Indigenous, Minority and Lesser-Used Languages


The rich linguistic heritage of the Council's Member Administrations is an important part of the culture of these islands. In recognition of the desire to support indigenous, minority and lesser-used (IML) languages, the topic was added to the BIC portfolio of work sectors at the third summit in June 2002.

The IML languages work sector concentrates on Irish, Welsh, Gaelic, Scots, Ulster Scots, Manx, Jèrriais, Guernesiais and Cornish.

Lead Administration

The Indigenous, Minority and Lesser-Used Languages (IML) Work Sector is led by the Welsh Government.

Current Focus

The Indigenous, Minority and Lesser Used Languages (IML) work sector held their Ministerial meeting in November 2019 on the Isle of Man where Ministers reviewed the group’s work and agreed their next forward work plan with a focus on supporting:- 

  • Social use of Language (Broadcasting / Social Media)
  • Early Years
  • Infrastructure / Technology / Economic Impact.

As a result of the Covid19 pandemic, from March 2020 the work sector quickly switched to meeting virtually, and the group has held a number of meetings in this format. The group continue to invite speakers to present virtually to maintain momentum and share best practice.

The IML and Early Years Policy work sector joined together for a webinar in June 2021 to discuss; the cognitive benefits of learning languages in the early years; developing the Early Years workforce who work with IML languages; and sharing best practice in supporting parents / guardians of children enrolled in IML / Early Years settings.

As a result of the Covid19 lockdown period, the group created a new IML language resources page on the BIC website to promote opportunities to learn the IML languages now that many people are looking to make good use of their increased time at home.

To mark the arrival of Spring, the work sector prepared a phrase sheet with helpful phrases in the nine IML languages.

To mark the European Day of Languages in 2020 the group updated their Spotify playlist of songs and also produced social media friendly facts and phrases of each of the languages.

  •         The Spotify playlist can be accessed here.
  •         The IML factsheet can be accessed here.
  •         The IML and Early Years Key Words and Phrases can be accessed here.

For the European Day of Languages in 2021 the group produced a phrase sheet with an environmental theme, to tie in with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place in Glasgow.

For International Mother Language Day in 2023, the group put together a set of words to celebrate culture and music in the nine BIC IML languages. 

For the European Day of Languages in 2023, the group produced sheet of Greetings in the nine Indigenous, Minority and Lesser-used Languages.

To mark International Mother Language Day in 2023, the group produced a set of useful words to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in the nine Indigenous, Minority and Lesser-used Languages.

Further Information

Please see below some of the initiatives that the group have visited as part of their work programme across the eight Member Administrations of the British Irish Council. 

The IML work sector members made a visit to Ysgol Gymraeg Glan Ceubal, a Welsh language immersion school in October 2019.

Ministers from the BIC Administrations visit Culture Vannin ( in the Isle of Man following the Ministerial meeting in November 2019.