Where can I learn Irish online for free? Five of the best ways to brush up on your language or learn from scratch
Life & Style

Where can I learn Irish online for free? Five of the best ways to brush up on your language or learn from scratch

IT'S SEACHTAIN na Gaeilge, and there's never been a better time to brush up on your cúpla focal.

Each year, Seachtain na Gaeilge encourages those who speak Irish-- or those who wish to learn-- to use their few words in everyday life.

Usually, there will be major events planned to help people foster their love of their native tongue, with community parties, school-wide competitions and festivals across Ireland and the world.

This year, these big in-person events can't happen-- but that doesn't mean you won't be able to pick up any Irish. Far from it, in fact.

The internet has plenty of language websites and online groups where you can practice what you already know or learn the gorgeous old language from scratch-- and the best part is many of this is free of charge.

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So, for Seachtain na Gaeilge 2021-- where is the best place to learn Irish online?

 

Duolingo

Duolingo's mascot celebrates the launch of the Irish language (Twitter)

In 2014 the major education site Duolingo added the Irish language to its already-established list of languages which include Chinese, German and French.

The structure of learning works for beginners, starting with important but simple phrases to lay the groundwork for fluency, until before you know it you’re writing full-on sentences.

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But, if you still have a good level of Irish from school but want to increase your fluency, the website provides the option to test yourself before starting the course, and lets you skip a few levels if you perform well.

The website and app are free to use, with the option of paying a subscription to get rid of ads or have unlimited tries at a lesson.

 

CLILstore

This website is maintained by teachers, so you know you're getting the best lessons available!

Clilstore allows language teachers to author and share multimedia language-learning modules, so if you're looking to learn more Irish you can log on and take part in one of the 150 different Irish units.

Whether you're a beginner, can hold a conversation or just want to learn the words to the Irish national a them, there'll be something on Clilstore to help you on your way.

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Podcasts

A relatively new medium that has exploded in popularity in recent years, Podcasts are extremely helpful when it comes to picking up a new language, partly because you can hear pronunciations in a natural way--from the speaker-- rather than guessing from seeing the word written down or hearing it being regurgitated by a computer.

For the absolute beginner, try Bitesize Irish to help you get to grips with the language-- you can find this on Spotify.

For those who are interested in how the language works, recurring themes and how Irish place names were forced to anglicise (See; Cill Áirne to Killarney, Baile Átha Cliath to Dublin), while still getting a laugh out of the entertaining presenters-- Motherfoclóir is the one for you, available on multiplemplatforms.

If you're more confident in your Irish and you just want to use it more, check out Beo Ar Éigean from RTÉ. It's certainly not for beginners, and you'd want a good grasp of the language-- but the episodes are fun and entertaining, and well worth looking up.

 

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Pop Up Gaeltachts

Group shot of those at a Pop-Up Gaeltacht in 2017-- but there's plenty of opportunities online

Normally, you'd attend a Pop Up Gaeltacht in person, usually in a pub, where you'd all crowd around and chat to each other as Gaeilge, putting your Irish to good use while making friends.

While we can't all crowd into a pub, many Pop Up Gaeltachts are still taking place online, via Zoom or other social media platforms.

Those involved are usually very open to talking to people whatever their level of Irish is-- as long as you're making an effort to learn you'll be welcome with open arms, and it's true that there's no better way to learn a language than by speaking it.

 

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Social Media

Irish isn't as 'dead' a language as some people might have you think-- did you know you can change your Facebook settings so that everything shows up as Gaeilge?

Even if you don't have a word of Irish, you likely know the Facebook layout so well by now that you'll still understand how to use it through Irish. And before you know it, you've picked up a few sentences without even realising.

There's also pages like @TheIrishFor, the Twitter branch of the Motherfoclóir podcast, which shares Irish news and discussions, as well as doing an 'Irish word of the day' segment which is usually based around something massive going on in the news that day-- like when President Michael D Higgins got his new puppy, Misneach.

 

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