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Micromastery of the Irish Language

Micromastery of the Irish Language

The trouble with wanting to speak Irish Gaelic is that it’s a massive life-long journey. On the pessimistic side of things, you’ll never be fluent like a native speaker. And the journey is difficult (it’s meant to be difficult).

But there is a technique that gives you permission to learn in tiny steps. It’s been called micromastery by author Robert Twigger.

Micromastery says:

  • What if there was a learnable skill that was quite well defined
  • And I could practice it regularly
  • And I could experiment with it
  • And I have the possibility to master this tiny area, even if I can’t speak the full language?

In essence, a micromastery has two important defining characteristics (Twigger describes more, but for me these are the most important):

  1. There’s an entry trick. If you master this trick, you’re already doing better than most beginners who don’t have a structured approach to learning this new thing.
  2. There’s a “hard bit” to get over. You have to work at it. You won’t pick it up with 5 minutes of practice. It will take regular practice. That’s the road to your micromastery.

I love this accessible, optimistic view of learning. It’s giving you permission to learn something small. It’s letting you start with one Bite. It justifies learning that Bite, despite there being an infinite number of Bites ahead of you in the future. Micromastery means that the journey is your reason for being. It gives you permission to be curious in new things. It gets over impostor syndrome where you feel “I’m not good enough”.

Here’s my micromastery challenge suggestion for you to learn to speak the Irish language in a Bitesize piece:

Micromaster the conversation starter “Dia dhuit” and its reponse “Dia is Muire dhuit”.

  • Your entry trick might be to understand the literal meaning of this phrase to say “hello”. It literally means “God to you”.
  • The hard bit is to practice that gutteral “dh” sound. That takes real practice. Say it to your dog. Imagine your dog said it to you, and reply with “Dia is Muire dhuit”.

Here are some resources for this micromastery challenge:

Can you think of other micromasteries for the Irish language? Please leave a reply below this blog post!

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2 thoughts on “Micromastery of the Irish Language”

  1. For me, its always using or thinking little things that are the every day phrases,
    Hello, good by, good morning, how are you, good afternoon, good night & sleep tight.
    Add in the requirement that your kids express “I want” or “I would like” as Gaeilge and
    knowing that will ensure a positive response when in English the outcome is unsure, its
    enough to get them to help me with the language, no much effort. At first my son
    says Tá phone uaim, then he learns to say “ba maith liom phone” at which point I require
    nouns so it becomes “ba maith liom fón póca” so that is a mix of Bearlá agus Gaeilge, ar fad, is maith sin sa teacht ó MacFaden.

  2. John Mc Cartney (Sean Macartaine)

    I find learning the prayers in Irish is a good practice. You did reply that you would do the creed. I can already make my way through the Our father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. I look forward to your e mails.