Is Learning The Irish Language As An Adult Practically Impossible?


Learning The Irish Language As An Adult ☘️: Everybody has it etched in their minds that children at a very young age can learn language (of course, the Irish language included) easier and more efficiently than adults. Is that really the case?


As a young kid, I certainly loved my life back then. I can do, eat, and drink (minus the alcohol) almost anything I want without having a care in the world. Money, work, and deadlines are not something I have to think about as a kid. As a result, my brain is as fresh as vegetables.


Mar pháiste óg, is cinnte go raibh grá agam do mo shaol  ansin. Is féidir liom beagnach aon rud a theastaíonn uaim a dhéanamh, a ithe agus a ól (gan an alcól) gan cúram a bheith agam. Ní gá dom smaoineamh ar airgead, obair, agus spriocdhátaí mar pháiste. Mar thoradh air sin, tá m’inchinn chomh úr le glasraí.


Ideally, that is what I want for my life – my brain being fresh, easily absorbing new stuff. Children, in particular, are suitable to learn new things. This, of course, includes language. An Irish kid learning to read, write, and speak can learn the Irish language much more easily than an adult can. Or, so they say. Let us discuss this particular case.


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For Adults learning a new, foreign language like Irish will be quite difficult, but very much possible!


As they say, “it is what it is”. Due to certain circumstances in life, children have more advantages when it comes to learning a new language than adults. This is certainly true for learning the Irish language as a kid versus as an adult with more on the plate. Babies, toddlers, and young children form neural connections at an astonishing rate. We can call this the “critical period”. But as time progresses (approximately 17.4 years), the neural connections becomes more specialised, strengthening the pathways normally used.


Although this is good, it also weakens a human in one aspect: rapid or critical learning. Humans’ brains become more efficient than ever when they age, but it becomes harder for it to learn new things. This flexibility of the brain at a young age is what makes children more suitable to learning a language than adults.


Cé go bhfuil sé seo go maith, lagaíonn sé an duine in aon ghné amháin: foghlaim thapa nó chriticiúil. Éiríonn brains daoine níos éifeachtaí ná riamh nuair a théann siad in aois, ach bíonn sé níos deacra dó rudaí nua a fhoghlaim. Is í an tsolúbthacht seo san inchinn ag aois óg an rud a fhágann go bhfuil leanaí níos oiriúnaí do theanga a fhoghlaim ná do dhaoine fásta.




Additionally, and more importantly, children quickly learn being “thrown” in ideal situations for learning a language. Think about it this way: children have nothing too heavy to do or think about – no heavy responsibility, whatsoever. As a result, they can focus on pretty much anything in singularity the way they want to. Sort of a “monkey see, monkey do” scenario, they are immersed to their guardians speaking to them in, let’s say, the Irish language, which they can easily “absorb” at a very young age.


Being “thrown in” or much better, being immersed, is something that can also quickly cause adults to learn. However, as mentioned above, they have a lot more on their plates. Simply put, this means that the cost of immersion is much greater as adults. They, after all, have added responsibilities in life in which they pour their time and effort to.


Let us use an American writer as an example. He wants to learn the Irish language. It is possible, be that as it may. But, he also has to think about paying bills in the next three weeks. Moreover, he works 9-5 every weekdays, with an additional 5 hours on Saturday for extra income. Imagine trying to sneak in learning the Irish language as an adult with this hectic schedule! I didn’t even mention if he has a family or not!


So, all in all, this is what makes learning the Irish language as an adult harder.



What helps in learning the Irish language as an adult?



Not to worry; even though it might prove difficult, it is still very much possible to learn the Irish Gaelic as an adult! Here some steps you can do to better practice your Irish language skill!


1. Help yourself learn by using an app. I cannot stress enough the importance of technology nowadays! Technology helps in many ways – language-learning included. Use phone apps like Duolingo and Babbel when you have ample time. Utilise them to your advantage and learn the Irish language spending less to none! Also, check out everything the apps offer.


2. Obviously, immerse yourself! Experience is everything! As stated above, immersion is one of the best, if not the best, ways to totally learn the language. If, for example, you have a chance to stay at Ireland, practice doing it within the community. Speak to those fluent in Irish. Start slow and aim low. Then, gradually increase your vocabulary. Also important, immerse yourself in the Irish culture. This will give you a deep appreciation to the language.


3. Use audio books and podcasts. Finally, the last thing I want to suggest is to browse online for audio books and podcasts. Fluentirish, for example, has an array of podcasts you can listen to in your spare time! Listening intently is one good way of learning the Irish language.


What you can get from this


Learning the Irish language as an adult is quite the daunting task when you first look at it. You do not have the fresh mind of a child when trying to learn something as complex as a new language, after all. But, nothing is impossible. Effort and dedication both go long ways – always remember that!



>>Which level?: Find out which level of spoken Irish you understand!