Currently I am listening Irish every evening when I come back home from work, using my cell phone as mp3 player. This way I get used to sounds, expressions and vocabulary quite easily. I combine this with flashcards. I would say my level of Irish has never been so good (even though it is very low yet). I do not memorise any rules, I like learning a language as children do. Aren’t they the best language learners?
Some people ask me why am I learning Irish instead of, say, German or Chinese. In fact, I also want to learn German and Chinese, but these languages do not rule out Irish. In my opinion a language is not just something to add to your CV, it is a fascinating way to see the world through the eyes of another culture.
Learning a language is like having a friend. I do not have friends just because they can get me a better job. From time to time, having a friend can be helpful to find a job, but this is not the main reason we have friends. In fact, people who just want to have friends for profit, use to have no friends at all. The same applies to a language.
Finding media in Irish is not quite easy (or, at least, not as easy as finding media in German or some other languages). However, you can find a lot of tv programs in Irish language here:
I visit TG4 website from time to time, and I get motivated, as I want to understand what is going on.
Is brea liom an teanga seo (I love this language). It is very difficult, but it is really worth it. As I have to write a couple of sentences every day, I am getting more used to it, and I feel more confident. It is amazing how helpful it is just using a bit a day!
Here are the “rules” for the fifth level:
Send one text (or write a comment on a blog) a day for twenty five days in a row, allowing three exceptions, by the end of 2008.
(at the moment I have already used two days out of three, so I just have one left.)
I wanted to reach this by the 1st of September, but for some reason I didn’t do well for three of months. Then, some weeks ago my friend Daithí asked me something in Irish, and I remembered I should be doing better. So I started again… and now I have finally reached the sub-goal of sending a text for twelve days in a row (allowing one exception)!
I have extended the requirement about texts, and now I allow myself to write comments on blogs as well (blogs in Irish, of course).
So, here are the “rules” for the fourth level:
Send one text (or write a comment on a blog) a day for eighteen days in a row, allowing two exceptions, by the end of 2008.
Ní raibh sé éasca, ach rinne mé é! (It wasn’t easy, but I did it!)
I am very motivated since I set up these funny levels. It takes me half an hour to send a text, as I have to check many things (words, grammar), but it is interesting, and it’s very nice to see that my friends reply in Irish too.
So, here are my “rules” to reach my third level:
send one text a day for
ten twelve days in a row by 1st September, allowing one exception.
I have got through my small challenge: I motivated myself to find time in my busy life to send a text a day in Irish for four days in a row. It was not easy, as, even if it might seem funny for somebody who is fluent in Irish, I spent more than half an hour to learn enough to send each text (and saying what I wanted to say!).
Now lets go to level 2, which is the same, but for seven days in a row. Deadline: 15th August.
Tá mé iontach sona!
Some three weeks ago I commited myself to send a text a day for seven days in a row by the end of June to give myself the “level 1”. Now, at the end of June, I see this didn’t work very well.
I don’t consider this a failure, as I have learnt another way not to motivate myself enough to keep using Irish. And learning what does not work is as important as learning what does work. So I will try something different (because as everybody knows, if we keep doing the same things, usually we will keep getting the same results).
So, as “R” in “smartest” stands for “reprogrammable”, I will reprogram my goal to improve it. Here is the new short-term goal:
send one text a day for four days in a row by the 15th of July. If I succeed, I will give myself the “level 1” in this goal.
Then, when I succeed with this easier goal, I will go for the next step. I really need to find space in my busy life to start using this language!
I spent the weekend in Isle of Man, and I have discovered some aspects of the island’s language: Manx. I have also bought some books of Manx language at the Manx museum. I don’t have a direct interest in the Manx language (though it is very interesting), as I want to focus on Irish, but I am indirectly interested, as it is quite similar.
I would say that Manx is to Irish as Portuguese is to Spanish, but having a very different spelling.
I already knew about the existence of Manx, but having a “direct” contact with it, and discovering that I could understand some words to get the general picture of a conversation was encouraging and motivating. I really hope that Manx people succeed in recovering their beautiful language.
Five days ago I said I was going to text once a day an Irish speaker friend, and meet once a week. It is being hard, because I have forgot three important things that are essential when designing goals:
1) The goal has to have a deadline, an expiration date.
2) The success conditions have to be clear and objective.
3) When a goal is challenging or long-term (as this one) it has to be split into smaller, easy achievable goals
So, it is not enough to commit to text once a day, as psychologycally it would be exhaustive: I would do it the first days, but as it has no expiration date, my mind would put the expiration date very soon.
So here is the short-term goal:
send one text a day for seven days in a row by the end of June, and meet once an Irish speaking friend to (try to) chat in Irish. If I succeed, I will give myself the “level 1” in this goal.
and the success conditions + deadline:
I will consider I have succeeded in the overall goal if before 2010 I am able to chat in Irish as well as I speak now in Portuguese, which means that, even if I don’t speak perfectly, another speaker can be able to speak with me comfortably enough to keep speaking in Irish after one hour.
Ok, I recognise it: I am an eternal beginner in Irish. But I want to change this. It is difficult to learn Irish, because English is so used here in Dublin that nobody has actually the need to speak the national language (a “problem” I don’t think I would have in Germany, France, Russia, Spain, etc). Everything you can find in Irish, you find it in English as well.
So you have to make an extra effort to learn the language (apart the fact that it is quite different than the other languages I know), an effort you don’t have to do in other countries!
I am ok with that. So, I think I will start meeting friends who speak good Irish, hoping they will have patience enough. I commit myself to text once a day an Irish speaker friend and meet once a week.
So, when will I know I achieved this goal? that’s what I will think for the next entry ;) (suggestions are welcome).