What To Do When You Can’t Find Time For Things That Matter

Finding Time for Language Learning

I recently sent out an email asking people what their biggest hurdles are when learning another language and before long my inbox was flooded with responses.

Of all the responses I got from people, you know what the most common problem was?


I half expected to mostly hear things like speaking, listening, learning vocab, overcoming fear, etc. but nope! The majority of people say that they just can’t find enough hours in the day to learn a foreign language.

Key word here: find.

What I picked up from the emails people sent me was that it’s not just about managing time – for many people the problem is finding it.

You know, it’s a tricky question to offer an answer for because we’re all in a very different boat but I want to ask you a fairly confronting question if you’re struggling to find time around your work schedule for the things you enjoy.


Is it worth it?

If you’re working a job that is so time and energy consuming that you can’t pursue the things that you love or enjoy in life then it’s time to step back and assess whether or not it’s all worth it.

A year ago I was working in Russia as a teacher for one of the top 5 wealthiest billionaires in the country. I had my own modern apartment fully paid, a personal driver at my beck and call, and paid business class flights where I went to parties that only celebrities and elite, mega wealthy people could attend.

I was earning a fortune – more money than I’ve ever earned before in my life.

Sounds fantastic when I tell it like that but you know what happened?

I quit.

I left mainly because the job was so time consuming that it prevented me from doing the things that I truly love. I went to Russia to learn Russian and experience Russian culture, and instead I was stuck indoors most of the time working a job that I had no passion for at all.

It was just a means to an end.

I found myself miserable and tired at work every day watching the clock for when I got to go home and do the stuff that was important to me.

I was making so much money there that if I stayed even just for a year or two, I could have saved enough to buy a nice block of land back in Australia in cash but I gave it all up because life is too short to be doing things I hate just to make money.

I’ve been in a lot of shitty, draining jobs over the years but I use this one as an example because there was such a big choice between wealth and happiness/fulfillment.

It wasn’t an easy choice either.


Every day of freedom is more precious than gold

These days I earn a fraction of what I made over there but I have a lot more freedom to pursue my passions and keep my sanity (on a shoestring budget).

Now I know everybody’s in a unique position and some people have mortgages, kids to feed and debts to pay.

Just getting up and walking out of a job isn’t an option for everyone (unfortunately many ‘life hacker’ types don’t get this) but why not at least take steps toward moving into something that frees up your life for the stuff that matters – even if it means a pay cut?

Instead of finding time, you’ll be managing time.

Language learning, like so many other things, is a huge undertaking so if it’s something that’s very important to you, don’t just give it the table scraps of whatever’s left of your free time.

In my experience, people getting themselves stuck in these situations comes down to them being slaves to stuff – worthless shit in our lives that we convince ourselves we need.

Just look at all the people falling over themselves to buy the Apple Watch at the moment – another worthless piece of trash that nobody needs! But it’s this kind of nonsense that gets us stuck in horrible jobs paying off garbage that we have no need for.

I believe that so many personal ills in this world – debt, lack of health, lack of time – boil down to people not being able to be content with satisfying needs over wants.

Eat because you need to (actual food that nourishes your body), not just because you want to.

Buy clothes because you need them, not because you want them.

Buy a car because you need something to get you from A to B, not because you want something flash and luxurious that’s going to massively devalue the second you buy it.


I know it’s a bit of a lesson in minimalist living and it takes time to adjust your mindset to but I’m walking proof of the improvements this mentality adjustment can make to a person’s life.

Stop trying to ration the tiny amounts of freedom you have for things that truly matter.

Don’t get to the end and realize you just spent 90% of your life doing things you hated, and regretting that the remaining 10% of your time wasn’t enough to pursue what you love.


This was written by .

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Learning The Irish Language? These Are The Resources You Need

Irish language books and resources

Seachtain na Gaeilge shona daoibh! :)

Happy Irish Language (Gaeilge) Week!

Every year in the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day there’s a festival that runs in Ireland and in many other pockets of the globe from the 1st to the 17th of March which is aimed at celebrating and raising awareness of the Irish language and culture.

As far as I’m aware, Irish is the only language in the world that gets 17 straight days of celebration. :)

From the Seachtain na Gaeilge website:

Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish Language Week) is an international Irish language festival and one of the biggest celebrations of our native language and culture that takes place each year in Ireland and in many other countries.

