Memory Hacks for Learning Irish Gaelic

Learning Irish Gaelic demands a scheduleIf you’re interested in learning Irish Gaelic, the best thing you can do is to treat it like a habit. Because Gaelic languages are Celtic rather than from a Germanic root, the grammar and vocab of Irish differs from English more than, say, Spanish or German. While Irish is a rewarding language to learn, like with any pursuit, it does take commitment.

At the heart of any successful language learning is one thing: routine. Practicing the language regularly, even in small doses, leads to consistent progress. Here are 6 tips to help you incorporate learning Irish Gaelic into your everyday life.

1. Make Use of Habit Stacking

You can learn be learning Irish Gaelic while on the bus
Studying Irish on public transport is a good way to stay consistent in language learning.

There are a lot of things that we do every day out of necessity, including eating breakfast, travelling to work, or taking a coffee break. We don’t have to worry about forgetting to do them because they’re acts already engrained into our daily lives. In looking to learn a Gaelic language like Irish, we can use these repetitions to our advantage.

Called “habit stacking”, you can link these parts of our routine with an opportunity to practice Irish. For example, you can practice Irish sentences while on the treadmill at the gym or read an Irish text on the bus. A lunchbreak can be a great chance to review Irish grammar for 15 minutes. Why not go over new words you’ve learned while brushing your teeth at night? By associating Irish with habits that already exist, you’re more likely to be consistent in your quest of the language.

2. Create Daily Flash Cards

It may be an old school way to learn a Gaelic language, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. In keeping a set of vocab words or verb conjugations on the kitchen table, it is hard to walk by them without testing yourself. Even better, they’re a great companion with a cup of coffee in the morning!

The hard study will pay off!

3. Use Reminder Apps

As I child, I heard people from my grandparents’ generation saying that they used to tie a string around their index finger as a reminder to do something they might forget. I thought that was over the top, but admit to still writing on the back of my hand.

Nonetheless, technology has granted us better options. There are a variety of free “reminder apps” out there to make sure we don’t overlook something important like studying Irish. Check out examples like Nifty, Remember the Milk or Google Keep to help ensure that you keep a daily schedule.

4. Join an Irish Class

In-person class by Let’s Learn Irish in Washington DC

In learning Irish Gaelic—or any other language, for that matter—it’s important to have an “anchor.” The anchor is a commitment that is, to put it simply, difficult not to keep. It can be a weekly meeting to practice with another learner or a regular tutoring lesson. For many, their anchor is to take a class in Irish.

A class provides structured and consistent learning, as well as a means to repeatedly measure your progress. Having support from both the teacher and the other classmates is useful in ensuring that you’ll stick with the language and move towards fluency. It’s also a great way to find a community of people interested in learning Irish Gaelic.

5. Consume Irish Media Every Day

TG4 is the Irish language television network.

One of the best ways to make learning Irish a habit and to stay motivated is to hear the language daily. It can be as much as watching an entire movie or television show in Irish, or as simple as listening to an Irish language song. You can tune in to TG4, the Irish language television network, or put on an Irish language podcast while walking to work.

There’s something about hearing Irish every day that will make you more likely to practice it. It will keep you in an engaged mindset and ensure that you stay motivated to improve your comprehension of the language.

6. Make a Learning Schedule

Not to come across like a schoolmarm, but keeping a weekly learning schedule is a great life hack for expediting progress. You may want to start with designating one day and time per week to practice your Irish, or go all out with Grammar Mondays, Vocab Tuesdays, and Review Fridays. Alternatively, you can arrange a zoom call with another learner every week to have a joint practice session. The important thing is that you stay consistent by reserving a dedicated time to study Irish.

In learning Irish Gaelic, schedule your study time
Keeping a study schedule leads to steady progress.

One of the best reasons for learning Irish Gaelic is to be able to engage with Celtic culture on a more intimate basis. Whether you’re planning on taking a trip to Ireland or want to be able to understand Irish language songs and texts, learning Irish is a great way to connect yourself to the history and ethos of the island, and—as more people take up Irish again—its future. However, getting there takes a lot of small steps. Making Irish a habit in your life will ensure continual progress on your language learning journey.

Bígí páirteach!
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Follow on social media @LetsLearnIrish.

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