Learning to speak Irish Gaelic outside of Ireland is hard. It sure can feel like you’re on your own to learn. And what’s a language, after all, but a method of communication with yourself and others.
Claire in New Zealand wrote on our members-only Facebook group:
The biggest thing I think that is holding me back is that I am in New Zealand and don’t have any exposure to Irish people speaking the language.
My mother who is 85 can speak some Irish as she learned it back in Ireland growing up, so I know that will be really helpful in practising the conversations, but her knowledge is very basic. My family members in Ireland do not speak Gaelic.
I can basically choose whether I have exposure to people speaking a language in my daily life. There are people walking around you speaking certain languages, and that’s very dependent on where you live. Then there is what you choose to listen to.
Listening to the radio is a good example of choosing to expose ourselves to people talking, for information or entertainment. The most basic radio to listen to, of course, are the FM radio stations in your area. But you want to make a deep connection with your Irish heritage, right? Let’s dig a little deeper 🙂
Raidió na Gaeltachta is your free 24-hours a day, 7 days a week ticket to immersing yourself in the Gaeltacht. It’s always on. It has a mix of news shows, discussion shows, traditional Irish music shows, and popular music shows. It has people speaking all three main Irish language dialects. Ok, it’s not on your FM radio. But you can tune in on your phone when you’re on the go. That’s a compromise, but a workable one. If you’re into podcasts, they have a whole range of podcasts to listen to.
Here are some more ideas to create your own Gaeltacht:
- Watch TG4 Irish language television online for free, or through your smart TV app, or Chromecast
- Make a list of Irish language news sites you come across (please post your recommendations in the news comments)
- Join Irish language Facebook groups, if Facebook is your thing
- Flick through an Irish language book. Start with simple kids books. All on sale at litriocht.com. We’ve a series of posts on learning the Irish language through reading.
- Pre-plan a Skype call in Irish with someone. That might be pushing you out of your comfort zone, and you might not think it’s possible, but you’ll have to go searching for it!
You can read our tips about practicing to speak Irish every day. Don’t be hard on yourself. Passive listening is much easier than active learning, which should be a small proportion of your exposure to Irish Gaelic. You can learn more about listening, reading and speaking Irish. Of course, try out Bitesize Irish Gaelic for a Bitesize lesson each day.