What level of CEFR can you learn in Scottish Gaelic in Duolingo?
Even if Scottish Gaelic is not on the CEFR register, what level of language can we acquire if we consider it (and assuming that we do a daily study)?
Yes, they never do any intermediate level. There is apparently more company interest in raking up XPs than in learning. Hence those big Kauri trees still only contain repeatedly the same one sentence translation. Since I started they expanded the Spanish tree twice. The second time the new unit were pure punishment.
But! This course is very different. Unlike many others it comes with truly excellent and entertaining explanations. May it thrive and grow.
To be fair, how far can anyone seriously go in a language without interaction with a warm and breathing human being? I see it more as a way to get to grips with the basic grammar structures and build up a bit of a vocabulary as a stepping stone to a more advanced course where I can learn to speak the language for myself and interact with a live teacher.
Seems to me, given the level of interest in this course, that if even a fraction of the people who have registered are seriously interested, the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig people are going to be overwhelmed in a year or two. Are there even enough higher-level Gaelic teachers to cope with the possible demand?
Another point is actually speaking the lingo. You can complete the Duolingo course and be an absolute whizz on all the material without a word of Gaelic actually passing your lips. Obviously we hear the recorded voices, but saying the words for oneself is another matter.
I sing, and my mother was a professional singer, and she talked about having a song "in your voice". What she meant was practising until it was in your muscle memory. I remember when I hadn't sung for a while and I had to do an audition and pulled out something I knew and it wasn't too bad and she said, "the song is in your voice". Muscle memory. My voice already knew how. We need to have spoken words in our muscle memory just the same way, and I don't think that's ever going to work without a live teacher correcting our pronunciation in live time.
I also play instruments (flutes mainly) and I see a parallel with learning a new instrument. At first you just study the fingering and learn the mechanics of the instrument. Then you start to play notes, but for every note you mentally have to work out what the fingering is and do it. If it's a complicated passage there might be quite a lot of figuring out, and even consulting fingering charts. But then the more you practise, the more you get to the point where your eyes see a note on the page and your fingers automatically finger that note on the instrument without you actually having to think consciously about it at all. But it takes repetitive work to get there, and I think languages are the same.
Careful practice. As a tutor said to us, what does practice make? Everyone hesitated, because we all knew "practice makes perfect" and there seemed to be a catch to it. There was. "Practice makes permanent," he said. If you practise it wrong, you're cementing the wrong thing.
So I see this as the preliminaries. Learning the mechanics of the instrument and which fingering makes which notes, and even learning to read music. Then there comes a time when everyone needs a teacher who can listen to them and give feedback and progress them further.
It's a win-win situation for sure. I think there may be capacity problems in the near future though. And even the medium term - to be a teacher one has to be really fluent and that takes a lot of doing. Are there that many kids coming out of Gaelic-medium schools, or are that many people likely to achieve true fluency quickly? I wonder.