Member question: How can I re-learn Irish Gaelic

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.

On the positive side, I think you have an advantage over someone who may have just arrived to the language for the first time. It’s true that without usage a language fades from the brain, the same is happening me with French.However, you have already (although many years ago) gotten a rhythm for the language.

What you now need to do it work hard at it!

  • Have a schedule for taking the lessons. If it’s one lessons, or 10 lessons, per week, 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.
  • Very soon we’ll be launching a new PDF ebook – see http://www.bitesizeirishgaelic.com/blog/ebook-practice-irish-secret/

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2 thoughts on “Member question: How can I re-learn Irish Gaelic”

  1. A few years ago, i visited in France Bretagne,where some old people spoke breton,and i understand not a single word of that language.In the future will i take a short holiday in Ireland. And i think when i have a notice of the Gaelic language it goes easy

    1. You’ll hear Irish being spoken by the locals on the Aran Islands, for example. But you have to be careful (almost sneak up on them!… I’m partly joking). Because they’ll see that you’re a tourist and they will only speak English with you. Just keep your ears open in the Gaeltacht regions.

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