Leo in California emailed the following (shortened):
I am subscribed to Bitesize Irish Gaelic and think it is a good way of learning Irish. Eoin, I studied Gaelic for 3 years in the 1950s in Belfast. I have never encountered it since as I have been “away” all those years. What do you think would be the best way to “relearn” again.
I wanted to expand on what I replied to Leo by email, as it’s a great question.
On the positive side, Leo has a head-start for having studied Irish Gaelic before, even if it was many years ago. But if you’re starting from the beginning, the same advice should help you.
Most Irish people have learned Irish Gaelic for much longer than three years, usually throughout their schooling. Many will claim they don’t speak a word of Irish, but this isn’t usually true. In fact, it just goes to show that regular learning of the language will make it hard not to learn (eventually).
It’s true that without usage a language fades from the brain, the same happened me with French. I lived in France twice during my university degree, both studying and as an intern. My French was far from fluent, but living there allowed me to learn enough to have good conversations. But after moving back to Ireland, I didn’t have much interest in keeping it up. A few years later, and I’ve lost quite a lot of it.
Practical advice to (re)learn Irish Gaelic
There are some practical tips for Leo to follow – and these still apply if you have never learned Irish Gaelic.
Don’t aim too high!
Your objective shouldn’t be going from zero to “fluent” in seven days. Aim for something more realistic. Learning Irish is not a short-term commitment.
Having said that, you can train your brain to “flip” to a new language.
Set an achievable schedule
Have a schedule for taking the lessons. If it’s one lesson a week – or 10 – try to stick to the same learning schedule.
Revision is key
Take a lesson, but don’t worry too much about it. Be sure to come back to it after a bit of time – it should be easier the next time and you’ll learn more.
More ways to practice every day
We’ll be offering a new PDF ebook “The Secrets to Practicing Irish Gaelic Every Day” any day now. Keep an eye on that page!
Become a member of Bitesize Irish Gaelic like Leo has, and you can start learning too.