Learning Irish Gaelic

Learning Irish Gaelic

Have any of you English-speaking folks tried learning Irish Gaelic via an internet site or app? Was it successful? Suggestions, recommendations, any feedback?

Thanks

Learning Irish

Just ‘Irish’ (in English) or Gaeilge (in Irish), not to be confused with Scots Gaelic (although the word ‘Gaeilge’ sounds like Gaelic in the North).

You could try Duolingo for some basics or the lesson material from the Buntus Cainte course is available on MemRise.

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

I’d get started with Duolingo - it won’t turn you into a speaker by any means but it gives you some vocabulary, pronunciation, and starts you on grammar, and gets you in the habit of daily practice. If you use the desktop version you can access notes to explain stuff as well, which are missing on the mobile app.

I’m a Scots Gaelic learner, but the advice is pretty much the same. Be aware of a couple of things: the language is very remote from English. It’s not like learning French or German; it’s like learning Arabic. Your mouth has to learn to make sounds that don’t exist in English and to reconstruct everything you know about grammar on the fly. I’m not sure if the Irish version is free, but Glossika is really helpful for pronunciation and giving you a bit of blas. Ultimately though, my second point is that you will eventually need support from a teaching mechanism of some kind. I don’t know much about what’s out there but there will be plenty of it. A group class is a good way to go, especially if you get a keen group.

Good luck with it - it’s a great thing to have and you don’t have to achieve native speaker status to find it incredibly useful.

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Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

“All About Irish” offers online courses for Beginners to Advanced learners:

https://www.allaboutirish.ie

Doing something like that as well as Duolingo would get ye started.

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

Mary McLaughlin’s ‘Singing in Irish Gaelic’. Comes as a song book available to buy online, with online audio, basic score, Irish lyrics, English lyrics and (drum rolll) phoenetic English lyrics! She’s a legend🙂

Interestingly, she uses mostly Ulster-style Irish (rather than Connemara), so there are Scotts cross-overs there for our Caledonian mob.
Highly recommend
Ali x

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

Thanks for the hint about the desktop version, Calum. I’ve been doing Irish on Duolingo for about 6 months, and my biggest complaint is that they don’t tell you any of the rules and just expect for you to pick up on them (on the mobile app). I will have to try it on desktop!

As others have mentioned, I wouldn’t expect Duolingo to turn you into an Irish speaker, but it’s a good first step into understanding a lot more about how the language is put together, and how to spell and pronounce things that are largely non-intuitive to English speakers. (And you get to learn all sorts of useful phrases, like “the elephant is in the fridge”! 😉)

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

If you want tips in Duolingo and you don’t learn any of the main languages (think English, French, German and Spanish) always play on desktop. Complement it with the phone app (they sometimes have a little more excersizes per unit). Thats how I do it (although I am learning another language there).

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

Thanks for the comments thus far. I’ve tried Duolingo on my desktop computer and, as has been noted, it offers an introduction but not too much in the spoken aspect. Many of the more expansive (and expensive) programs, other than Rosetta Stone, don’t offer Irish. Moving to Dingle or Feakle is even more expensive 🙂, so I’m still looking.

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

Italian speaker here. I took some courses while in Ireland many years ago and have some basic grasp of the grammar. I’d say the most difficult thing is that all Irish courses are based on English; the language is actually much more similar to Latin, or even Italian, passing through English makes it more complicated than it is. Anyway, after some years I took up Duolingo, now I have a +400 days long stretch and I was surprised to find that my understanding of Irish has improved really a lot. Now I am able to understand some tweets in Irish, one year ago this was not the case. So duolingo really helped.

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

Another note about Duolingo, it really doesn’t work if you “play” it like it’s presented. You’re not going to properly learn the language from 10 minutes a day of a lesson or two each. If you sit and spend a lot of time on it, though, you can get somewhere. Do as much practicing as “learning,” don’t try to rush through the progression all at once, and make sure you’ve got everything down in one section before blasting through the next. I’ve also used Clozemaster for some other languages with very good results, so I would highly recommend using it.

At some point, start mixing in Irish-language media, things like TG4,RnaG, podcasts, easy-to-understand videos, etc. DON’T use English subtitle, never use English subtitles, since you’ll just read those. Irish subtitles or none. You won’t understand everything at first, but forcing your brain to actually come to grips with the language on its own terms is much better than always having to translate through to English first.

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

Science says three important things here:

1. Languages are acquired by getting comprehensible input. Period.

2. You do *not* need to practice speaking to get better at speaking. To get better at speaking, you have to listen.

3. The study of “grammar rules” does not speed up acquisition of a language.

I know, not what you experienced in school, but true. I can post links for those who wanna geek out.

