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Finding the Best Way to Help You Speak Irish Gaelic

Kerry, Ireland - Learn Irish

Just recently, I wrote about our efforts to provide a service of one-to-one tutors for helping you learn to speak Irish Gaelic.

I’ve decided that this incarnation of the tutor service will not go ahead, to be able to focus on our strengths for helping you.

We are best at helping you learn to speak the language of your Irish ancestors through our online tools and language support.

This does not mean we’re ruling out some kind of virtual face-to-face service. As Pat told us after meeting his tutor during our test phase:

One of the features unique to “BIG Live” that I found most helpful was the direct and immediate interaction with the tutor. I was surprised at how helpful it was to be able to actually “see” how Aonghus pronounced some of the more difficult words. He took the time to show me different techniques to produce some of the more subtle sounds that aren’t typically found in English pronunciation.

So the value of being able to interact with an Irish language speaker is not lost on us. There may be other ways to provide this type of service – and I’m not ruling out that type of service in the future. Learning a language is really hard, and even harder when you don’t have people around you who are speaking the language every day.

We can help you today in these ways:

  1. Bitesize Irish Gaelic online program: learn to speak the language of your ancestors, in Bitesize portions. As a member, you can contact our language support at the end of each lesson if you need help with something. It’s a long journey to speak some Irish, but with this program you can learn in Bitesize portions any time you like.
  2. Irish for Beginners: a free email course over thirty days, which includes access to our popular ebook “The Irish Language: Your Key to Gaelic Ireland“.
  3. Bitesize Irish Gaelic Podcast: free discussion show in English. You get to hear the experiences of people like you interested in Irish Gaelic and Irish culture.
  4. Learn Irish With Eoin: an crash-course for beginners. Recorded by Eoin in Limerick, Ireland. Available in limited edition as a CD at the time of writing, and downloadable as audio files with accompanying PDF files.
  5. Audio Program: a full 90-lesson audio course, based on our Bitesize lessons.
  6. Ebook “The Secrets to Practicing Irish Gaelic Every Day” gives you handy steps in incorporating the Irish language into your everyday life, once you’ve already gotten started into learning the language.
  7. Pronunciation Cheat Sheets: our hugely popular cheat sheets help you decipher the pronunciation of just about any written Irish Gaelic word using our 4-Step Method.

This is a good time to cover what you can do to keep learning the language:

  1. Break the journey into one of Bitesize portions. Don’t get overwhelmed with all the work ahead of you.
  2. Attend any Irish language lessons you can find locally.
  3. Attend an annual immersion weekend if there’s one within traveling distance to you.
  4. Reach out, and start something, as Dineen Grow said on our podcast.
  5. Listen to Raidió na Gaeltachta with both passive and active listening, as Audrey Nickel described.
  6. Watch TG4 television, which has built-in subtitles.
  7. Listen to songs in Irish Gaelic.
  8. Read simple children’s books in Irish Gaelic.
  9. …and what else would you recommend? Feel free to leave a reply below.

Thanks to each of the people who participated in our Bitesize Irish Gaelic Live “test” stage: Pat, Renee, Isa, Jason, Jose and Debbie. Their patience, understanding, and enthusiasm was always generous.

Our focus on what works for us is also a reminder for you as a learner of Irish Gaelic: don’t bite off more than you can chew. Take it one bite at a time, and you’ll figure things out over time. The worst you could do is to be so scared that you don’t even try it out, only to live to regret you never started to learn Irish Gaelic.

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16 thoughts on “Finding the Best Way to Help You Speak Irish Gaelic”

  1. Bliain Úr mhaith doibh,

    Do think keeping to the web/Internet is a most sensible and supportable model having read your post on the issues with building real-time tutoring system. I would like to see web content continually grow each year adding more conversational situations, attending a sporting event, at the police station(I’m innocent!), at the docks/fishing, playground, talking to kids vs adults, on the phone, and so forth.

    Another online model to encourage real-time speaking could be by hosting n-way forums or a speaker series/webcast which could be limited by signup or subscription. Practicing 2 way communication is pretty key. One example of web technology that could support it might beGoogle Hangouts (http://www.google.com/hangouts/)…
    Topics besides basic language and short stories with questions/answers might include on cooking, sport, travel, music, medicine, etc.

    Lastly books, books, books! (audio, online, and printed). I would like to see a new resource — library/index setup to help me find books to go with my studies.


  2. I like your idea, Sinead, to create a context. I watch TG4 and find it interesting but short vignettes of daily life would be very helpful. However, the tutoring service might still be nice to have as an option when you want to test your conversational skills.

  3. Evelyn St. Dennis

    I thought I had successfully signed up for your free introductory course but I received only one lesson and am now being asked to sign up again. What should I do?

  4. I am going to Ireland in September from Australia for a holiday and I would really like to do some sort of immersion course while i was there. do you offer these?

  5. Maeve ThunderChild

    I love the little teeny bits I get in my email from time to time…although I do think a number of them never made it to me. If I had any money what so ever for pursuing it more intensely I definitely would…unfortunately, I cannot.

  6. This is an absolute brilliant course to do, yes I have gotten stuck with the pronunciation of a word, but with all the information and resource material available to help you out I believe that I should have the problem solved in no time.

  7. I had an idea. It might be a bit of work, but do-able. You could create short videos of conversations. Two people meeting at a pub and greeting each other, then having a short conversation. A woman going into a store and asking for something, the proprietor answering her, etc. If doing it in settings is too complicated, then just little “plays” where the speakers act it out is ok too. The reason it is video is we get to see the body language and faces. The conversation should be at normal speed, not slowed down. It could link to a transcription so we can see the words.

    Just an idea.

    Sinéad Ní Caiside

    1. Janet, You may already know this but just in case you don’t, there is a series of videos available free on youtube.com called “Now you’re talking”. I first learned about them when I was at Oideas Gael last year and I’ve been watching them religiously; along with Bite Size of course, and all the other material I’ve collected over time.
      The videos are a bit dated and they focus primarily on Ulster Irish, but they are exactly the format you described in your post. Give them a look if you haven’t already.