Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Of Language Study

I have always taken the view that if you want to understand the worldview, and therefore the culture of a country or people, you need to learn their language.  "Language is also immensely important on an ideological level because it can fundamentally alter a person's view of the world, or at least how to express that view." (1) And this happens to be the reason I am a forever student of the Irish language.  It is part of my spiritual regime since it helps me be close to my deities, and the Irish worldview.  

I have a myriad of self teaching books, CDs, and yes even tapes (aha, I'm OLD).  Over the years I've tried different methods to help me retain the knowledge I've gained studying the language, now I'm going to pass on some of the great places I've learned it, or some of the sites I've used to help me keep it in mind.

Of course nothing beats a conversation with an Irish speaker, or at least a teacher who can teach you face to face, but that is not always possible. 


1. Progress in Irish: A Graded Course for Beginners.  This is one of the most famous books for learners of Irish.  It is tiny and compact but it makes for a good start.  It deals mostly with vocabulary and small sentences and builds on that, with exercises.  It keeps grammar to minimum and in some cases it is quite absent.  You can find the answer key to the exercises in the book here (Progress in Irish Answer Key) See Philo-Celtic Society below for mp3 files of the vocabulary and sentences in this book.

2. Buntús Cainte: The First Steps in Spoken Irish.  This is another famous set of books (there are three parts to this series) It comes with CDs so that you can listen to a native speaker say the words.  Again there is no grammar here and it depends on conversation to teach you the language.  

3. Learning Irish.  A book that comes with CDs for pronunciation.  It does have some grammar like the Progress in Irish book, but again it mainly depends on the CDs and the exercises to help you get to where you are going.

4. Tús Maith.  This is a course specifically aimed at the adult learner, it is a series of three binders with exercises, and CDs.  It depends on conversations mostly with almost no grammar, but it does have a lot of trivial information on the Irish culture and different sites in Ireland. You can find it on Litríocht.

5. Complete Irish: A Teach Yourself Guide. This book comes with CDs and it uses real live situations to teach you Irish.

6. Collins Easy Learning Irish Grammar.  This is a great book to use if you are studying alone or as part of a course.  Very easy to use. 

7. Irish Grammar: A Basic Handbook.  This is the book that most courses will recommend when it comes to grammar.  

8. Essential Irish Grammar.  This is best used with the book Complete Irish: A Teach Yourself Guide

9. Briathra Na Gaeilge: Regular and Irregular Verbs.  A tiny booklet but gives you a very hand guide to Irish Verbs

10. Leabhar Mór Briathra Na Gaeilge: The Great Irish Verb Book.  A great resource for Irish Verbs and an expansion on the above.  It also gives the verbs from the stand point of all the dialects and Standard Irish. 

11. Collins Easy Learning Irish Verbs.  It  is the ideal resource for independent study or as part of a course. It includes over 100 full verb tables and a comprehensive index of more than 3000 verbs.

12. Collins Easy Learning Irish Dictionary. Everyone needs a good one!


1. The Philo-Celtic Society.  These people have classes that run all year long online using yahoo groups.  They use Progress in Irish and Buntús Cainte.  

2. An Foclóir Beag.  This is a great place to check your verb conjugation.

3. Gramadach na Gaeilge.  This is a great site for grammar study.

4. Abair.  This is a great site to put in words that you don't know how to say and it will synthesize the phonetics for you and provide you with a recording.

5. StudyBlue.  This is a site I use to make flashcards and then quiz myself on Irish Vocabulary.

I hope these things help you the way they help me everyday.  Have fun!

Works cited:

(1) Henderson, Jon C. The Atlantic Iron Age: Settlement and Identity in the First Millennium BCE.  Routledge: New York.  2007 p.90

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