Who are you?
We are a team of teachers, students and language enthusiasts who enjoy helping others learn the Irish language. Our slogan is Bígí Ag Caint! which translates as ‘Get Talking!’ Our first Irish language classes began in Washington DC in 2009, and they have continued to this day. In 2018 we started our series of online courses and expanded to include a social language community for all Irish learners, called Gaeltacht.net.
- Live, online Irish courses throughout the year,
- An online learning community, Gaeltacht.net,
- A Free Starter Irish class on the first Sunday of every month.
- Social events for learners, both in Washington DC and online.
What is Irish?
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.
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.
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.
How can I contact you?
We are always happy to answer queries by email or phone. Please get in contact via our Contact page.
I'm very interested - how do I get started?
We provide a free Starter Irish Class on the first Sunday of every month and we run 7-week Introductory courses throughout the year. If you already have some basic Irish skills, then you may like to join the A1 (Beginner), A2 (Elementary) or B1 (Intermediate) courses. Please use our Language Levels page to help you decide what class to join, or drop us a line. See our Language Journey page for an explanation of how you can go from complete beginner to fluency!
What do I need to participate in an online class?
For online classes you will need a device with a webcam and mic, and a reliable Internet connection. You may also like to use headphones.
Where are your Washington DC classes located?
Our DC classes take place at Chevy Chase Pavilion, 5335 Wisconsin Avenue, NW 20015. There is direct access into the Pavilion from the Friendship Heights metro station (Red Line). Parking is available on streets near to Wisconsin Av. and in the adjacent Chevy Chase Pavilion garage, with entrances off Wisconsin Avenue and Military Road. If you have difficulty finding our classes, please contact us.
Is there a way for me to practise Irish without attending classes?
Cinnte! We have developed the online learning community Gaeltacht.net (see below) specifically to support our students and all Irish learners around the world. We believe that a language community must be vibrant and innovative to grow. We post daily language tasks, provide feedback and facilitate regular conversation sessions each week for all language levels. Register for free and join us today!
Our Gaeltacht.net Language Community
What is Gaeltacht.net?
Gaeltacht.net is an online language community for Irish learners to connect, communicate and collaborate together. Network participation is encouraged in order to enable contextualised learning through social interaction. Members can connect with fellow learners, attend a free comhrá session, respond to a language task, join a group or post in the forum! This social network utilises a theoretically-informed design framework, IDIRLÍON (Interactive, Differentiated, Immersive Routine for Learning Irish in an Online Network), developed at National University of Ireland, Galway.
There are no requirements to participate on Gaeltacht.net, and we try to make the community accessible to all language levels. Each Monday we post a schedule of daily tasks for the week ahead, all based around a common theme. Each day focuses on a different language skill (see schedule below), with extra emphasis on conversation.
What is the goal of Gaeltacht.net?
The goal of Gaeltacht.net is to enable Irish learners to connect, communicate and collaborate in an online language community. Each week múinteoirí and cúntóirí will provide language tasks and engagement with learners. To help sustain this learning resource, members are asked to actively participate in tasks, and to contribute to the community through the sharing of knowledge and feedback, when possible.
What is the schedule for Tasc an Lae?
When the ‘Tasc an Lae’ course is available, the week’s theme and tasks are posted every Monday. Each day focuses on specific language skills. Members can participate as often as desired.
Tuesday: Conversation (Beginner A1, A2)
Thursday: Conversation (Intermediate B1+)
Saturday: Conversation (All levels)
Sunday: Reflection & Feedback.
How do I get help?
This is an online community for Irish learners and there are no teacher-led classes on Gaeltacht.net. However, volunteer teachers and cúntóirí will log in and interact with members.
While tasks are designed to be accessible for all language levels, you will of course require help from time to time. For assistance, please see the Resources page.
Is this for me?
A minimal level of Irish is necessary in order to engage in the daily language tasks. If you do not speak any Irish, you might like to consider an online course prior to joining. We find that members who take a more active role in the daily tasks tend to make the most language progress. That said, it is by no means essential that you complete every task that is posted – be sure to work at your own comfort level. You may find that you just like to do the written task, or attend the weekly comhrá sessions!
Please visit the Language Levels page for a more detailed description about each language level.
Can I become a Cúntóir?
If your Irish is at an advanced level (B2+), then please consider volunteering as a Cúntóir to help learners in the community. Cúntóirí are asked to log in for 20 minutes on Tues, Thur and Saturday to respond to member postings and to offer some feedback.
How can I support the Gaeltacht.net online community?
There are 3 main ways to help out at Gaeltacht.net:
1. Participate! Responding to fellow user comments and spreading the word on social media helps us to grow and sustain this community.
2. Complete a feedback form so together we can keep improving this resource.
3. Consider becoming a volunteer Cúntóir.
Where are my notification settings?
What are the community guidelines for Gaeltacht.net?
Please keep these 7 Guidelines in mind as you engage in the online community:
- We place a big emphasis on collaboration. Try to connect with members, use your Irish creatively and help foster the community’s growth!
- Regularly communicate and interact with other people in this group. When possible, help other members. Assistance is always welcome and no offence will be taken if you offer any language advice.
- For conversation sessions, please make an effort to speak with different members, of various levels, throughout your participation.
- If you have an idea or any feedback, please send it to us so that your idea can be incorporated into this resource!
- Try not to let concerns about your grammar slow you down. As is often said, “Is fearr Gaeilge briste, ná Béarla clíste/Broken Irish is better than clever English!”
- Show respect to the other members. No inappropriate postings, contacting, advertising, etc.
- The strength of the community is only as good as the effort we put into it. Mar a deir an seanfhocal, ní neart go cur le chéile!
Members deemed by the research team to be in violation of the community guidelines or ethos will be removed.