Learning the Irish language is a wonderful way to celebrate your Irish heritage. It fills my heart with joy to see all of you embracing the beauty of Irish culture with open arms.
In reading my blog, you learn so much about Irish music, dance, traditions, folklore, and recipes. However, there is one big way to enrich all of these experiences: studying the native language that ties all of these cultural items together.
For example, listening to Irish music, visiting historical Irish sites, interacting with Irish family members, reading Irish folk tales, and watching Irish movies are all more engaging once you learn Irish.
Table of Contents
Learning a New Language
Learning a different language can be tough, but having a working knowledge of the Irish language is worth it if you are of Irish descent.
You will be able to converse with your Irish friends and family, enjoy all different forms of Irish media, and enjoy your new skill.
If you ever visit Ireland to learn about where you came from, being able to speak even a little bit of Irish will help you appreciate your visit even more. English is spoken in most of the island of Ireland, but there are some areas known as The Gaeltacht where Irish is the primary language.
There are many ways for complete beginners to learn foreign languages, so today we'll delve into ways to learn Irish.
Learn from People You Know
The best way to start learning Irish words is to consult with Irish speakers you know. If you have any family or friends who are native speakers who are willing to teach you about the basics of Irish, put those connections to good use!
This is one of the best things you can do to learn about the culture of Ireland, because someone who speaks Irish as their primary language will have first-hand experience about where you come from.
However, if you live in America it's highly unlikely you know someone who speaks the Irish language.
Find a Local Class
A great way for adult learners to engage with this material is to find local, in-person Irish language classes. This environment is the best place to meet Irish people in your community, as you can bond over your Irish heritage, develop friendships with people who understand where you and your family come from, and also visit other Irish heritage-related events and festivals together.
Your community center might have an education system that involves an Irish course, and you could also check out your local Irish heritage organization to find out information about language classes in your state.
Check out my list of Irish heritage organizations for all 50 states if you don't know where to start asking!
You don't have to learn about your heritage alone. In doing so, you're joining groups of people who have these same goals all over the nation.
If you would like to work at your own pace and study on a daily basis, there are a lot of online courses for Irish language learners that have popped up in recent years.
Rosetta Stone is one of those classic digital resources that has been around for a while, but there are other, newer options online that can be summoned with a simple Google search.
If you love interactive exercises that will help you learn Irish vocabulary, Duo Lingo is another good option. It's an app that gives you short exercises to complete every day, and it's one of the best things available for people who want to have fun while learning.
There are some wonderful online resources for the Irish language which I recommend.
The first is All About Irish. Patricia, a fluent Irish speaker, teaches Irish to all levels, from beginners to advanced using an online scheduled zoom class format. You can read all about her classes here.
Bitesize Irish is another online learning resource for Irish classes and lessons. Some of these classes are taught through recorded audio by native Irish speakers from Galway.
Let's Learn Irish has a nice selection of classes to choose from and many of them are free.
Irish Language Learners offer online classes that are designed and grouped by the learner's proficiency. They also have a very active Facebook group that can be very helpful for practicing your new skills with other.
Simply set your goals for how you'd like to learn, and find a resource that best fits your personality and goals.
With so many of us spending time online, especially on social media channels, why not join an Irish language learning group on Facebook.
It's a good way to be more productive when entertaining yourself online.
Did you know that Irish or Gaeilge is an option to choose as your display language on Twitter?
Facebook also allows for the buttons and instuctions to be displayed in the Irish language. It can be fun to switch languages in your profile settings for a little while. As the old saying goes "practice makes perfect," so why not learn some new Irish words by using Facebook and Twitter with Irish language settings.
Why not search for an Irish language learning group on your favorite social media platform? Group members are a wonderful source of knowledge and support.
I am Learning Irish is one such group on Facebook.
Podcasts are another wonderful resource for Irish language learners.
Practice with Irish media
If you are an absolute beginner, this trick might be less useful to you than for someone who is at a lower intermediate level or higher.
One way to get accustomed to a new language is to listen to an Irish podcast or some Irish radio stations, read Irish folk tales, or watch Irish movies or TV shows. Observing and listening to other fluent speakers can be really helpful, once you're past a beginner's level.
You can learn new words, get used to the pronunciation of words, and practice the flow of Irish conversation.
The Irish language television station in Ireland is known as TG4. They're website streams some of their television shows, but not all of them are available globally.
However, they do have a YouTube channel where they share traditional Irish music videos. You can hear the language in use in these wonderful videos.
RTE is the Irish national broadcaster. Their website has a page dedicated to their Irish language programming.
The best part about this approach is that it's so entertaining! Name one way to improve your language that's more fun than just watching Irish movies with either English or Irish subtitles.
Believe it or not, it really speeds up the process of learning Irish. Of course, this approach isn't just going to make you fluent, but when it's paired with Irish language courses or learning with friends and family, it can act as a bit of a booster that will speed up your process and make you more comfortable sooner than you would without outside influence.
I hope these ideas have been able to get your gears turning about what way you'd prefer to learn the Irish language: from family, through in-person or online lessons, or through media.
Please choose whichever way works best for you. I'd love to see how you take these things and run with them!
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade