cead focal as Gaeilge. first words as Gaeilge…what should your childs first words be?

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    Dia Daoibh,
    I have an 11month baby and have been speaking as Gaeilge to her but her first words are ma and da. She recognises some phrases like slan and bualadh bos etc but was wondering what would usually be a kids first words as Gaeilge? I say words over and over like madadh/madra and crann and mamai dadai but maybe they are too difficult for her. Any suggestions for what words we could try with her? Go raibh maith agaibh.

    Héilics Órbhuí

    “(na) chéad fhocail” (le séimhiú) 😉

    I would just focus on words that reflect stuff she can visually conceptualize, i.e. use simple words that relate to things around her or that you do with her. I think you’re on the right track – just choose simple one- to two-syllable words for things you can show her or show her pictures of. I wouldn’t worry yet which words are easy for her to say, because children of that age are rarely able to say anything perfectly anyways. The more sounds of the language you can get her accustomed to the better. At that age, the child has no native language, so giving her words that a grown English person would have a hard time saying in Irish is not a bad thing because to her it’s all new anyways.


    A decent resource for “kid speak” is the multi-dialect book and CD “Gaschaint”. It’s available from several places, including:



    Sing her lots of songs in Irish.

    Actually, no, sing her 4 or 5 again and again.e.g. a lullaby – same one everynight.

    (my eldest grandchild lived with us for 7 years. We all spoke English most of the time, but I threw in Irish phrases..
    Whenever I started singing Caisleáin an Dromóir” (sp), she’d shout “no codladhs, no codladhs”!)


    Go raibh míle maith agaibh,

    Des Nolan

    The above book is a great source for language to use everyday.

    Also read the following book “A Guide for Parents Speaking Irish at Home”


    Note a person’s brain peeks at 2.5 years of age for processing languages, and children can easily learn, 2, 3 or 4 languages (and more) at a time. You can see the results of such on YouTube with 4 and 6 year olds speaking multiple languages before ever going to school.

    The more you read-up about this subject, the more success you will have. I believe the key is that you speak Irish as you would speak English to the child. Including reading stories, showing cartoons in Irish (TG4), etc. etc. There are more resources then ever before on this. You have a few choices here. Everyone speak Irish to the child and it will start speaking Irish. S/he will very quickly pick-up English when she goes to kindergarten school. Are if you want the child to be bilingual have one person always speak Irish, and the other always speak English. The child will likely used mixed language sentence to begin with, but will quickly refine that. Children that speak even more languages, often have grandparents that speak a third or fourth language to them, and then if there is a nanny with a different language, have her speak that to her. The child should get plenty of exposure to each.

    It’s a once off golden opportunity to have the child learn multiple languages without ever being terrified with the words “grammar, lesson plans, etc.” so definitely go far it. I would have done so if I was ever blessed with children.

    Of course, the biggest challenge will be encouraging them to maintain their language skills once they start going to school regular. As over time they can loose what they learnt without regular use. So plan to make speaking Irish, etc. a lifetime event.


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