While there is much talk about Irish being a difficult subject, it is certainly a subject that can be learnt quite easily with the help of online resources. Notably, Irish as a language is not dead. In fact, approximately 1.77 million people speak Irish in Ireland today, which is 30% to 40% of the population of Ireland. Most people just learn it as a second language but about 140,000 of them are native Irish speakers.
Amongst school students, about 82,000 of them speak it daily outside of school, which is a lot more than I would have thought. These figures prove that Gaeilge, which is what the language is called in Irish, is not a language in decline. Furthermore, Gaeilge has actually spread outside Ireland, with approximately 9000 Irish speakers in Great Britain and 18,000 in America. Even in Newfoundland, Canada, Irish is one of the main languages and has also been used in space by a Canadian astronaut who sent an Irish tweet from space. Irish is becoming more popular and there is no surprise if it spreads to other countries.
As a result of the increasing popularity of Gaelic Irish, more and more online resources are becoming available for people who are trying to learn Irish. Even though students in Ireland begin learning the language from around 4 or 5 years old, many are not fluent after a few years and must continue to gradually develop their understanding of Irish. Essentially, there are the written, speaking and hearing aspects of Irish in which a knowledge of the Irish verbs plays a pivotal role. People, in general, might even take an interest in the language and aim to learn it. Leaving Cert students might be seeking to expand their vocabulary for their exam to stand out.
Luckily, there are many resources to help you improve your Irish linguistic skills in these areas. If you want to discover the resources out there for your guide to learning Irish, then read this article to help you weigh out your options in developing or beginning your journey to learning Irish.
What Resources are out there to Study Irish?
Learn Irish from TG4
Obviously, the media is a big part of our life and greatly influences the way we communicate and rationalise. In fact, many people around the world have learnt a new language by watching TV shows and movies in that language. Some people even get their accent from the shows and movies they watch. Therefore, TG4 is an excellent resource for learning Irish. TG4 is an Irish language TV channel. Best of all, almost all its programmes are in Irish.
Undoubtedly, surrounding yourself with Irish is a great way to improve your comprehension of the language and what better way than to spend time watching shows and movies in Irish on a TV channel dedicated to it. While the majority of the programmes are in Irish, not every single one is, so you can catch a break from constant Irish every once in a while.
It is an entertaining way to watch and learn Irish and some of the shows even give an insight into Irish culture. Subtitles are provided, so you can translate words into English and then check with the subtitles, which will massively develop and even teach you Irish. It is also accessible to people outside Ireland, so a wide range of people can now learn Irish by watching the shows on TG4 Player. There is no doubt that TG4 will improve your hearing and speaking of Irish.
Begin your learning of Irish with Duolingo
Duolingo is an American app and website with a selection of 36 languages to learn, which includes Irish. The app and website are accessible to people all over the world. It is tailored to the various age groups and different abilities of the Irish language. It starts with the most basic levels of Irish and goes up to more complex levels. Irish greetings and basic phrases, along with the names of animals and food in Irish are what you will begin to learn. It then advances to vocabulary based on politics, science, and business.
You can test yourself and advance to further levels if you are not a beginner in Irish, but simply want to expand your vocabulary. Duolingo gives you a proper foundation of the Irish language. It helps with your written, oral and listening of Irish because there are exercises where you say Irish words and write down the Irish words you hear. These are all areas assessed in the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert Irish exam.
Duolingo is a free app as well and is easy to download, as it is available on iOS and Android devices. You can also use the website version if you are using a public computer and complete the modules in your spare time. Many topics that are useful to the Leaving Cert are covered like the tenses, questions, education, sport, and travel.
Ace your Irish Exam with Brainscape
Brainscape is a web and mobile education platform. Students can engage with flashcards made by other users and can make Irish flashcards themselves. It is not just limited to Irish as a language but is used for many subjects as well. When I was doing my Junior Cert and Leaving Cert exams, I used Brainscape to prepare for my exams, including my Irish exam. It used to be called ‘flashcardlet’ but has now changed to Brainscape to enable students, teachers, and corporate trainers to study the adaptive flashcards.
Being aimed at the general public, the flashcards are suitable for children in primary school up to students in higher institutions. People simply curious about learning Irish and other subjects can download the app or go to the website. Being in university, I still use Brainscape. You can make flashcards like I have, with an Irish keyword on one side and the English translation on the other side. Then, you will remember these keywords for an essay in Paper One or another question for Paper Two.
The app is free, but you can upgrade to get more features out of it which is a long-term investment in your education because every point matter for the Leaving Cert. You can even use the discount code, MOSOPE21MO, for 20% off.
Study Irish with Studyclix
Studyclix is a popular website for the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert that provides notes, quizzes and revision tools for 31 Leaving Cert subjects and 21 Junior Cert subjects, including Irish. The notes are targeted at both Higher and Ordinary Level Irish students. It is also free, and people have the option of upgrading to plus or premium to get more out of it. Benefits of upgrading include state and mock exams, marking schemes, notes, sample essays and videos. Students can access notes from their fellow peers, whilst also simultaneously sharing their own notes.
Prepare with Leaving Cert Irish Past Papers
Every secondary school student and teacher knows how beneficial past papers are. In fact, anyone familiar with the Leaving Cert knows that past papers are one of the best ways to prepare for the Irish Leaving Cert exam. Not only will they acquaint students with the structure of the exam, but they will give students the idea of what type of questions get asked in the Leaving Cert Irish exam and the frequency of the topics that come up.
When I did the Leaving Cert Irish exam, I studied the pattern of questions that come up year to year in the past papers. Then, I was able to make predictions as I noticed a pattern in the poems, stories and essay questions that come up. While predictions are risky, luckily my predictions came true, as it is not always feasible to learn everything from the course. However, it is advisable to learn as much as possible.
Develop your Irish with Superprof
Students struggling with the oral aspect of the exam may not find the above resources as effective because they do not have someone they can converse with. However, with Superprof, you can meet with a face-to-face tutor and talk to them in Irish. They can provide feedback and notes for you to improve your Irish. In the oral, you get a whopping 35 marks just to read a poem and it is very advisable to have your pronunciation of the poetry perfected. Therefore, you can keep reading the poems to your Superprof tutor until you do just that.
You can even listen to aural exams from past papers and write down the answers for your Superprof tutor to correct. For the written exam, your Superprof tutor can go over the poems and stories with you, providing you with sample answers for the questions. Furthermore, you can make unique notes to make your exam stand out. There are many Superprof tutors with different teaching styles for people to find the one that suits them. You can even meet your Superprof tutor virtually or they can meet you in person.
Also, tutors are available to prepare you for the Leaving Cert Irish exam and other tutors can teach you Irish as a language if you desire to learn it for yourself, rather than for examination purposes. Superprof helps with all aspects of your Irish – oral, written and aural!