The Irish Language

An Ghaeilge

Why Learn Irish?

There are over 7 billion people in the world, and approximately 15% of them are learning a second language. People strive to acquire new languages not simply for work, cultural or historical reasons, but also because the benefits of bilingualism have long been recognized (see Jim Cummins, Colin Baker, Noam Chomsky, etc.).

For a minority language such as Irish (often called ‘Gaelic’ or ‘Gaeilge’), survival and strength relies on enthusiastic learners throughout the world connecting and conversing as they seek to progress their learning. As well as helping to secure the future of the language, Irish-learners also experience the added bonus of discovering new aspects of their own personality and culture. For students in Washington DC, learning Irish has proven to be a wonderful gateway into new friendships, experiences and interests related to Irish culture and beyond.

History & Current Status

Irish has the oldest written literature of all the surviving Celtic languages. As a language, Irish was first written over 2,000 years ago.

Irish was the language of the vast majority in Ireland until the early 19th century, when the effects of colonialism started taking their toll on the native tongue. The development of the country as an independent state during the early 20th century brought with it a cultural revival. The Irish language made major gains in the 20th century due largely to a combination of public, private and government efforts.

Currently, the Irish language is going through a major renaissance and more people are able to speak and write Irish today than have been able to for over 150 years. The great increase in learning Irish by children, as well as adults in non-Gaeltacht areas and abroad, is also very encouraging.