In my home town of Brisbane it coincides with the Brisbane Irish Festival – a week full of activities (music, film, parades and so on) for the Irish community and those of Irish descent.

This is one of a few reasons why this is my absolute favourite time of the year. :)


In 2012 I taught myself the Irish language while living on the other side of the world with limited resources.

I spent almost the entire year going from absolutely zero knowledge of the language to fluency (with a lot of frustrating hours of poor resources and not having anyone to practice with), and then I finally jetted off to the other side of the world to the Irish Gaeltacht in Donegal to put everything I learned to use.

Irish Language Resources

After all the hard work I put into learning Irish and documenting my progress here on this blog, it was the perfect climax for me to travel all the way to Ireland from Australia and be surrounded by the language for several weeks.

This video I made summarizes my time there in the Gaeltacht:

Since the end of 2012, I’ve been distracted with other languages (living in lots of different countries) but Irish is always very near and dear to my heart so I like to revisit it from time to time in order to keep it fresh in my mind until my next visit to Ireland.

If you’re just starting out with Irish, it can be a little difficult to know where to start and what the best resources out there are so the list below will be helpful to you.

If there’s anything you think you should be on this list, please share it in the comment section below.


The best books and resources for learning Irish

These are some of the best quality resources currently available for Irish (Gaeilge).

I’ve tried to highlight the dialects where possible because one really frustrating thing you’ll face when learning Irish is not being able to work out which dialect a resource is teaching if it isn’t stated clearly.

There are four provinces in IrelandMunster, Connacht, Ulster and Leinster. Leinster is the only province that no longer has a living dialect of its own.

All Irish dialects are, for the most part, very similar and mutually intelligible (speakers can understand each other) but for us learners it can be challenging at first – especially if you’ve only used a book that focuses on one specific dialect.

Some resources teach what’s called Caighdeán Oifigiúil (Official Standard) as well which is not a ‘natural’ dialect but rather prescribed pronunciation and spelling designed to bridge all the dialects.

You’ll still find that even though people may be using standard Irish, their own dialect’s accent is still there.

My advice is to not get too hung up on the differences early on and to use whatever’s at your disposal for now.

Irish pronunciation at first can be super tricky to get your head around. If you see a word that you can’t pronounce, I recommend Forvo (multi-dialect) and Abair.ie (Connemara and Ulster).


Duolingo IrishDuolingo: Irish

I have to list this first as I think it’s great, it’s completely free and Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning platforms out there.

The Irish version was released not too long ago and I’ve been using it as a fun way to refresh my Irish since.

My only issue with Duolingo in general is that it’s not a tool for improving your conversation or listening skills. It will give you a great foundation in the language without boring you to tears but to become a better speaker you definitely need to use it in conjunction with other things (especially practice with people!).

For speaking practice I would ordinarily recommend a service like italki which connects you with native speaker teachers and tutors but unfortunately it currently only has 1 Irish teacher available (hopefully native Irish speakers read this and sign up to fill the demand).

Another option I’ve found useful is the GaelSkype group on Facebook which was set up to connect learners on Skype.


Gaeilge Gan Stró (Beginner, Lower Intermediate, Grammar)

Dialect: Multi

This is by far the best resource for Irish ever made in my opinion.

I’ve already reviewed this in detail before (read it here or watch the video below) along with the web version of the book called Ranganna.com (I prefer the book but the website has some video as well).

The books cover all dialects of Irish and are some of the best quality language books (including the audio) I’ve ever used.

If there’s one thing on this list that you get, make it this.


Pimsleur Irish

Dialect: Munster

I recently reviewed the Pimsleur series here.

It’s a purely audio-based course that emphasizes speaking and periodic, timed recall of what you learned earlier.

The Irish edition is a “compact” edition which means its shorter than many of their other titles but it’s great as a foundation builder for learning Irish.


Bitesize IrishBitesize Irish Gaelic

Dialect: Munster

A brilliant web resource for learning Munster Irish that breaks the language down into small, very simplified lessons.

I hung out with Eoin a while back in Ireland and made use of Bitesize Irish myself when I started learning. He really knows his stuff and this is the only interactive site of its kind for Irish (especially useful for people interested in the Munster dialect).

Eoin also put together a downloadable beginner course called Learn Irish With Eoin.


