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Experiences with An Cùrsa Inntrigidh

Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:30 pm
by vb99
I finished Cùrsa Inntrigidh in 2017, then spent a year taking a first year Gaelic course with another school (while reviewing all my Inntrigidh notes and files), and was recently accepted into An Cùrsa Adhartais to start this autumn. Prior to starting Cùrsa Inntrigidh in 2016, I had spent several years trying to “learn on my own” with books and materials available online. If you are serious about learning Gaelic, Cùrsa Inntrigidh is a good place to start. I think it was the best place for me to start. Here is my experience and some references I used while in ACI.

Cùrsa Inntrigidh is a 3 term course. I found it challenging and difficult – of course that depends on how much Gaelic you know going in and how much time you are able to spend on the course. I suppose like anything else, you will get out of it what you put in. If I had had any idea going in how difficult I was going to find it I probably would have thought it was all too much and I wasn’t smart enough – so I’m am very glad I didn’t know up front. I was also extremely pleased to get the certificate after successfully finishing entire course – I think more so than anything I have done in the last few decades.

Living in the middle of the US, I was unable to attend the supplemental weekends for face to face learning (travel costs are way too high for such a short time in Scotland) but classmates have said the weekends were very helpful. If you are outside the UK -- International students (like the US) pay quite a bit more for each term (foreign exchange fees, and unfavorable exchange rates on top of ~ double for the class in £), may pay more for the call, may have to call in at odd hours, have no tuition assistance or employer paid options, and don’t have the luxury of local Gaelic resources for help outside of class that UK students have. These are not a reason to avoid the class if you are not in the UK, but just something to be aware of so you aren’t surprised. Also, some US locations do have local Scottish Gaelic groups (there just aren’t any where I live).

Course materials are delivered online by passwords provided for each unit (Aonad) as you get to that point in the course. The materials are very well-organized. The online website (learning environment) works very well and staff will respond to emails if you have a problem. Each unit consists of the workbook with weekly assignments (conversation plus reading and workbook exercises), weekly Clas-fòn questions lists (covered in each week’s 1-hour tutorial), recordings (of the conversations plus listening exercises), and supplemental and “extra” files for grammar, additional practice work, vocabulary, and the unit index. End of term assessments include both written and oral tests.

All three terms can be very time-consuming on a weekly basis, depending on whether you are relatively familiar with the topics covered (or not), and how quickly you can finish the reading, listening, and Clas-fòn assignments. I found Earrann 1 relatively easy but still time consuming to get through all the work, Earrann 2 the most difficult and time consuming, and Earrann 3 a welcome relief (seemed slightly easier) from Earrann 2, but still difficult because it was all new material. Most weeks, I actually did all the assignments (including the recorded/listening exercises) in the recommended order.

To get the most from the class you likely need to set aside time every week to work on the assignments and prepare for the Clas-fòn. Don’t get behind. “Future” units assume you have learned grammar and vocabulary from prior units. I would recommend at least reading (and tr*nsl*t*ng if needed) all materials (including the extra “stuth” files) to be sure you are familiar with all the material. Translations are not provided for the materials written in Gaelic – you need to read the workbook Mìneachadh (in English), use the Faclair, and also use an extra dictionary. Although I suspect part of the SMO method is to get students to a point of just reading in Gaelic and then doing the work. The indices are good for reviewing the topics covered in each unit. At the end of each unit you are emailed a review page with a list of topics for which you should know how to ask and answer questions. I maintained electronic copies of all the files provided as well as printing hard-copies of everything (organized in notebooks) which made it much easier to do all the weekly work and refer back to prior materials when needed.

The teachers (tutors) are very helpful with answering questions in emails between tutorials. It’s also helpful to work with other students in the class through email exchange or skype (if time zones and availability can be worked out).

I think it was helpful to prepare for the Clas-fòn 1-hour tutorials. I wrote out answers to all the Clas-fòn questions the tutor had assigned and as many others as I had time for. This helped me quickly realize during the Clas-fòn tutorial whether I didn’t understand something. Some students don’t prepare (because they want “extemporaneous” practice), but that can make the weekly tutorial (the only hour we get) annoying for others because the assignment doesn’t get completed on the call and the teacher spends most of the time with the unprepared person. By all means call in and listen (if some weeks you can’t prepare) but please let the people who prepared use the hour to practice and ask questions.

I would also recommend having other resources at hand during the week when you are learning the unit. It really helps to be able to look up additional information on confusing grammar topics. For example, I used the list below (not in any particular order). I purchased most when I was in my “learn on my own” phase and would see them recommended when researching topics online. I’d recommend actual hard-copies, if you can get them, rather than the online scanned copies that sometimes show up.

