Want to learn or improve your Irish language skills but classes are beyond your reach?
As part of our Irish language and music month at IrishCentral, we have compiled a list of easy ways you can learn Ireland's official language, Gaeilge, and some of the measures you can use to integrate the language into your life!
Check your local library for Irish language learning books
If living outside of Ireland you might think twice, but there are usually some books in major libraries on learning Irish.
Order Irish language learning books online
Regardless of the subject matter, books are usually people's first port of call when trying to learn something new, and Irish is no different. Here are some books if you're interested in learning the Irish language:
Speak Irish Now - book and YouTube learning
With over 200 short and powerful lessons, Speak Irish Now will teach you the building blocks of Irish and can be used for both self-study and group study.
The book provides clear and friendly explanations with focused lessons to encourage regular study, even if you have little time.
What's great about this course is it provides phonetic spellings, encouraging learners to speak Irish correctly. There are also two glossaries (Irish to English and English to Irish).
Couple that with the fact that they have a free YouTube channel with videos supporting the course (see more in our YouTube section below) and you have an unbeatable combination for learning.
Turas Teanga - Book and CD: A multimedia course for learning Irish
Although a bit dated, this multimedia course is geared towards people who have some past experience speaking the Irish language. Accompanied by three CDs, Turas Teanga consists of 20 units, each representing material contained in a single program.
Pimsleur Irish Quick and Simple Course
The Pimsleur language learning system is an audio-based course that presents phrases in the target language first, and then in your mother tongue for you to translate into that language.
This Pimsleur Irish Quick & Simple course includes eight, 30-minute Irish language instruction lessons of audio-only effective language learning with real-life spoken practice sessions.
Each lesson provides spoken language practice, with an introductory conversation, and new vocabulary and structures.
It doesn't come with an accompanying text as the Pimsleur theory suggests learners should read the language until they know how it sounds.
Irish Grammar You Really Need to Know: A Practical Course
For intermediates and above, this book is a great resource to improve your Irish grammar with all grammatical concepts simply explained and illustrated with plenty of examples.
Online Irish language learning courses
Advances in technology and the onset of social media has made connecting with like-minded people easier than ever before and utilizing it for Gaeilge is easy.
Fluent in 3 Months
I'm sure plenty can identify with Irish author Benny Lewis in his struggles to learn languages in school.
His frustration with conventional methods led him to take a different approach in his 20s to language learning, as described in his book, "Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World. "
Bitesize Irish offer online Irish language courses with a free 21-day trial to get you started Irish for Beginners course,
You'll instantly receive Bitesize Irish's ebook, The Irish Language — Your Key to Gaelic Ireland, plus weekly advice in their newsletter.
Learn Irish online through text and video and subscribers will get access to language assistance and be able to connect with other members on their private member's only group.
The team also have quite an extensive library of podcasts available for you to listen to on the go which are completely free to download on Spotify, Stitcher, or iTunes or simply listen via their website.
Clilstore is a collection of content and language integrated learning (CLIL) teaching materials that link videos and their text with suitable online dictionaries.
CLIL is a teaching concept by which learners focus on a subject already familiar to them, such as a hobby, through the medium of the second language. They essentially acquire language skills while dealing with a topic they are comfortable with.
Clilstore currently offers nearly 150 units in Irish over a range of abilities from teaching absolute beginners the words to the Irish national anthem to radio scripts for learners nearing fluency. Each unit contains a video where the pronunciation can be heard, a copy of the audio’s text, and the ability to click on a word within this text to search among the compiled online dictionaries. Learners have easy access to a means of using their reading and listening skills and a well-developed dictionary tool in the absence of a teacher.
Online University Courses
Dublin City University is targeting the global diaspora and new immigrants with its first online-only course teaching the Irish language.
The “Irish 101” course, developed by DCU, will teach students greetings, blessings and curses in Irish, along with the meaning of Irish names, mythology, and other topics.
Participants will be able to progress from beginner to advanced courses and can, if they wish, complete a full degree in Irish language and culture online.
It is being delivered in conjunction with FutureLearn, a social learning platform with access to more than seven million learners globally and forms part of a wider “Fáilte ar Líne” (“Welcome Online”) initiative on Irish language and culture that has been developed by DCU.
Read More: Here's how to say "Hello!" in Irish
Duolingo is the perfect way to learn Irish on the go and for free. Whether you are commuting to work are relaxing at home, Duolingo lets you learn Irish from the palm of your hand.