Chris

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

I haven’t much experience learning a language from an app or web but from what I can gather you should be able to get the basics of the language.

Moving on from there a couple of key things. Irish/Gaelic is a living language so there will be lots of turns of phrase you will not find on any app.
In so far as possible it should be learnt through Irish not through the medium of English as it can’t be translated directly.
Irish/Gaelic - a bit like music - best learnt by ear

Once you’ve grasped the basics move on to TG4, RNaG, and other media. If you watch programmes that interest you you can start to build your knowledge of the language around this. E.g. if you like ITM (ceol Ghaelach) you could learn the words for different types of tunes (pólca, sleamhnán, ríl, port, cornphíopa etc) and a few instruments (feadóg stáin, fidil, bosca cheoil etc), then tune into a music show RnaG and listen to the presenter introducing the tunes and musicians.

MOLSCÉAL is a Facebook page that provides subtitles in Gaelic - I personally find it useful where I struggle to follow the speaker’s dialect

TEANGLANN seems to be the best dictionary app out there (but I don’t think it is audio)

Hope this helps

Go n-éirí leat

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

Apple user here. I just looked through all of my personal language learning apps, as well as apps that I’ve tried and am aware of, and I have some good news and bad news.

The bad news is, of all of the language apps I’m aware of(besides Duolingo), only two have Irish Gaelic. One is called “Clozemaster”, and it’s for intermediate to advanced learners. It has language level based fill-in-the-blank phrases and sentences. The other is called “Mango Languages”. It’s focuses on speaking and conversational language, but also teaches vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and culture. I have used Mango and I enjoyed it for the time I used it. It wasn’t “textbook” enough for me though. It teaches Basic Irish in 10 Chapters and 72 lessons(Not a lot, compared to the Japanese program which has 41 chapters and over 500 lessons). The Irish Language itself is notably free to study on this app.

The GOOD news, is that the language learning landscape has changed a lot in the last 15 years, and all languages are much more accessible to study, including Irish! With that being said, there are language learning focused social media apps called language exchanges. A language exchange is where you can talk to native speakers who either speak, or are learning your native language. It is an invaluable resource and the apps have a lot of features. The one I use is called Hellotalk and it has Irish! You can post on a public forum and ask questions about the language and culture. You can post vocabulary and grammar that you’re practicing, and native speakers will check and correct them. You can send voice recordings publicly to the open forum, or privately to your language partners, and get advice on your speech, accent, and pronunciation. There are all kinds of learning resources. And of course, you can do all of these same things for others learning your native language. I mean really, the online language exchange is revolutionary, and I wouldn’t be able to take my language learning seriously without it!

Also, this is just a hunch but; Since Irish and English speakers don’t have a thick language barrier because of sharing fluent English, the language exchange may be of even more use.

I hope this helps!

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

I’ve had an excellent experience with LetsLearnIrish.com. For those who are interested in self-guided study via apps, I’m surprised nobody has mentioned Mango Languages. I find it vastly preferable to Duolingo in general, and my public library offers it for free… I’m guessing a number of other libraries do, too.

(I haven’t paid much attention to which dialect Mango teaches, and I don’t know how many Irish units they have compared to other languages… but could be a way to get started, anyway.)

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

"1. Languages are acquired by getting comprehensible input. Period.

2. You do *not* need to practice speaking to get better at speaking. To get better at speaking, you have to listen.

3. The study of “grammar rules” does not speed up acquisition of a language."


1. Comprehensible input has a prerequisite: Comprehension. Naturally the more material you learn and understand, the more input becomes comprehensible.

2. Speaking and listening don’t utilize all of the same parts of the brian, as speaking is physical and therefore requires reflex to become 2nd nature. Listening is admittedly a very significant part of learning speech, but you certainly have to practice “using your mouth” to get better at using your mouth. We see this in natural language learning as children learn how to use all of their speech muscles over time.

3. This partially contradicts #1. Studying grammar rules may not speed up acquisition, but understanding a language’s grammar opens up comprehensible input and helps the language make sense on a fundamental level.

I would sure like to see those links you mentioned.

