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.

Ministers requested that a cultural event should take place during 2020 to celebrate the use of minority languages within the BIC administrations. This event well into its planning stage and was due to take place in the Autumn of 2020, however, due to the Covid19 pandemic the event planning has been put on hold, and will recommence when the safety parameters of holding such event are clearer.

The work sector were due to meet in Guernsey in March 2020, however due to inclement weather, the group held a productive teleconference meeting instead with all group members. 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, most recently in June 2020 and August 2020. The group will meet again in October 2020 and December 2020, where they will invite speakers to present virtually in order to maintain momentum and share best practice during the uncertain times ahead.

During 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 9 IML languages.

European Day of Languages – 26 September 2020

In 2019 the group created a Spotify playlist to celebrate the European Day of Languages. To mark the 2020 European Day of Languages the group have updated the Spotify playlist and 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 phrases can be accessed here.

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.  Links to relevant language engagement opportunities will also be found in this section as the group continue the collaboration between the BIC administrations.

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.