A first blog from the child taught no English in school

I have an extra special guest on the blog this week — my son Michael, aged seven-and-a-half. He has been asking me for ages if he could write a blog post himself, “to show my class”, so I thought, why not? It’s got to fit in with Curriculum for Excellence, right? And it’s a bit of fun.

He’s been working on this for a few days but what is particularly interesting about this is Michael’s language context. He is in GM3 (primary three in Gaelic Medium Education) at Stornoway Primary and he has not been taught any English in school.

Gaelic medium is pure language immersion and Michael has not yet had any formal instruction in how to read or write in English. But, as you will see here, he can do it.

Although I took the plunge and went for Gaelic Medium Education — I’ve written about that before in ‘Why I chose Gaelic Medium Education for my children’ — it wasn’t a decision made without reservation. I knew that English language skills weren’t introduced until halfway through primary school and one of my main worries was that they might miss out on that early enthusiasm which leads to children becoming lifelong book lovers.

I rationalised it partly by thinking that in some countries in Europe — Finland, for example — children don’t start formal schooling till seven, so that would put them on an age parallel with Gaelic Medium children when they start to learn English.

But I did want to know about when and how it would happen — and I struggled to get my head around the advice that “it just happens”.

I was advised to try him out with some easy English books at home and build on that. I was stunned to see that, amazingly, it does just happen!

This is one of the most mind-blowing things about GME. All of a sudden, the language skills transfer across. You can hear it happening as they read aloud, sounding the words out.

Michael’s ability to read came all of a sudden during the first term of primary three. He started with pre-school books and now he’s reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid at night himself. Lately, it has become clear that he can write in English too.

So here’s his wee story about himself. I have only helped him a little, with some full stops and how to spell a handful of words. I put in the picture captions (mainly because he’s away to school now) but otherwise, I have left it as he wrote it in order to show exactly what Gaelic medium kids are capable of in English by primary three.

I find it quite fascinating. And his father thought it was a vast improvement on my usual blog chat. “It’s very good. It’s better than your fleeking jibber jabber blethers…”

Over to Michael…

Michael with a school cup
Me with Sgoilear na Seachdain — the class cup for ‘pupil of the week’

Hi every body. I’m 7 and a half now. i like lego so much. my birthday is on the 9th of June.

Im an uncle to my nephew leo ho is a baby rite now but it’s nearly his first birthday ever.

I go to judo, swiming lessons three and beavers in stornoway but last summer i went to inverness in a caravan with my brother and my mom and my granny we had a great time.

I go to stornoway primary school in GM3 gaelic. I’ve been learning gaelic but it feels very whirred  because I’m writing in english, learned english from gaelic.

My brother is very bad to me and my dogs. he’s a bit good to me.

I love music. my favourite bands are ed sheeran, killers and runrig.

best holidays ever

My best holiday was when i went to ullapool because brother when he was on the ferry he was like I’m gonna watch telly I’m gonna watch telly. it was very funny.

My second best holiday was when i to glassgow for the lego exhibition with my granny and my uncle.

best day of my life

It was when i turned seven years old because i had the best party ever. it was really funny because when i was blowing the candle’s my friend said stop blowing fire at me. i had fun.

My mom and dad are great.

I have three brothers and one sister and my mom and dad.

I love love star wars and ninjago.

There is twenty-two people in my class.

I have two teachers one is called mrs macleod and the other one is mrs Macleod. in p2 i had mrs ingramm. in p1 i had the mrs macleods as well.

Here are the names of my friends.

Nathan, liam, craig, arran and lewis.

My life is very very good.

Me as a baby
Boy holding baby
Me and baby Leo
Boys and their granny on a staircase
Me and my brother and granny in Inverness
Michael shaking hands with his Beaver leader
Me being welcomed to Beavers by Squirrel
Boys in Star Wars costumes
Me and my brother at Halloween
Michael with lego ninjago
Me with some Lego Ninjago
Michael with ear defenders on at music festival
Me two years ago at HebCelt for the first time
Two dogs in the snow
My dogs (Cuillin and Cody) in the Castle Grounds
Stornoway harbour from the castle grounds
Stornoway — the town where I live

Comments 7

  1. Fantastic. Thank you for sharing your story. I admire you very much as I was taught English but would love to have Gaelic. I hope your story is an inspiration to others and our beautiful language can once more become our mainstream first language. Xxx

  2. Michael, thank you for telling the world a little about you and your life. You are a brave one who is willing to tell his story. I live in Canada, but have been to Enland, Ireland and Scotland. Sorry I missed seeing you! I am 63 year old.

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