My Irish education started probably 10 years ago. I haven’t been studying consistently throughout that time though. There were some periods of several years where I didn’t put in any work on it. The first thing I used was this old program which I think was by Transparent. I actually credit some of my early success internalizing the language to using this program. Basically it had a window with lesson text and several buttons at the bottom and another window that would display basic grammatical information about whatever was highlighted in the main lesson window. The other buttons were to have a native speaker speak either the whole sentence or just the word you had selected. So from the very beginning I was trying to replicate the sounds I was hearing instead of trying to guess at what it should really sound like. There also seemed to be a good mix of different dialects represented by the speakers. This was confusing at first, because it took me a while to realize why sometimes “agat” sounded like “at” and sometimes like “ugut”. But the other great thing about it was that I had easy access to the basic grammar component. It wasn’t very detailed – usually just a single line. But it was enough to start piecing together the logical part of the language without actually reading a traditional lesson style analysis of it.
I haven’t actually used the Pimsleur method, but this video is a good introduction to some basic concepts of learning a language efficiently and effectively.
[url=http://www.youtube.com/user/PimsleurApproach?v=eTEaDyTxgIQ&feature=pyv&ad=10429929665&kw=pimsleur approach]http://www.youtube.com/user/PimsleurApproach?v=eTEaDyTxgIQ&feature=pyv&ad=10429929665&kw=pimsleur approach[/url]
Overall I think it is best to try not to overthink things too much. But there are certain ways in which thinking about it can definitely benefit you. I would encourage anyone learning a language to read the following page in its entirity:
A lot of information in there is stuff I wish I knew back when I started learning languages. Know when to approach language learning as a child would and when to approach it as an adult. You can learn a lot of the workings of a language much faster as an adult than you could as a child, but the fluency and speed that come with innateness – not having to think about it consciously as you’re doing it – are where your childish side will have the edge.