Welcome to the second installment of our Irish Learner Profiles series! In publishing these profiles, we hope to showcase the diversity of the international Irish learning community.
Last month we introduced you to Fabrizio: a student of the Irish language who lives in Rome, Italy.
This time we’re going to take you all the way to Russia!
Many thanks to Marina, an Irish learner who lives in Russia, for agreeing to be interviewed for this post!
To start, please tell me a little about yourself
My name is Marina. I live in Russia. I’m a linguist and currently work as a translator. Languages have been my passion for a very long time, but also I love music, including traditional music, mostly (not surprisingly) Celtic and Scandinavian.
How long have you been studying Irish?
About a year or so. I’ve been studying it on and off for quite some time, but only recently started studying really seriously.
What motivated you to learn Irish?
Love for languages and love for Ireland. I don’t have Irish blood in me, but I’ve always been interested in Irish culture, and I think it’s impossible to understand a culture without knowing its language.
What methods do you or have you used? Have you ever had a teacher?
I’ve never had a teacher. I try to combine different methods, but mostly use textbooks with audio recordings (audio is definitely a must).
It’s a good method for systematic studying, but the problem, I suppose, is the lack of feedback and interactivity, which can lower your motivation after some time. And, of course, the lack of speaking practice
What about the language have you found particularly challenging?
Well, initial mutations are probably one of the most unusual features of Irish, in comparison to non-Celtic languages. It’s quite easy to learn which sound changes to which, but hard to remember when it does so.
Are you currently specializing in a particular dialect?
Not at the moment. Actually, I’m interested in all dialects and differences between them, but I understand that studying them all at once is not very effective, so I’ll have to choose at some point.
Do you ever have the opportunity to converse with others using Irish? Perhaps via Skype?
Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to actually speak Irish, only to write it.
Have you visited Ireland?
Last summer I visited Ireland for the first time and I’m planning to go again this year. I haven’t done any courses there, but would definitely like to.
What advice would you give to someone who is learning the language?
Not going to be very original, but my advice is – don’t get discouraged by difficulties.
When I opened an Irish textbook for the very first time, it seemed quite terrifying. Almost everything about Irish – pronunciation, spelling, grammar – was very different from my native language or other languages I know.
But the more I learned, the clearer everything became and the easier it was to find something familiar and draw parallels with other languages.
That being said, it’s also important not to think of Irish in terms of another language. The sooner you start to perceive it as it is, the better.
Thanks for sharing, Marina!
For our readers: Do you find these profiles useful or interesting? Can you think of any additional questions you’d like asked in subsequent interviews? Would you be interested in being interviewed yourself, or do you know of someone we should ask? Let us know below, or contact Audrey at Audrey_Nickel@yahoo.com.