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

I guess it depends a bit on why you are learning Gaeilge. To talk like a native speaker, to talk with a native speaker, to communicate with others who are learning it as a second language, to follow Ros na Rún etc?
There are three main dialects: : Ulster, Connacht and Munster. Plus there is Standard Irish, which I suspect is close to Connacht. (I understand there are no native speakers of SI.) The dialects are surprisingly different especially in pronunciation.
I am learning, mainly, to be able to read/translate documents in Munster Irish, but I hope to be able to hold conversations with native speakers in Kerry in due course. (I will also, eventually, need to overcome the hurdles of the old spelling and the old script….) I’m making progress but it is slow- I might have started too late! (Anyone who can offer help on this path, I’d be happy to hear from them.)
I’ve run through Duo Lingo (which I think uses SI) and it certainly has not made me fluent. But it is a useful starting place.
Useful resources I have found are:
Teanglann.ie (Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla etc) https://www.teanglann.ie/en/fgb/b%c3%ad
This also has a pronunciation tab for the 3 main dialects
Abair.ie https://abair.ie/en/
This site will give you pronunciation of phrases that you input (again with the 3 dialects)
I use Google translate at times, but I keep a barrel of salt close by. Sometimes it is quite poetic and other times pathetic - it has the common human fault of preferring to guess wildly rather than admit it does not know!
For Munster Irish I bought a second hand copy of Teach Yourself Irish (1961 edition - not the later update), which gives the grammar of Munster Irish. This can be found online in pdf form. Crucially the audio tracks associated with it are also available online. I have also bought books and audio-books. (there are plenty of other offline resources….)

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

At the risk of carrying a few more coals to Newcastle, I’ve been doing O.K. working with a book called “Learning Irish” by Michael O‘Siadhail (pronounced Meehall O’Sheel). It was recommended to me by a teacher of Irish in Buffalo, NY, when I travelled there back in July & encountered the Buffalo Irish Festival. I found it on that giant river in Brazil for about $40, a book to hold in your hands and 4 CDs chock full of pronunciations. One does need to be a self-starter to best use it. Would probably go better if one had recourse to an actual teacher along with it, but you do what you can.

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

“…moving to Dingle or Feakle…”
Feakle, Steve? You won’t hear a lot of Irish spoken there, I’m afraid! Carraroe, on the other hand….
Go n-éirí go geal libh uilig ar an aistear iontach seo atá roghnaithe agaibh. An Ghaeilge Abú!

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

“Go n-éirí go geal libh uilig ar an aistear iontach seo atá roghnaithe agaibh. An Ghaeilge Abú!”
# Posted by Christmas Eve 7 minutes ago.

Now, that’s just cruel…🙂 It’s well beyond lesson 6 on Duolingo.

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

“There are three main dialects: : Ulster, Connacht and Munster. Plus there is Standard Irish, which I suspect is close to Connacht. (I understand there are no native speakers of SI.) ”

That’s pretty common in Europe, where “the” language is very often a government construct, although usually based on an existing dialect family - Tuscan in Italy, Castilian in Spain, the old kingdom of Hanover in Germany, etc. People learn it in school, and use it for business or writing books or talking to people from other parts of the country.

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

Good luck to all learners, Steve. But literally :
that all may succeed on this excellent journey that you have chosen. Irish language- Hurrah!
rogha(noun) : choice
roghnaigh(verb ) : choose
roghnóir (noun) : selector
I’m a fan of DuoLingo myself and I appreciate the fact that it hassles me into taking an exercise. Русский язык atá roghnaithe agam air & it supplements

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

…. supplements my broader studies.

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

Caution: Possible too much information warning…
As previously said, I greatly appreciate the comments posted here and sent directly. My goal is not to become a conversant speaker of colloquial Irish. (I live in the states and wouldn’t need it nor be able to keep up with a changing localized language.) I just don’t want to stare blankly at tune titles and/or Irish names wondering how they are pronounced and to get at least some of the talk on TG4.

I’ve had language training in the past: typical high school French and German classes with bits of dialogues to be memorized and grammar rules quickly forgotten; a year of Russian at the Defense Language School with a focus on comprehension and none on speaking; and being dumped by the Army in a small town in Germany where language was accumulated by desperation if I wanted to eat and find a place to live and spoken to the amusement of the locals.

It would be nice to be able to say something comprehensible in Irish on trips to Ireland as I’ve found that folks respond kindly to people who at least make an attempt. So, to all, thanks for the suggestions. I’ll re-subscribe to Duolingo in short order and further investigate the more sophisticated options.

Rath oraibh (according to indifferentlanguages.com)

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

“How Languages Are Learned” Lightbown & Spada is a decent non-tech place to start.

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

If you’re a chrome or Brave user you can install the Google Translate plugin, highlight the text you need to translate and even play back the text for pronunciation. Google Translate has gotten much better for Irish in the last few years.

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

https://www.allaboutirish.ie/

Really recommend these ladies. They have a genuine saibhreas teanga, or richness of language. They do live classes and online content. I actually enjoy their promotional emails even!

Re: Learning Irish Gaelic

https://www.gaelchultur.com/en
Fabulous online classes by native speakers for all levels of learner. Learning materials and great opportunities for conversation.
Sample classes available for free from time to time, so you can get a feel for the classes

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