Five Tips for Practicing Irish Daily (Ep. 12)

Are you learning Irish on your own? Do you feel like there’s no way to get into learning some Irish in your everyday life? Audrey Nickel shares five top tips to practicing Irish Gaelic on a daily basis. And you don’t need to be an advanced learner to practice these tips. Audrey recommends you make speaking Irish part of your life, and not just a side interest.

What you’ll hear

  1. Label everything – with tips about whether to use translations and phonetics
  2. Sing a song – and how music is closely connected with how the brain learns (and how to use that for your own learning)
  3. Using the radio – both passive and active listening
  4. Read something – including the value of reading aloud
  5. Just blog it

These strategies are taken from our e-book written by Audrey, The Secrets to Practicing Irish Gaelic Every Day.

What’s mentioned

  1. Be aware of Irish dialects, don’t be afraid of them
  2. Cén t-Am É? book for kids by Siobhán Grogan
  3. Singing in Irish Gaelic by Mary McLaughlin – comes with a CD. Gives the song slowly as speech, then gives the song slowly without music. Excellent for learners.
  4. Amhrán is Fiche – Irish karaoke for your computer!
  5. Stóir is a Stórín by Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin – comes with a book of songs in the Irish language, including translations
  6. Litrí and are two online stores specializing in Irish language products
  7. Raidió na Gaeltachta (and our post on how to listen)
  8. TG4 Irish language television (and our post on how to watch)
  9. Irish Learner’s Forum – Audrey is “Redwolf” there

Do you have any questions about the approaches Audrey mentions, or any of your own tips? Be sure to add your comment below.

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17 thoughts on “Five Tips for Practicing Irish Daily (Ep. 12)”

  1. Kyle MacWilliams

    Good day. I have been catching up on the podcast episodes and listened to #12 on my way to/ from work this past Friday. (20 minute drive one way)
    I found it quite helpful, yet curious at the same time. The part I have issues on is the reading part. I am currently using Rosetta Stone to learn as a base platform while I gather up a multitude of other resources. (TG4, TG Lurgan – YouTube channel, radio na gaeltachta, phone Apps)
    I already hear a difference in certain words as spoken from an array of people and platforms. For instance Dia Duit can sound like Dia Huit, or Gia Guit, or Dia / Gia Ditch. I do realize that the bh = a v sound, but other than that it appears to be quite difficult to know what letter and combo nation makes what sound. Even to know exactly what sounds a letter with a fada make is difficult for me as a beginner. I have been able to pick up a great deal of words and phrases by researching things on my own thru the internet. Be it blogs, YouTube or listening to the radio in the back ground while I work.
    I would like to read, I am just not sure I would be saying the word in my head correctly. I would really dislike to commit words to memory incorrectly.

    1. Kyle – nice to have you as a listener during your commute!

      I understand it can be really tough seeing how Irish is spelled, and figuring out from that how to pronounce it. You’re doing great exposing yourself to the spoken word, like on Raidió na Gaeltachta.

      It’s for this exact reason we created our Pronunciation Cheat Sheets:

      It’s an illustrated map for you to break down just about any written word, and decipher approximately how it should be pronounced. It’s a real help when you come across unfamiliar words.

  2. ‘Labhair í agus tiocfaidh sí’ – ‘Speak and it will come’
    That is my mantra.

    ‘Ma chaillimse mo theanga chaillfidh mé mo chaill
    mar is fearr liomse mo theanga na an greim a théann im bhéal
    Bhí sí agam im níonan is ta sé agam le sleacht
    is go dtí an la gur churfar síos mé, beidh sé agam go beacht’
    Tomas na Graige

    The above was written by Tomas O’Chinnéide as Chontae Chíarraí
    Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

    1. > ‘Labhair í agus tiocfaidh sí’ – ‘Speak and it will come’

      How true. Go raibh maith agat, a Johnny. Are you an Irish speaker yourself?

  3. So true about learning the language through music and song! It was Celtic music that got me interested in learning Irish and I learnt several songs (and many words) just by listening to them over and over. I could sing in Irish before I even knew what it meant!

