Deiseal Ltd: Research into and initial development of support systems and software applications

01/03/2011 - 31/05/2014

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This IIDI project, led by Alistair Lawson, involves research into and initial development of support systems and software applications for Deiseal Ltd in relation to Ùlpan (Gaelic Language Learning for Adults).  The project is funded by Deiseal Ltd who have in turn have received funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig (BnaG), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) .  IIDI are bringing to this project knowledge and skills relating to robust scalable systems, applications development, information sharing and security, learning environments, and speech and language technologies.  


This research and development is aimed at learners, tutors and course developers of Scottish Gaelic. The method of teaching Gaelic being used initially with the system is Ùlpan. This method has been used for over 50 years to great effect in Israel, where it originated for teaching Hebrew, and in Wales, where it has been used for over 30 years to bring thousands of learners to fluency in Welsh. In Scotland, around 2,000 students have registered with Ùlpan since its launch. The course is made up of 144 units, with most students at present doing one or two face to face sessions of around 1.5 hour each week in classes of around 8 to 16 students and one tutor. For minority languages such as Scottish Gaelic it is difficult for learners to get the practice with native speakers between face to face classes that is required to become fluent. In this project ICT is being developed to enhance face to face lessons by offering a supportive web-based environment practicing (text and audio) and for formative assessment (homework). The ICT environment collects data on student performance that can be fed back to the students for self- improvement, to tutors so they can monitor the progress of cohorts of students (and adapt lessons as necessary), and to course developers (and trainers of tutors) so they can alter the course if need be. The structuring of course content is XML based allowing course developers to more easily update or re-order content, or adaptation to different dialects or other languages. Tutors of minority languages are often native speakers with little formal training in language teaching. The ICT system is being designed to support such tutors, especially these in fragile communities where additional income from language tutoring can help supplement income from more traditional sources of employment such as crofting.
Deiseal Ltd: Research into and initial development of support systems and software applications is a Contract Research project funded by Deiseal Ltd. Carried out in collaboration with and others. For further information please refer to .
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Project Team

Peter Cruickshank
+44 131 455 2309
Piotr Mikuta
(not currently an institute member)
Alistair Lawson
Associate Professor (Reader)
+44 131 455 2730

Associated Publications

Lawson, A., Mikuta, P., Cruickshank, P. (2013, September). Using ICT to Supporting Course Developers, Tutors, and Students of Scottish Gaelic. Paper presented at EUROCALL, University of Évora.