How To Become Fluent In Irish: 🇮🇪 How To Learn Fluent Irish Language!
– An expat discusses the options available…
Living in sunny Louisiana, in the Southern United States for thirty years now I have to admit that my spoken Irish has become a little rusty since my days as a teenager in the Donegal Gaeltacht – Coláiste Mhachaire Rabhartaigh to be precise – an all-Irish language school in County Donegal, Ireland. Those were some of the happiest days of my life, holidaying in an area of outstanding natural beauty, discovering the famed beaches of the North West whilst becoming fluent in the Irish language or Gaelic as some people refer to Ireland’s native tongue.
There can sometimes be a debate as to whether it is the Irish language, Gaelic or Gaeilge – to be honest – they are all correct in my book!
So after all these years without the Irish language in my life I have decided to try and regain my fluency in Gaeilge or Gaelic. I think it is really important for anyone of an Irish heritage – to become fluent in Irish – but up to now it has not been easy to know where to start. The lucky thing is there are a plethora of resources out there available to the Irish language learner like myself who wants to brush up on my Donegal or Ulster Irish. So I have compiled a list of the best ways to maintain and develop your fluency in Irish – and hopefully give you some ideas on how to becomemore fluent in Irish.. so sit back and enjoy!
RTÉ Radio na Gaeltachta
One of the great things about modern life is the technology that enables us to connect with each-other wherever we are in the world. Radio na Gaeltachta is an excellent way to maintain fluency in Irish. I regularly tune into hear the various dialects of Ulster, Connaught and Munster Irish. The great thing about Radio na Gaeltachta is that it gives the Irish language learner access to a high standard of spoken Irish throughout the day so whether you’re chilling in Cali or relaxing in Reykavik you can maintain your fluent Irish. This station is definitely aimed at a native speaker audience who has great fluency in Irish. It is not really aimed at people who are seeking to become fluent in Irish – or learn Irish in 3 months etc.
There has always been a debate should it be Radio na Gaeilge or Radio na Gaeltachta. It is aimed at the native Gaeltacht audience and can sometimes be too fast or too “fluent” for learners. This can sometimes put them off and make them lose confidence.
However sometimes I find the Irish spoken on Radio na Gaeltachta difficult to understand especially for someone who hasn’t spoken fluent Irish with native speakers for some time. The topics can also be very localised to a particular Irish language community and for someone who is not up to date with the details of certain issues such as the intricacies of European Union fishing legislation or the death notices my attention can easily drift. A
ll in all listening to Irish language radio offers the learner an insight into life in Irish language communities but at times it can be too parochial.
Irish Language Courses
You don’t have to be a school aged student anymore to benefit from the many Irish language courses available. During a recent holiday in the Donegal Gaeltacht I had the opportunity to attend a week long course. The course was open to all ages and contained a wide range of adult learners from a diverse range of backgrounds and nationalities such as Japan, France and the United States to name a few.
In recent times – there have even been language promotion officers who have learned fluent Irish – from places as far flung as Russia!
Our Irish language tutor was Múinteoir Brendan whose job was to take us through a mixture of grammar, reading comprehension and of course speaking Irish, to what we hoped would be an improved fluency. I have nothing but praise for our tutor who guided us deftly through the many pitfalls of Irish language grammar and encouraged us to speak Irish everyday. This was a great experience and a lifeline for those of us who treasure the Irish language.
The only thing is the cost is rather prohibitive.It also is a not easy for Irish language scholars like myself to attend an Irish language course as often as I would like to. In summary this is an excellent way to practice your Irish language speaking skills if you live in Ireland.
The Irish language learner community is new to the world of podcasting. Personally I don’t know where I’d be without the services of FluentIrish.com . This podcast is indispensable for the language learner who aspires to develop their fluency in their native Irish language. This fabulous resource offers podcasts in all three dialects with interesting and informative discussions with broadcasters who are in tune with the needs of Irish languages speakers like myself who albeit a little rusty like to hear discussions on a wide range of topics.
Personally I enjoy listening to FluentIrish.com whilst fishing along the bayoux near my southern pied de terre or commuting the hour or so through the heavy Baton Rouge traffic.I am transported back to those halcyon days in the Donegal Gaeltacht when learning the Irish language was fun and fresh.I cannot recommend this podcast highly enough.
Whether you live in Ireland or further afield – such as myself in Lousiana – you can not go too a far wrong by working on becoming fluent by listening to FluentIrish. The great thing for people like me is that you can start at a level where you feel comfortable – and then gradually but steadily gain confidence and become more fluent in Irish as you listen everyday!
You can see more detail here on the best Irish language podcasts out there for all types of learners.