  4. Singin in Irish.

    I have two songs at me in Irish and i hope to learn another couple soon. Of the two i have, i was paid the compliment {by an Irishman}, of singin them as though i was a native speaker.
    The way i do it is :
    1/I look for a song on Utube that has as many examples of it as possible.
    2/if i am lucky enough to be able to cull i then look for the clearest diction. The Dubliners might be Irish music royalty, but I’ve found that in Irish they stretch and blur the words in the manner Eoin was talking about, and if someone told me they were copying their songs phonetically as i am ,i would believe it.
    3/next, i listen to the song over and over , and then over and over again. A section at a time, writing phonetically each word.
    3a/ I compare the different examples by different people ,and compare it to the words in Irish if i have them.
    As Audrey observed, i usually don’t make the leap from the phonetics i wrote, but because i recognize this is a problem i am going to try with my latest attempt. Once i am happy i can get my tongue around the whole strings of words as fast as the song dictates ,and in the required rhythm, I will start reading from the Irish side, and when this goes as well, i aim to rub out the penciled phonetics.
    may goodness be at you.
    is mise mehull

  5. Home sickness for a place I’ve never been! Yes . If we take the somewhat scientific and Philosophic view that we are more than the person described on our birth certificates we might see that many of our characteristics are atavistic. Some physical, “he smiles like great grandfather”. Others psychological, “his great grandmother had that temper”. or “your grandmother was an artist”. etc. Also the like of food intolerance disease,and some metabolic predispositions like diabetes have been shown to be a result of ancestors living circumstances long past, and their influence on a system scientists are coming to call “epigenitic”.
    This SUM, our complete selves (including the subconscious,Physical body and instincts ) is a much greater entity than can be described by our birth certificate identity and for myself i have given it the name “mehull”.
    Johann Herder 1744-1803 had the idea that it was the land itself/herself that crafted/molded us to the extent that we were different from others. In other words an Irishman was different from an Englishman or Australian Aboriginal because IRELAND made him that way, as England and Australia produced their variant human examples/tribes/races.

    Easy to believe when we look at the physical difference betwixt a Gael and an Australian,(a real Australian not them white fellers who say they are in charge), but i believe that the proposition holds true for many less obvious and unstudied traits as well from definitions of beauty, to musical tastes. (anybody else get that chill down the spine from the war pipes?)

    So ,in my own case i have been here (Australia) ,by some reckonings, about 150 years. I live in a body though that was crafted by a land (Eriu/Fodhla/Banbha/ Ireland/or Inisfail, over at least 3000 years. Where do i long to be? “Not hard to say that” as many an Irish story includes. In today’s world we are taught from birth that the person in the mirror, (and on the birth certificate)is THE important individual. If we could just realize that Scientifically, and philosophically, we are not the individual entities we conceitedly imagine ourselves to be, it would no mystery to us why we might pine for a land we haven’t been to (in this life time).

    In closing let me say that for me ,being in a circumstance economically that more or less rules out a visit home, i think of Ireland somewhat like my distant ancestor thought of Tir-Nir -In OG. As a magical land on the horizon where some real Gaels still live.
    It warms my heart to see via this medium, the evidence for this.
    may goodness be at you all.
    is mise mehull

  6. This was an excellent podcast!!!
    Very helpfull, it gave me back some self confidence about continuing my efforts to learn.
    Great tips about posting around the house but most helpfull was that Audrey gave us some directions about books and songs.
    Many many thanks to Ms. Audrey and many many thanks to Eoin for keeping us on track with the podcasts!!!

    1. Agreed, Audrey shared some excellent practical advice in this episode. Glad to hear it helped with your motivation to speak Irish.

  7. This was a great podcast, Eoin. I listened to it with the girls and we are going to stick up post-it notes, one room at a time and try to use more Irish daily.

    Right now we are working on dog commands for the new pup, Finley. I know you use a few with Uisce. Advice appreciated!

    1. Thanks Jody. And thank you for sharing the link in your newsletter, I appreciate it.

      Hope the post-its go all over!

      Here’s a couple of dog commands for poor Finley:

      Suí síos! (Sit down!) /see SHEE-oss/

      Amach! (Out!) /AH-mock/ (with a throaty “ck” at the end)

      Anseo! (Here!) /ON-shuh/

  8. Thanks for the great tips, and for another great podcast! I’m looking forward to when the gibberish on raidio na gaeltachta turns into Irish! 😉

    1. Keep at it, Matt! I know it can be frustrating not understanding. It is frustrating. But when you do here a word you might understand (like “agus”, or shortened to “is”), write is down in a list. The list will grow over time, and keep reviewing it, and listening more.

      Thanks for the comment!

    2. It’s worth it to keep listening because it’s so exciting when you start to understand a few words here and there and then sometimes even get the general idea of what they are talking about. Go n-eiri leat!

  9. Sorry that this episode went out with two problems 😛 First, the site was down when our newsletter got sent out. So you may have seen an error message. Second, it was published a few days after the scheduled time.

    But thanks again to Audrey. These tips are fantastic for learning a little more Irish each day.

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