Irish Gaeilge Video Update

Irish Gaeilge Video Update

UPDATE: I successfully completed my learn Irish mission by becoming fluent in 9 months. I ended my mission with an amazing trip to the Irish Gaeltacht.

Check it out here.

G’day all!

No post today. Just a video of my Irish language progress.

I’ve been a bit quiet here the last week or so. Things have been really hectic with my work and I’m moving house at the moment, but hopefully I’ll start to get more time to devote to improving and maintaining this site in the coming weeks.

It’s great to see so many people regularly checking back here! Thanks to those of you who subscribed to the RSS feed or bookmarked this site to keep coming back.

I announced my intention to learn Irish from absolutely no prior knowledge on December 15th 2011 (although thanks to Christmas and work the first month was quite slow and unproductive).

This video shows roughly where I’m at now (speaking ability).

As I said before, this is the slowest progress I’ve ever made and I’ve only had three short conversations with other people so far so I’m definitely in need of more practice as you can see.

Are you a native Irish speaker? Your criticism’s welcome in the comment section below!

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Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Icelandic


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That's great! How did you find a teacher to help you over Skype. I really want to learn Gaeilge, but I can't find anyone in my area who can teach me or practice with me.


Hi Lori.

I actually found a teacher on Twitter by accident. I just mentioned that I was looking for a teacher (used the #gaeilge tag) and a teacher replied to me.

Other than that, I also sent out a few emails to schools in the Gaeltacht and contacted a few contributors to and asked for help. Several of them got back to me offering to help.

There are quite a few teachers for Gaeilge online but you just have to be persistent.


An-mhaith!! Very impressed. Your next thing to work on should be An Chopail (Copula).
So "Tá sé buachaill" should be "Is buachaill é" (Just an example - you didn't actually say that!)



I still get a little confused as to how to properly use "Is é" and "Tá sé". Doesn't "Is é" signify something permanent?


"Is é" is usually heard as Shah/Sha and is abbreviated 's é where the I gets cut off of "Is". It's sort of like "yeah, it is." At least that's how I think of it. And yes, it's a permanent form. Think of "Tá an madre ag rith" versus "Is madre é" ... "The dog is running/runs" versus "It/he is a dog". Is the dog ever going to be something else, like one day it will wake up and be a cat? Nope. It's always going to be a dog, hence permenant. But the thing the dog is doing, won't be done forever, right?

Benny Lewis

Great job! Excellent work for someone not learning in the country! Others should take great inspiration from you for distance learning.

Here is some constructive criticism (since you asked for it) so that your next video is even better:
* An teanga na hÉireann - In genitive phrases like this "the", or linking genitive "na" is never repeated twice. So something like "the hat of the man" can only be "hata an fhir" - only the second "the" is ever said/written. Takes some getting used to.
* Ar Skype - pronounce this like English "air", since the way you said it sounds like ár (our)
* Ansin is one of the few exceptions to Irish syllable stress consistency and should be accented on the SECOND syllable. An-SIN.
* TG4 MUST be called "T.G. ceathair" - in Ireland even someone with absolutely the worst Irish will still say this number as ceathair when discussing the station and not "T.G. four".
* If you want to use an English word, throw in "-áil" at the end. This is a comical thing many of us do when we can't find the word at that moment. So say "improvement-áil". Academics will despise such a suggestion, but it's quite common among young people. Obviously using the actual word is better, but just keep it in mind!
* Rather than "in Brisbane", we'd say "i mBrisbane" (b sound replaced with an 'm'). Remember "in" is only used before place names starting with a consonant.
* Some other grammatical mistakes but just wanted to focus on the spoken language in this comment! As GaelChlar said, the copula is an important thing to look at. It's something along the lines of mixing up the Spanish/Portuguese ser/estar, or saying 我是好* in Mandarin.
Hope that helps.


Thanks for the helpful comment, Benny. Much appreciated!

I'll be sure to apply your advice here in future. My teacher went through the other grammatical mistakes with me this morning.

I've found Gaeilge speakers on Youtube and are pretty eager to help too which is great.

BTW - 'ansin' was meant to be 'anois'! I keep mixing them up. :|


Go hiontach! Great notes Benny! TG4 was the first thing I noticed was absolutely essential to the new learner. Since everyone always says it that way! It's the first immediate correction I went through! Is brea liomsa Ros na Rún agus Bean an Tí sa Chistin freisin/leis ar TG4.

Benny Lewis

* starting with a vowel I mean


Some corrections :)

0 :19 an áit a rugadh agus a tógadh mé
0:25 ag staidéar na Gaeilge, teanga na hEireann
0 :37 tá mé i m’aonar
0:42 gach seachtain bíonn múinteoir Gaeilge agam
0:46 ar Skype (not ár Skype)
0:58 ceapaim (and not cheapaim)
1:31 nuair a bhím ag éisteacht leis an mBBC
1:41 improvement = feabhas
1:49 just “Dé Sathairn”, no need for “ar”


Donovan, I think you are doing soooooo totally awesome! It takes me a long time to type in Irish. I must say reading comprehension comes first, speaking second, and typing last. I guess I didn't do as much writing as I should have at first, but typing is killer!

Pronunciation will improve gradually. I noticed that as a native English speaker there are LOTS of sounds that are not heard and repeated correctly, and in many cases not pronounced at all.

I definitely agree with @GaelChlar Copula [permanent state, see comments above] is next and most essential to understand right away. TV, Skyping, and Music are all the best ways to keep it going every day! I got my best start with Rosetta Stone, which is pretty expensive but I find learning by pictures is faster for me.

I also want to note that in Munster instead of where everyone else states "freisin" for "also", Munster Irish says "leis". Which has gotten me walking around saying both, since most people I know speak Ulster and Connacht Irish.


Thanks very much Marlene.

Sorry for the late reply :)


And if you can .... there's a wonderful Irish immersion in San Francisco every year the last weekend of September/first weekend of October. But I know there are several of those all over the world now!

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world."
- Ludwig Wittgenstein