Whilst home in the Isle of Man at the end of August I visited my great uncle. He's approaching 100 and is one of the few local people still left in the village of Cregneash, much of which is now operating as a living museum. He's also a bit of a film star, having had a few small roles in locally produced movies - Waking Ned perhaps being the most famous. Being so well known he gets a lot of visitors, and this time was no exception. When I popped by, he had a student visiting asking questions about Cregneash for a university project, and also a teacher from the only Manx language primary school on the Island.
The school, Bunscoill Gaelgagh in St John's, uses the medium of Manx for teaching primary school children. The majority of classes are tought in Manx, with only about 10% being taught in English. They also get to learn French as a third language.
Having learnt a little Manx when I was younger, and being keen to refresh my memory of it when starting university back in 2000, I wanted to find out how the first generation of native Manx speakers in a long time are getting to grips with the language. (I still haven't gone back and refreshed my knowledge of it, though I'd still love to, if I can find a good Manx distance learning course to take).
I had my doubts about how successful the Manx-medium school would be when I first heard about it. It turns out, however, that the children are doing very well, being fluent Manx speakers, fluent English speakers and are picking up French very easily as well.
It'll be interesting to see what happens in years to come, how many people will be speaking Manx again, how often it will be used, and what it will be used for. As you can imagine, re-introducing a language almost from scratch will be a difficult, and probably quite long process. Being a descendant of one of the last native Manx speakers, I look forward to the day when I will hear people speaking Manx to one another in everyday life. Hopefully by then I will have actually learnt some, and will be able to join in.