLAG will be the first empirically derived framework to provide an objective means of describing Gaelic spoken language skills and will provide a much-needed scientific framework upon which new effective pedagogical resources can be created.’

Michelle Macleod, Senior Lecturer in Gaelic and Soillse Co-Director at The University of Aberdeen said: ‘We are delighted to be working with colleagues in the University of Glasgow on this exciting research project and are grateful to the Scottish Funding Council and Bòrd na Gàidhlig for their support. This new project builds on the existing knowledge-base of the Gaelic adult learner sector in the Soillse network and will have significant impact for adult learners and teachers of Gaelic.’

Bòrd na Gàidhlig said: ‘Information is currently being sought from learners on their needs to support them on their journey to Gaelic fluency, which will inform this project and future projects. Discussions with learners and tutors have indicated the need for developing such a resource which will help with forward planning of classes and allow learners to engage in self-assessment of language skills. The resource will sit within a suite of resources envisaged in the strategy currently being developed by the Bòrd and other national partners.’

Media enquiries: nick.wade@glasgow.ac.uk / (+44) 0141 330 7126

Landmark archive of 10 million Gaelic words launched

November 11, 2014



Researchers have completed the first phase of the world’s most extensive digital archive of Scottish Gaelic texts as part of a landmark project to revolutionise access and understanding of the language to public around the world.

The Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic (DASG) project is already the most comprehensive publicly accessible reference point for the Gaelic language and culture, having been worked on by researchers from Celtic and Gaelic at the University of Glasgow for the past eight years.

The DASG project has two main outputs:

• Corpas na Gàidhlig is a searchable online database bringing together full texts dating from the Twelfth Century to the present day.Together they make up a corpus of almost 10 million Gaelic words, which is expected to grow to up to 30 million words over the course of the project.

• The Fieldwork Archive contains over 22,000 headwords taken from speech recorded in Gaelic-speaking Scotland and Nova-Scotia during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It uniquely describes traditional Gaelic life and society and many of the headwords are accompanied by magnificent hand-drawn illustrations.

Together, these two resources will provide fingertip access to the riches of Gaelic language and culture and make it much more accessible to a world-wide audience.

Corpas na Gàidhlig will also provide the textual basis for alinked project involving five universities around Scotland. Faclair na Gàidhlig will produce a historical dictionary of Gaelic, a resource for Gaelic comparable to the Oxford English Dictionary and the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, both of which provide a historical lexical reference for their respective languages. Partners in the Faclair na Gàidhlig project are the universities of Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI.

Rob Ó Maolalaigh, Professor of Gaelic at the University of Glasgow and Director of DASG, said: “The Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic provides a unique and powerful web resource for students and researchers of Gaelic around the globe, which will transform the way research is carried out on Gaelic language, literature and culture. Having access to a large database like this will enable us to see new patterns in the way the language has been used over the centuries and how it continues to be used to this day. This resource will lead to the development of new pedagogical and technological resources for the language.”

Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Arts, Professor Murray Pittock, said: “As a leading centre for Gaelic and Celtic Studies, the University welcomes the online publication of ground-breaking DASG resources, which will provide scholars and Gaelic communities in Scotland and abroad with a magnificent learning and research resourceto promote Gaelic and its significance internationally.”

Professor Boyd Robertson, Chair of the Steering Committee of Faclair na Gàidhlig, and Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, said: “We are delighted that the first phase of DASG is now online based on established expertise at Glasgow. Corpas na Gàidhlig and related software development will revolutionise lexicographical methodology in Scotland. The Fieldwork Archive will also be tremendously important to the dictionary in that it contains words not recorded elsewhere. We can look forward confidently to a future in which Gaelic will have a dictionary compiled on historical principles linked to a digital corpus of the language. Together, they will enable full understanding of the Gaelic language and culture for generations to come.”

Leading scholar in the history and culture of the Highlands, Professor Hugh Cheape from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, said: “As a student of Scottish Gaelic with a specific interest in the lexis and in material culture, DASG offers a resource on a scale hitherto unimaginable without a lifetime’s reading and cross-referencing.”

DASG was established in 2006 and is funded by the British Academy, the University of Glasgow, Faclair na Gàidhlig, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Scottish Funding Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

DASG is available at http://www.dasg.ac.uk.


Media enquiries: nick.wade@glasgow.ac.uk / (+44) 0141 330 7126

Soillse invites applications for two post-doctoral Fellowships

June 3, 2014


Soillse – Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, University of the Highlands and Islands

2 Two-Year Post-doctoral Research Fellowships

Soillse, in collaboration with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, invites applications for two post-doctoral fellowships from suitably qualified researchers with proven capacities for academic achievement in scholarly disciplines relevant to the Soillse research mission. Soillse was established as a collaborative initiative to provide research opportunities in various academic disciplines relevant to the maintenance and revitalisation of Gaelic language and culture.

The two fellowships are available at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the University of the Highlands and Islands. Candidates will be required to be fluent in Gaelic and to hold a PhD and have experience of participating in sociolinguistic research projects. Successful candidates will be remunerated according to the relevant SMO pay scale.

Deadline for applications: 14 July 2014.

Expected date for interviews: Late July 2014.

More details from the Director of Soillse: An t-Ollamh Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, University of the Highlands and Islands, Tel: 01471 888558, E-mail: sm00cog@uhi.ac.uk

Soillse has published research on ‘New Speakers’ of Gaelic in Edinburgh and Glasgow

May 23, 2014

Soillse has published research on ‘New Speakers’ of Gaelic in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

A copy of the research report is available for download here.

University of the Highlands and Islands appoints Gaelic Research Professor

March 28, 2014

Dr Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, an expert on minority languages, has been appointed as Gaelic Research Professor at the University of the Highlands and Islands and director of Soillse, the National Research Network for the Maintenance and Revitalisation of Gaelic Language and Culture. Dr Ó Giollagáin has an international reputation in language planning and minority language culture and sociology. He has written extensively on issues concerning the sustainability of minority cultures, especially the Gaeltacht communities in Ireland.

More information here

Research on Migration to Gaelic-Speaking Areas now published

March 3, 2014

Research supported by the Soillse Small Research Fund and led by Dr Cassie Smith-Christmas of Lews Castle College UHI is now published. Copy of the report is available here

The Soillse Small Research Fund is now closed for 2014

February 1, 2014

The Soillse Small Research Fund is now closed for 2014.


Soillse has published a third Research Digest in the series for 2013.

May 13, 2013

The Research Digest summarises results on public attitudes to Gaelic from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, 2012, based on a sample of 1,229 people.

A copy of the Research Digest is available online here.

The second Soillse Research Digest has now been published

January 15, 2013

The second Soillse Research Digest has now been published and available online here.

Research reports from the Soillse Small Research Fund are now published.

August 16, 2012

Two of the research reports supported through the Soillse Small Research Fund have now been published.
(1) Dr Mark McConville and colleagues at the University of Glasgow investigated the potential of social media for minority language development. The full report is available here.
(2) Dr Fiona O’ Hanlon and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh investigated language models in Gaelic-medium pre-school, primary and secondary education. The full report is available here.