I have decided to speak Gaelic all the time to my children. What should I do when we are around people who don't speak it?

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The English-speaking world seems to have this idea that we switch to Gaelic purely to talk about them without them knowing what we're saying; but quite the opposite is true. A lot of us feel uncomfortable speaking Gaelic around people who do not understand the language, and will therefore switch to English. But why is that?

The English-speaking world seems to have this idea that we switch to Gaelic purely to talk about them without them knowing what we're saying; but quite the opposite is true. A lot of us feel uncomfortable speaking Gaelic around people who do not understand the language, and will therefore switch to English. But why is that?

As speakers of a language that has historically been minoritised and marginalised, we are often lead to believe that our language and culture is lesser than that of the majority language, and that speaking our own language is exclusionary or 'rude'. This is a viewpoint which is unfortunately perpetuated in our own community - but it is not true. Speaking to your children in their home-language when you are out and about is not 'rude', it is a fundamental part of helping your child feel at ease using the language in all kinds of settings and ensuring a strong bond based in Gaelic.


The fact that you are conversing with a someone in English should not deter you from continuing to use Gaelic with your children. You should explain to the person how important this is for your child to be exposed as much as possible to their home-language and there should be no reason for them to feel offended. You should not prevent them addressing your children in English or any other language.