This free language learning phone app selected by Apple as iPhone App of the Year 2013, by Google as Best of the Best for Android in 2013 and 2014, and currently has nearly 950,000 active users for the Irish language.
Studies even claim that an average of 34 hours of Duolingo is equivalent to a full university semester of language education.
Irish language media channels
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta (RnaG) is Ireland's main Irish language radio station that is available to listen to live. The service broadcasts a wide range of news and current affairs programs, magazine programs, music programs of all kinds, sports and entertainment.
TG4 is an Irelands dedicated Irish language TV channel and almost all of its programs are in Irish. It is a fantastic way to watch, listen, and learn the Irish language being spoken fluently and with its English subtitles, is a great way to nurture your Irish language skills.
If you live outside Ireland, its on-demand online service, TG4 Player, will get the channel to you. TG4 has established itself as the producer of some excellent programs over the years, in particular, some high-end documentaries, excellent sports coverage and of course, it's soap opera Ros na Rún.
Pop music will love Raidió Rí Rá – which mixes chart music with small easily understandable bits of entertainment news.
Dublin Irish community radio station, Raidió na Life is also more accessible for the Irish language learner as many of its volunteers are learners themselves. It also plays the most diverse music selection in Dublin with its highly contrasting shows and is well worth a listen for this alone.
Let's face it, we all overindulge in our social media usage so why not turn it to some good use!
Switch Facebook and Twitter to Irish
Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to switch to "Gailege" in your profile settings. While it may be difficult to grasp the new terminology early on, once you understand what a word means you are never going to forget it.
This is a great way to sharpen your skills as it won't even feel like you're in learning mode and soon you'll be able to navigate these platforms in Irish with ease.
The Facebook group “Gaeilge Amháin” (Irish Only) has more than 13,000 members who share funny videos, pictures, and stories in Irish.
The group is strict on its Irish-language-only policy, but you will reap the rewards if you stick to the rules.
Its members are happy to answer your questions, guide you through the learning experience, and act as a fantastic support group.
Over on Twitter, check out @IrishLanguage for your daily "word of the day" Irish tweets to game your brain ticking over and other resources. They are the official Twitter account for Transparent Language.
Following and engaging in Irish with Irish speakers is also a useful idea. A full list of the language users was compiled by the American Irish-language tech whiz Kevin Scannell and can be found here.
Maitiú Ó Coimín (@maitiuocoimin) and Derek O'Brien (@DirkVanBryn), provide witty, entertaining tweets and prove that Irish is a vibrant, creative language. Logainm.ie (@logainm_ie) also provides great insight into Irish place names.
Switch the language of your computer to Irish
Just like Facebook and Twitter, computer software systems Chrome, Firefox, Open Office, Ubuntu, and many more interfaces are available as Gaeilge so why not give it a go!?
Other Handy Resources
Forvo is the largest pronunciation guide in the world and an invaluable resource to find find out how any Irish word is pronounced. Just type the word you’re looking for into the search bar in Irish and you'll be able to hear how the word is pronounced, as well as the meaning of the word and how it can be used in a phrase.
Want to instantly translate long text to audio? Then Abair.ie is the answer. This voice synthesizer will do that for you in the Tír Conaill accent and can help train you in your pronunciation.
Focloir.ie is the best online Irish-English dictionary and their app is available free of charge for both Apple and Android devices.
Focal.ie is also a dictionary but more technical in nature giving declensions and plurals for a lot of words for intermediate and higher-level learners.
For advanced learners, Gramadach na Gaeilge offers an in-depth look at Irish grammar.
YouTube is another great free resource to help improve your Irish language.
As mentioned above, the folks that brought you the Speak Irish Now, Patricia Delia Pugnier and Brian Lee Pugnier, supplement their book with a YouTube channel consisting of 14 video lessons.
Or for those looking for some excellent introductory videos look no further than Dane Thyghe's YouTube channel for some Irish language words and conversational phrases, here's a sampler.
Bitesize Irish also offer short "bitesize" lessons on their YouTube channel
Start your own groups!
While we can read, learn, and listen to all the books and audio files in the world, nothing surpasses genuine interaction with other Irish language speakers. No matter where you live, there's bound to be an Irish community so why not start your own group or try and speak Irish with your friends and family?
Vlog about it and post about it - you might even inspire more people to do the same! All you need is a smartphone and press record!
You can also use MeetUp.com or other social networking sites to see if there are other interested Irish learners in your vicinity.
*Originally published in 2019, updated in August 2020.
How do you learn the Irish language? Have you used any of the resources outlined above? How did you find them? We'd love to know so let us know in the comments below!