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Over 1.8 million people start learning Scottish Gaelic with Duolingo

© Ross Sneddon

Duolingo, a popular learning platform – today announced 1.8 million people had started learning Scottish Gaelic since it launched on St Andrews Day 2019.

The free course – which features bite-sized, gamified lessons – grew by 17% in 2023, up from 12% in 2022 to almost hit the 2 million mark.

There are currently 520,000 people actively learning the language on Duolingo.

Rebeca Ricoy, Duolingo’s lead in Europe said; “Duolingo’s course is the perfect introduction to anyone wanting to start learning Scottish Gaelic. It’s completely free, so there’s nothing stopping you.”

“We encourage anyone who wants to take their learning further to look at the many advanced courses available including Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s An Cùrsa Inntrigidh course, or their immersion option, An Cùrsa Comais.”

Ricoy also challenged Scots to hit the 2 million mark by World Gaelic Week in February.

Ricoy commented; “Do I think Scots can rise to the challenge and get to 2 million by February? Well Hogmanay is the perfect time to start any new year’s resolution!”

Announced in Glasgow at The Royal National MÒD in 2019, the course launched to the public on St Andrews Day in the same year. In one week the course had more people learning than there are native speakers alive today, and reached over a million in just a few months.

Learners come from all over the U.K. and internationally, with the course proving popular in Canada – including Nova Scotia where there is a Gaelic speaking community – the US, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Originally created by volunteers – including a school teacher, architect and student – the course was taken on in March 2022 by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture who have added to the course over the last year.

The Pittsburgh based company also reaffirmed its commitment to help promote Scottish Gaelic by finding fun and interesting ways to promote the language. Last year Duolingo helped a group of Scotland supporters sing the Ukrainian national anthem ahead of the World Cup qualifier at Hampden in a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

The new figures were released as part of Duolingo’s global language report which features an analysis of language trends from across the world drawn from its 83 million learners worldwide.

Other headlines from the report included Korean has overtaken Italian in popularity, Germany pushed the U.K. into third place in most multilingual nations, and Welsh hit 3 million learners.