There’s no doubt about it: One of the best ways to really internalize another language is to immerse yourself in it as much as possible.
If you’re not lucky enough to live in a country where your chosen language is spoken, though, that can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.
We Irish language learners, however, are fortunate to have at our disposal TG4: Ireland’s dedicated Irish language channel, which is available to viewers worldwide for free via the internet.
A Great Way to Immerse Yourself in the Language
As we said in Irish-Language Radio: A Free Resource for Language Learners, there is no substitute for hearing the language spoken naturally, at normal speed, by fluent, preferably native, speakers.
Radio is certainly one good option, but for those of us who grew up in the television age, often TV is a more enticing medium.
Another advantage TV has is it allows for the use of subtitles. When you’re just starting out with a language, it can be difficult to spend much time listening without being able to follow the program.
The use of subtitles allows you to absorb some of the language passively while still enjoying the program (which keeps you listening longer!).
Ultimately, of course, you’ll want to avoid subtitles when you can, but when you’re just starting out, they can be a tremendous help in keeping you motivated to keep listening.
If you want to emulate the experience of watching on your TV screen, you can access full-screen view by clicking on a button that looks like a stylized square on the right-hand side of the player.
Hitting “escape” at any point returns you to small-screen viewing.
A variety of programming
Another advantage TV has is that it allows for a wide variety of programming. One person may like sports programs; another may like reality shows or soap operas…TG4 has them all!
How to watch TG4 live
The first step to watching TG4 live is to go to their website:
In the upper left-hand corner you’ll see a link for “TG4 Player.” Once it loads, if the station is currently broadcasting, the current program should start to play.
Once you have the player downloaded, you can streamline things a bit when you want to watch by going to:
Which will take you directly to the player.
A few issues with watching live
There are a couple of issues with watching TG4 live, however, one of which has to do with the fact that the station doesn’t broadcast 24/7. If you don’t happen to live in Ireland, that can be a factor.
Another problem is that some programming is blocked. This is typically stuff that TG4 doesn’t have a license to broadcast on-line, such as American shows and certain sporting events.
It could even happen that the program that’s currently being broadcast isn’t to your tastes. No worries…you can always access the archives!
Tailoring your viewing
When you go to the TG4 website, in the middle of the screen, you’ll see a bar that has the headings “News,” “Drama,” “Sport,” “Music,” “Cula4,” “Documentaries,” “Entertainment,” “Live,” and “Results.”
Most of these headings are self-explanatory. The exception, “Cula4,” is children’s programming.
Clicking on any of those headings will take you to a listing of programs that fall under that category. From there, you can mouse over any listing to read a bit about that program before clicking on it.
If you’re looking for programs with subtitles, you’d do best to avoid “News” (it’s perfect, however, for when you want to practice listening without subtitles!). Much of Cula4’s programming is also unsubtitled.
What to watch?
Programming can vary from season to season, and certainly individual tastes vary, but here are a few consistently popular programs:
- Ros na Rún: This highly addictive soap opera is TG4’s longest running drama. It follows the lives and intrigues of people living in a village in the Conamara Gaeltacht.
- Aifric: This teen-oriented drama/sitcom centers around the life of a 14- 15-year old girl who moves with her eccentric family from Dublin to a small Gaeltacht town.
- Seacht: An intense and edgy drama centered around the lives of a group of university music students.
- Corp + Anam: A TV crime correspondent finds crime creeping too close to home in this fairly intense drama.
- C.U. Burn: Something of a cult comedy centering around a family of undertakers in Donegal.
- Paisean Faisean: A game show in which three young men compete to buy the perfect outfit for a young woman.
- An Jig Gig: A competition to find the best dance act in Ireland.
- Bean an Tí sa Chistín: A cooking contest that pits women who board students during the Gaeltacht summer schools against one another.
- Mo Thinteán Féin: Follows a young Dublin professional woman as she turns a wreck of a house into her dream home.
- Feis & Blood: A competition to find the most talented family in Ireland.
- Bog Stop: A children’s game show that is reasonably easy for learners to follow, even without subtitles.
Of course, this is only a small sampling of the programs on offer, and browsing the listings on the site is sure to turn up several shows you’ll enjoy.
So what are you waiting for? Tune into TG4 and find out how much fun language learning can be!
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