Speak Irish, Complete Irish and Irish Grammar

Dialect: Multi

Three separate books that are all part of the Teach Yourself series (each with a different focus).

Speak Irish is a purely audio course (along the same lines as but not the same as Pimsleur). Irish Grammar will suit anyone looking to improve reading and writing skills, or to get a better understanding of the nitty gritty of Irish sentence structure. Complete Irish is the best of both worlds.

There is an older version for Irish by Teach Yourself which focuses on Munster Irish and has dialogue from West Cork speakers but I’m not sure if it’s still being made (real shame if it’s not).


Oideas GaelEnjoy Irish from Oideas Gael

Dialect: Ulster

Oideas Gael is the adult immersion school in Gleann Cholm Cille where I went to practice my Irish (see the video above).

They produced this book (with audio) which I think is absolutely outstanding (the design, content and quality of the audio) and a must-have starting point for anyone wanting to focus on Ulster Irish especially.


Colloquial Irish

Dialect: Connemara

The Colloquial series (like Teach Yourself) has been around for a long time, covers many languages and is really hit-and-miss in terms of quality.

Some of them are great and some of them aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

Colloquial Irish is one of the better books in the Colloquial series. As a resource for quality Connemara dialogues, this is one of the best I’ve used.


Irish On Your Own by Eamon Donaill

Dialect: Ulster

Irish On Your Own is a highly practical, topic-based book with audio in the Ulster dialect.

Instead of focusing on grammar explanations, each chapter/unit introduces a practical topic and then gives you a load of phrases and expressions you can use to communicate about it.

The audio’s a bit hard to keep up with though but the content is still great (if you can handle pausing and rewinding a lot to catch what’s being said). It’s a very handy resource for new Ulster dialect learners.


Turas Teanga

Dialect: Multi

Turas Teanga is perfect for anyone with a bit of a foundation in Irish already.

Like Gaeilge Gan Stró and An Ghaeilge Bheo (see below) this is one of the best resources around in my opinion – high quality material, full of engaging activities and best of all, An Grá Faoi Ghlas. :)

An Grá Faoi Ghlas is like a Big Brother spoof where a bunch of a random people are put in a house and interact with each other. The best part is, they all speak different dialects (so you get to hear a range of different accents) and the actors speak at an Elementary – Lower Intermediate level so it’s very easy to keep up with after you’ve covered the basics of Irish.

You can actually buy the video series but somebody’s uploaded them to YouTube anyway so you can check it out. This is the first episode (the guy from Cork is my favourite :)):


Learning Irish by Micheal O’Siadhail

Dialect: Connemara

I was a little bit reluctant to post this one admittedly due to it being a fairly dense coursework book (more of a typical grammar + exercise book) but it’s good quality and quite comprehensive so it may suit some learners.

The book itself is very popular (and the content is excellent) but I personally find coursework material like this to be too tedious when starting out with a new language.

If you enjoy detailed grammar study then I recommend it.


Buntús Cainte

Dialect: Standard

Buntus Cainte’s a three-volume series that’s as old as the hills and yet still considered by many as one of the best book series ever made for learning Irish.

I’m not sure exactly what their affiliation with Buntus Cainte is but there’s a site called TalkIrish.com that offers Buntus Cainte as a downloadable MP3 course and an ‘online interactive course’ as well.


Speaking Irish – An Ghaeilge Bheo – Take Your Language Skills Beyond Basics

Dialect: Multi

For anyone who’s already done some Irish and past the easy stuff already, An Ghaeilge Bheo is one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

It’s jam-packed full of very high quality listening material with transcripts in all dialects and covers a range of interesting topics. For each natural dialogue, the book goes into detail exploring and examining the unique vocabulary, grammar and expressions used by people from different parts of Ireland.

If you’re a serious learner of Irish, you must own this.


In addition to all these I strongly recommend watching TG4 regularly, Ireland’s Irish language television station for listening comprehension practice.

If there’s a book or resource that should be here but isn’t let us know in the comment section below.


Finally, here’s some ear candy to get you in the mood for some Irish study: :) 


This was written by .

Did you find this interesting, useful or encouraging? A quick share on Facebook or Twitter will make my day! Thanks. :)

Comments: If you’ve got something you’d like to add to this or some constructive criticism you can do that at the bottom of this page. Just please be respectful. Any abusive or nonsensical comments will be deleted.

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