People have their reasons for which they embark on the “learning a new language” adventure. Maybe they want to improve themselves or they are planning a long trip and want to have an easy time visiting other countries. Whatever the reason may be, learning a new language can be an easy task if you have the right tools & tactics.
Kari Miller, a member of our Irish learning community, shares her beautiful story of learning Irish Gaelic and gives out some really good advice for those who haven’t made their minds just yet. Kari is from Janesville, Wisconsin (US) and visited Ireland recently where she had the chance to test out the new language she just learned.
Where abouts in the world do you live and what do you like about that place?
I live in Janesville, Wisconsin (in the United States) which is just a little south of our capitol city of Madison. I like that it is close to a lot of larger cities like Milwaukee and Chicago. I get big city benefits without the big city hassles.
How do you approach an Irish speaker to try out some Irish on them and what is their reaction?
First, I take a deep breath to work up my courage to give it a try. Then, I just introduce myself in Irish and hope I am understood. My first experience trying out my Irish was last year. Jimmy Deenihan, T.D. and Minister for the Diaspora, was in Milwaukee for a St. Patrick’s Day event to which I was invited. I knew he was an Irish speaker, so I mustered up all of my courage, introduced myself, and told him it was nice to meet him. (I like to jump off the deep end apparently with my Irish practice-taking on a Teachta Dála as my first “victim”.)
Well, I must have done fairly well because he took off speaking Irish at warp speed. I understood about every 8th word but was able to get the gist of what he was saying. He actually thought I was Irish which, of course, I thought was a wonderful compliment.
More recently, I visited Inis Meáin, the least populated and least visited of the Aran Islands and also a Gaeltacht. It was great to hear Irish being spoken almost exclusively. I think I surprised more than one farmer with a “Dia duit” and “Bhí an radharc seo go h-áilainn!” I also happened to pop into a small restaurant/craft shop for lunch and again, took a deep breath gave my Irish a go. The lady who owned the shop was wonderful and gave me a mini lesson on how “broad goes with broad and slender with slender”. She expressed surprise at how much I knew and how good my pronunciation was.
In general, all of my attempts at speaking Irish with native speakers has been positive and very encouraging. Occasionally, I will get a “Why on earth do you want to learn that? You’ll never need it.” I probably don’t need it, but I want it nonetheless. Learning and speaking Irish has opened up a whole new window of understanding and appreciation of Ireland and its culture. I think it’s important to preserve this uniquely Irish contribution.
What got you wanting to speak Irish Gaelic?
I am embarrassed to admit that I really wasn’t aware that Ireland had its own language when I first visited. I absolutely fell in love with the country, and wanted to learn more about its history and culture. I managed to turn my love of Ireland into a job and landed a position organizing tours of the west coast of Ireland centered mainly in County Clare.
Since taking on this position, I have the opportunity to travel to Ireland regularly and decided to take on Irish as a challenge and as a way to learn more about Irish culture. I always share a little Irish with my tour guests. I hope they go home and continue to say “Sláinte” and “Fáilte” long after their visit to Ireland is over.
Do you have Irish ancestry? Tell us about it.
I actually do not have a lot of Irish ancestry-apparently a great great grandmother was Irish, but I have yet to confirm it. My boss tells me that being Irish is a state of mind. I agree with that, but I think it is more a state of heart. I am definitely Irish in my heart.
How do you use Bitesize Irish Gaelic?
I use the audio lessons the most. I listen to lessons while on my way to and from work. It’s an easy time for me to work a little Irish into each day-and then practice on my poor, unsuspecting co-workers.
HINT: You can also try the Bitesize Irish Gaelic Audio Program!
What advice would you have for a total beginner of Irish Gaelic?
I would advise them to not be daunted by it.
Just try to squeeze a little bit of Irish into each day.
Before you know it, those little bits grow into more and more understanding and appreciation. Before you know it, you’ll be talking to a T.D.!
Thank you, Kari! Falling in love with the Irish landscapes and the Irish Gaelic language is such a beautiful reason to want to learn the Irish Language. Do you want to start your own Irish adventure but still have some doubts about learning the Irish language? Take a free trial!.
Embark on your own Irish Gaelic learning adventure! Sign up for Bitesize Irish Gaelic.