This month Ben and Emma discussed your questions on balancing Irish learning with other responsibilities as we settle back into our daily routine after the summer break. They’ll had tips on resources for busy people and suggestions for speaking Irish with kids everyday. Gaeilge gach lá!
Bitesize member Lynn asked ‘What do you recommend on those days when the best laid plans end up being a 10 minute window for study?’
Emma suggested that you think of a task that you did that day and try to build a sentence about it. You might find yourself having to look up new words to help you with that thus building your vocabulary.
Many people struggle with dates and numbers so try and write out the date in a sentence : Inniu an _ de mhí _. For example: Inniu an cúigiú lá is fiche de mhí Lúnasa – Today is the 15th of August.
The same idea may be used to practice saying the time. What time is it now? Cén t-am anois é? You can do this throughout the day and will help you to tell the time faster. Soon enough it will become second nature to you!
Create some flashcards of words / phrases that you have recently learned. Keep them somewhere at home where they’re easy to grab. When you have 10 mins, go through them and test yourself. You can always add to this list. This can be done on Quizlet online, too, if you prefer to learn on a computer. Write the English on one side and the Irish on the other and you can test Irish-English or English-Irish.
Ben had suggestions for teaching Irish to your children. Pick a time of the day and speak only Irish with your child for that period. It might be breakfast time, the trip to or from school in the car, when playing a game with your children in the evening, or bedtime. If you don’t know all the words involved in that activity look them up in advance. Keep it varied, so that due to changing context you are all learning new vocabulary and verbs!
Brian and Gerard asked for suggestions for people who would like to use Irish in person but do not live in Ireland?
Depending on where you are in the world, you may find a conversation group (‘ciorcal comhrá’) listed on Peig.ie. Failing that, check social media for Irish associations in your locality. Get in touch and see if they run Irish language events.
Of course, live conversation practice by video call is one of the many features of membership of Bitesize Irish’s online learning platform. Ben hosts a weekly live video call, Bitesize Beo, which gives Grow members the chance to role play scripted conversations in Irish with other all learners around the world. Bitesize Irish Explore Members practice on a monthly basis. Ben answers member’s questions on pronunciation and dialects, the main points of grammar that arise in the scripts are explained and everyone learns a little new vocabulary along the way!
Emma hosts a monthly video call for Bitesize Grow members to practice reading and pronunciation skills, and receive feedback.
Hattie asked What letters are in the Irish alphabet and, what is the sound of each letter?
As Emma explained, the Irish alphabet contains all normal letters of the Roman alphabet without J, K, Q, V, W, X and Y.
The sounds of the vowels vary depending on whether a ‘fada’ is present
The sound of a given consonant is dictated by the vowel nearest to it, giving us ‘broad’ and ‘slender’ consonants.
Lenition (‘séimhiú) may also affect the sound of a consonant.
Moncha asked how to figure out slender or broad consonants when flanked by contradicting indicator-vowels? Examples:
stáisiún traenach (n=?), aerfort (r,f=?)
Ben explained that such words are uncommon, due to the convention in spelling in Irish of ‘broad-vowel-with-broad vowel’ and ‘slender-vowel-with-slender vowel’ (caol le caol, leathan le leathan), but that the sound of the consonant is generally dictated by the vowel closest to it.
For a systematic approach to learning sounds in Irish Ben recommended the book ‘Fuaimeanna na Gaeilge’ by Brian Ó Raghallaigh, and Bitesize’s ‘Irish Pronunciation Crash Course’, which is available to all Bitesize Irish Explore & Grow members. Another good place to listen to how words in Irish sound is fuaimeanna.ie.
Jen asked Can you recommend a dictionary?
If you’d prefer a paper dictionary, the Concise English-Irish Dictionary, which was published in 2020, contains..
- 30,000 entries;
- 85,000 sense units;
- 200,000 phrases and example sentences in Irish;
- a large style and grammar supplement;
The book’s RRP is a very reasonable €30/£25, and it can be purchased from the suppliers listed here.