It’s the month of January and with your new diet plan and abstinence from alcohol waning, we thought of helping those who have made a commitment to improve their Irish language learning for 2013. So get a coffee – Irish one! And read our 10 tips that are aimed to help keep you focused. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments section.
1. Keep a language dialann.
Set a time on a regular basis: daily, weekly or whatever, and write a diary in Irish. It can be as simple as one or two sentences. You can keep it short as this will help you stick to it. You can focus on a particular grammar point or new vocabulary that you learnt. The point is that it will help you think in Irish and how to describe things.
2. Look at the language.
Try and attempt to look at how Irish is written. Look at newspapers, websites and blogs. Here is a blog about resolutions. Check out the Irish News newspaper’s Bluffer section on their Monday edtions, Nuacht24, Foinse, Beo, GaelSceal, TG4. Attempt a translation to help you understand the workings of the language. A great place is TG4’s news Ceannlínte page. This changes everyday with interesting and current issues with interesting vocabulary. It’s short and if you become stuck, the English translation link is available in the top right hand corner of the page.
3. Use online dictionaries
Online Irish dictionaries are free and allow for faster searches of words when doing translations. They also can supply a list of examples of the word in use in sentences. Focal.ie provides a vast reference and has up-to-date technical words. Irishdictionary.ie is quick with many great example sentences. You will save time working on translations while building your vocabulary.
4. Google Translate
Don’t be put off using Google Translate to help with consolidating Irish translations. Do not hold too much weight on it for precise grammar/vocabulary but it can help give you the gist of the meaning.
5. Learn like a child
When you were learning your mother tongue, you didn’t worry about grammar or vocabulary, it just came naturally through fun and play. Take a leaf from when you were a child and apply the same to learning Irish. Watch cartoons in Irish (e.g. Cúla4 or Cúla4 na Óg), sentences are short and very demonstrative and great for picking up phrases. Pick up children’s books from nursery to teenager (whatever your level is), play games (e.g.Digital dialects games) etc. The point is to have fun!
6. Enrol in a class or attend Gaelic events
A night class will help keep you focused. It will have other learners that you can practice with and you can encourage each other. This will help when motivation wanes and life gets in the way. A night class or Gaelic event can be a great place to meet friends and get away from work and the mundane. It’s a great way to practice and use your language. Click here for a link for Northern Ireland classes.
7. Set regular goals
Set small goals for yourself. Spend 10 minutes per day, get an Irish study book from your local library and complete it, watch the weather forecast in Irish or whatever you set, the point is to work your language learning into your routine. It is recommended that a little bit on a regular basis is far better than lengthy sessions on an occasional basis. You can also learn a new word for everyday. TalkIrish has a great feature called ‘Focal an Lae‘ of a new word everyday. Check amach é.
8. Hear the language
Listen to the language. Even if you don’t understand all of it, the point is to get used to hearing the intonations. A good way when you are starting is to listen to Irish radio. You will hear the majority of music so it’s not so much of a study session. Raidió na Gaeltachta (Irish Radio) and I-radio’s bi-lingual pop music show. Listen to conversational CDs/podcasts that come supplied with texts. Listen and follow along in the associated text. This will help you tune into the intonation and pronunciation.
9. Suit your learning to you
When learning vocabulary, create your own mnemonic devices to help you remember the words. Go over the material on a regular basis and take it little by little. It’s better to recap to familiarize yourself with new words rather than taking on too much. Learn the language that reflects your life. Words associated with your job, your hobbies, the things you like etc. This will also help you remember rather than learning vocabulary that you won’t use.
10. Never give up!
There will be times when life gets in the way of things, when you do miss a few night classes, the study book gets to the bottom of the pile or whatever. Remember what made you learn Irish in the first place. Learn from others. Get inspired. Check out Benny Lewis, he is an Irishman and is a polygot. He has many useful tips and interesting articles about learning languages on his website. Check amach é.
And finally and most importantly is to remember to have fun with it. Ádh mór!