Relearning Irish/Preparing for an exam.

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    A chairde,

    long time reader here, first time poster.

    I’ve recently begun preparing for the B2 TEG certificate in Gaeilge as I require it in order to study to be a primary school teacher (I did pass Irish in 6th year so I don’t meet their requirements). I’ve had a love/hate affair with Irish over the years but ever since leaving school the hate has disappeared.

    I used to take a night class once a week for a year so I’m alright conversationally, my grammar would be quite weak but I manage to get by. And having to learn Polish now has really reassured me that Irish isn’t that bad! Past/present/future, I can communicate basic sentences easily, it’s higher concepts that I struggle a lot with.

    My issues are that I currently live and work in Poland and will be doing so for another year. Any other Irish I know here don’t speak Irish so having no one to practice with is a bit annoying.

    I’m back for a month in the summer so I’m going to spend a week in Corca Dhuibhne on their B1 intermediate course. It’s as close as I can get to total immersion so I’m hoping throwing myself in the deep end will give me a bit of a boost. I use Duolingo as my lazy man’s way as well, just to refresh my brain when I’m tired after a long day at work.

    My friends have been quite supportive as well, I got a couple of surprise packages in the post from those finished their studies at college or had books left over. One was Teach Yourself Irish which seems to take quite a hefty approach with grammar but I’m going to work through it. The other is Learning Irish (still en route at the time of writing). My plan at the moment is to work through both books, drill the grammar into my head (it works for me at the moment learning Polish).

    That’s my plan and background so far, please feel free to comment and advise as you can 🙂

    Go raibh míle maith agaibh.


    A Raparree, a chara:

    I found that making opportunities to practice speaking and listening for understanding were the most challenging in an environment devoid of other speakers. There are so many resources online for listening, though. My personal favorite is Ráidío na Gaeltachta, which you can stream in realtime, and listen to podcasts of previous programs (including downloading and listening to them later, on the road, etc.). I solved the speaking challenge by slowly building a community of co-learners around me, so we now have classes and conversation circles and we are wonderfully fortunate to live within reach of Daltaí na Gaeilge events, which I go to whenever I can. I understand that you haven’t found in-person resources in Poland yet. If you had more time there I bet you could discover or create that.

    Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat!

    Héilics Órbhuí

    Seáinín’s advice is good. I can suggest a couple of other things. One is to watch episodes of dramatic TV such as Ros na Rún. I find this to be more challenging than listening to podcasts, which tend to be relatively easy to understand (for me), as there seems to be more attention to annunciation than is usually contained in everyday speech. Ros na Rún is an abundant source of what I would say is very close if not identical to the way people actually talk in the Gaeltacht (from my limited experience being there), which is to say they talk like most native speakers of a language do: quickly and often indistinctly. There are other shows out there, especially if you want another dialect (Ros na Rún is fairly heavy on the Conamara Irish, although there are speakers from other regions). The show CU Burn is great for Ulster Irish. You can find bits of both these shows on Youtube (a lot of full episodes), and you can watch plenty of full episodes of Ros na Rún on the tg4 website.
    An exercise that is worth doing, when you understand what you’re hearing is to repeat everything you hear as you hear it, trying to keep up with the flow of the dialog. This might be hard (unless you’re quite good). This really helps with the raw muscle memory and fluency of your actual mouth. The second exercise which helps with your memory and your actual interpretive skills is to listen to a short section of dialog and then pause it and try to repeat as much as you can from memory. This is probably going to be a good deal harder, even though it might sound relatively easy. If you can do both of these things without effort, you’re probably quite good.
    Another thing to do is to work on translating stuff from English to Irish. I find this quite a bit harder than translating from Irish to English. Translating everyday speech (things you hear people say in real life, things you want to say) is usually a bit easier in terms of vocabulary but usually highlights where you might be lacking in knowledge of word usage, subtle things, and idioms. Translating more official things like news stories will usually turn up a bunch of gaps in vocabulary for things you may not ordinarily talk about anyways but are probably good to know.

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