How Learning Irish Will Improve Your Love Life…

This is the best place to learn Irish onlineI’ve heard it. You’ve heard it. And so has anyone who told their friends that they’re going to spend time learning Irish online with a course on the web. Um…doesn’t everyone speak English in Ireland?

Well, that is mostly true (even if English is a second language for some in the Gaeltacht). Still, 1). Your naysaying hypothetical friends that are probably spending their free time watching “Greatest Fails” on Youtube, and 2). That’s a pretty narrow view of language learning. Becoming bilingual is less about being able to ask where the toilet is and more about, well, being awesome. And now that we’re all locked down in our homes and looking for stuff to do, taking time for an online course seems a lot more possible. But let’s start with what it looks like when you don’t know a language.

Picture it: Iceland, 2014. I’m going out on the town with an attractive female friend that I wouldn’t mind being more than friends with. (Quick academic statistic: 75% of Icelanders under the age of 35 are stunning.) We’re meeting a group of her old classmates, all Icelandic. This is my second year on the island, and all of my intention of learning Icelandic has fallen through because, hey, “Doesn’t everyone speak English in Iceland?”

At first, her classmates are polite and try to keep the conversations in English. That alone makes me feel a bit awkward, me being the only person out of a group of ten that they are doing it for. And then it gets more uncomfortable when the night slips on, more drinks are drank, and inevitably revert to their native tongue. What can I do but stare at the ceiling and fake a polite smile? And then it gets truly unbearable when one of the guys starts putting moves on the girl I came with, all in Icelandic, knowing full well that there was nothing I could do to counter it. Needless to say that he ended up seeing a lot more of her than I did (especially that night).

So, still hesitant about that online course?

only call me if you're learning Irish onlineBut let me tell you a happier story. Picture it: Germany, 2017. My mother wanted to visit the small German town in Swabia where her father was born and raised. I agreed to take my parents there (on their dime, of course—no travel agent works for free). Despite being the only tourists that town may have ever had, we probably could have gotten by on English alone. Still, having learned German five years before entirely changed the experience (despite, as the Germans loved to point out, how imperfect my language skills were). The Swabians are known for being standoffish until they are comfortable with you, but they were buying us drinks, taking us to the best traditional restaurants, and recounting the town’s history whenever they could. We even ended up eating cow stomach. That’s not the type of thing that happens to monolinguists.

Getting to know a place, to really know it (more than a khaki shorts-wearing tourist), involves learning the language as well. Ireland is no different. From place names to speech patterns in English, the Irish language is integrated into the nation’s history and identity. The first thing the British did when colonizing the island was to attempt to kill the language, and therefore with it Ireland’s native culture. Part of the work of Ireland finding its place in the world again is heavily steeped in reviving Irish. From having the craic to chasing cailíní, if you want to understand Ireland you’re going to have to do it as Gaeilge. And these days of hyper-connection make it even more possible to grow your ‘grá don Ghaeilge’

Learning Irish Online will make you a better loverIf you’re ready to get started on your journey to becoming a fluent Irish-speaking charm machine, you’re in luck. When it comes to learning Irish online there’s some great resources out there. Check out LetsLearnIrish.com for comprehensive-yet-fun online courses beginning in March. They offer a Free Irish Workshop on the first Sunday of every month if you want to dip your toe in and see what they’re all about. There’s also weekly comhrá sessions, where fellow learners get to chat and connect with each other. In the end, there’s more ways to learn with an online Irish course than reasons not to do it. Basically, learning Irish online will improve your love life. And it will only make you sexier.

And hey, in case you fall in love with a fellow Irish learner online this Valentine’s Day, here’s a quick academic fact: bilingual babies are 15% cuter.

In addition to secretly teaching neighbors’ dogs to respond in different languages, Ryan Dennis writes the monthly column The Milk House for the international farming community. He is the author of the literary farming novel The Beasts They Turned Away, published by Epoque Press.

Join the online Irish community for cúrsaí, comhrá & ceardlanna, and follow along on social media @LetsLearnIrish – beidh fáilte romhat!

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