Scottish Gaelic language course on Duolingo learning app reaches 1.12 million learners


The Scottish Gaelic course on the Duolingo language learning app has reached 1.12 million learners.

The marking cipher was issued to mark Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the National Center for Gaelic Language and Culture, supporting further course developments.

The announcement also comes just in time for World Gaelic Week (Seachdain na Gaidhlig) which runs until March 27.

The free course, which launched on St Andrew’s Day in 2019, was developed by a group of volunteers in Scotland, including teacher Ciaran MacAonghais and architect Martainn Mac a’ Bhaillidh.

Learning Gaelic on the app quickly grew in popularity and in just a few days, over 50,000 learners were on board, more than the number of native Scottish Gaelic speakers.

From this month, the same group of volunteers will develop the course within the Sabhal Mor Ostaig team.

The move is part of a larger initiative by Duolingo to move from a volunteer-based model to courses run in partnership with external bodies such as the Isle of Skye-based Gaelic Language School.

According to Duolingo figures, there are currently 431,000 active learners on the course.

Of these, 37% are in the US, 25% in the UK, and 6% in Canada, with the rest spread across the globe.

The main motivation for learning is ‘culture’, with 40% of learners choosing it, followed by ‘brain training’ at 18%, and ‘family’ and ‘school’ at 12%.

Scottish Gaelic learners also rank among the hardest working and most engaged learners in the world with the longest daily streaks and the highest number of lessons completed.

Sabhal Mor Ostaig Director Dr Gillian Munro said: “This exciting new partnership is a great opportunity to align Duolingo’s Scottish Gaelic content with our own Gaelic language courses at Sabhal Mor Ostaig.

“The success of Scottish Gaelic on Duolingo demonstrates the growing demand for learning Gaelic both in Scotland and overseas, and we would like to pay tribute to the dedicated volunteers for developing such a great course – ceud mile taing dhuibh. “

Colin Watkins, head of Duolingo UK, said the deal with Sabhal Mor Ostaig was “perfect”, adding: “We’re confident the price will go from strength to strength.

“We encourage everyone to start learning today.”

Learner Dr Mark Maudsley started using Duolingo to improve his language skills in 2019 while studying on Sabhal Mor Ostaig’s Distance Beginners Gaelic Course from his home in Shetland.

Describing the course, he said: “When I was living in Shetland and learning Gaelic remotely with Sabhal Mor Ostaig, Duolingo was a huge help.

“I was learning new words and grammar every day on Duolingo, and my Gaelic became much faster as a result.

“I am now taking the full-time Sabhal Mor Ostaig (An Cursa Comais) immersion course on campus, and I use my Gaelic every day.

“Duolingo really helped me prepare for this course.”

The app’s Scottish Gaelic course is available for free on iOS and Android, and on


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