My lowest point in An Cùrsa Inntrigidh, was the day the Earrann 2 written test arrived and I read it through. I burst into tears and walked around crying and thinking that was it, I wasn’t smart enough, and it was time to quit. It took two days to talk myself into just having another look and sending in what I could because I at least had to try. No kidding. I think An Cùrsa Inntrigidh is not for the faint of heart. But it is very possible to be successful if you stick with it.

Best wishes.
I’ll put the books I used in a second post.


Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:35 pm
by vb99
Here is the book list I mentioned above.
Books I used while taking ACI -

Gaelic by Roderick MacKinnon – 35 chapters titled with the Grammar topic covered. Each chapter has a list of key points for that topic and practice exercises. From the 1970s so it uses old spelling methods. Extremely helpful in clearly stating key points for each topic with examples. Basic and does not cover advanced grammar (but useful for ACI). Out of Print. Used copies for sale online. The “Teach Yourself” book before the current version (Complete Gaelic by Robertson, very different in organization and approach to grammar).

Bun Chursa Gaidhlig by Bill Blacklaw – 48 chapters titled with Grammar topic covered. From the 1980s so it uses old spelling methods. More difficult to understand because I think it was intended to supplement a college course. Used copies for sale online.

Cothrom Ionnsachaidh by Ronald Black – 18 units of a progressive course in Scottish Gaelic – chapters not titled by grammar topic – but it has an excellent index so I am frequently able to find extra information on specific topics. I bought mine (9th edition) at for £12. It’s “out of stock” today so I don’t know if it is now out of print. Used copies available online.

Essential Gaelic Dictionary by Boyd Robertson and Iain MacDonald (Teach Yourself Series) – In print. I used this all the time. My first copy fell apart and I am on my second. Well worth it because it is easy to use and seems to cover all the basic vocabulary needed.

Scottish Gaelic in 12 Weeks by Roibeard O Maolalaigh – In print and available in many bookstores. This is an extremely useful book because you can look up grammar topics in the index and find good concise coverage with examples and exercises. My first copy has fallen apart (but has all my notes and cross-references in it – so I still have it) and I am on my second copy. Covers ACI-related topics and grammar topics beyond that.

Speaking Our Language books. At least some of the books are still available from as new books. Series 1 has 2 books (part 1 (corresponds to shows 1-9) and part 2 (corresponds to shows 10-18)), Series 2, 3, and 4 have one book each. Used copies do show up online. Since the course is progressive (and there is no index) these aren’t good for finding grammar topics, but the books provide many more examples than covered in the shows (see youtube) and when you can match an SOL topic to an ACI topic it can be really helpful. Cùrsa Inntrigidh seemed to cover the same topics as Series 1 (shows 1-18) and Series 2 (shows 19-36).

Gràmar na Gàidhlig by Michel Byrne (2002, 2004) – Out of print. An excellent basic grammar book. 6 chapters titled by topic (Nouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, Pronouns, Prepositions, Verbs). Written in English and provides examples in Gaelic, including complete Gaelic sentences. I’ve heard this is very hard to find now. No index, but the Table of Contents is detailed. I wish the author would publish a new version!

Gaelic Orthographic Conventions available online at - helpful when using older references to figure out how words are supposed to be spelled out now.

Complete Gaelic by Boyd Robertson and Iain Taylor – a friend recommends this one. Although I have a copy, I’m less familiar with it and so use it less.

Experiences with An Cùrsa Inntrigidh

Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:08 pm
by Steafan Uallas
vb99 - Fantastic run-down! I appreciate your thorough review and comments. Very helpful. Eases my worries a little with regard to An Cùrsa Inntrigidh. Not sure when I'll be about to begin with everything I have going on now, but I think enrollment is in my not-so-distant future. At this rate, probably Autumn 2019 start.

Experiences with An Cùrsa Inntrigidh

Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:02 pm
by faoileag
Mòran taing, vb99!
Tha sin uabhasach feumail do luchd-ionnsachaidh agus luchd-teagaisg. :D

Agus nach math a rinn thu fhèin! :moladh:

Experiences with An Cùrsa Inntrigidh

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:50 am
by Sealanach
My copy of Robertson's Teach Yourself Gaelic Dictionary is falling apart too! Wish they would publish it in an edition suitable for a learner's dictionary! Those verb tables at the back are gold.

Experiences with An Cùrsa Inntrigidh

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:59 am
by Sealanach
burst into tears and walked around crying and thinking that was it, I wasn’t smart enough, and it was time to quit. It took two days to talk myself into just having another look and sending in what I could because I at least had to try.
Remember that these tests aren't necessarily critiqued and adjusted in a thorough manner. Some of the questions in a test can only partially address course material or there can be logical stepping stones missed but not apparent to fluent speakers. In a classroom environment, the teacher has instant feedback on the course matter and sees the results from the tests, but for distance learning that is not always the case.