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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep 2014 8:32 pm 
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For people who feel that Learning Irish is intimidating I generally recommend starting with Colloquial Irish. It teaches mostly Standard Irish but uses Native Connemara speakers and does teach some dialectal forms. It maps to the requirements of TEG A1 examination and has a very conversational focus. Once you have completed Colloquial Irish you should be able to breeze through the first 12 lessons or so in Learning Irish as most of what is taught will be a review.

For anyone that uses Learning Irish, you should also download the Learning Irish Workbook. This is from Nancy Stenson and is free. You can download both the workbook and answers here:

http://phouka.com/stenson/intro.htm


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PostPosted: Tue 10 Nov 2015 8:11 pm 
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Hope it's ok to bump this thread!

I'm working through Learning Irish and after some messing around with how to approach it, I decided on something that I like.

I'm using Anki flashcards to help me retain everything, so my approach is like this for each lesson

First, I write down the vocabulary words by hand, and do the same with the translation and exercise segments (writing down my translations) after having studied the lesson. Then, I make an Anki flash card using the recordings, one word or sentence per card (unless a pair of sentences only make sense together). So each card is just the word or sentence being spoken in Irish, and then the opposite side is the translation into English. I only do Irish -> English cards which is something I'm not sure about, but my reasoning is that I don't want to get a narrow idea of how to express things in Irish, since I would always be translating something into Irish in the exact same way.

To help make sure I have good listening skills and can differentiate between broad and slender sounds, I hide the text on the cards. So I hear the recording while looking at a blank card and have to go solely on what I hear, without any written cues. This is good for making sure I can hear the difference between páipéar and páipéir, for example.

If anyone is having trouble retaining stuff as you move through the book, I recommend this. It keeps you drilling everything so you never have a chance to forget something- helpful especially since not all vocabulary words are used in the exercises. For a while I just did text-only flash cards which were good too, but the audio is actually pretty easy to set up and it makes things much more interesting. I could probably even find a way to share my Anki deck with someone if they want.


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PostPosted: Wed 25 Nov 2015 9:55 am 
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I'm just finished lesson 7 of 36 and there are a few annoying things I'll point out already:

  1. The vocabulary lists at the start of each chapter contain words that are taught but aren't used, while the texts at the end of each chapter use words that weren't taught.
  2. Grammar is scattered around. If you forget whether "ar an" causes the following noun to be lenited or eclipsed, the only way is to flick through all previous pages looking for where "ar an" was introduced. I'm already finding this annoying at page 30. I presume this gets more annoying as the number of pages to search increases. For hard-to-group topics such as "What causes lenition", he could have fixed this by providing a list at the end of the book with the rules in the order they're seen. Or he could have at least made it easier to find them in the book by putting a symbol at the edge of each paragraph with a lenition/eclipsing rule.
  3. As said elsewhere, I think it's a pity he uses non-standard spelling for some Irish words without informing the learner. It's going to make it difficult for me to read books, newspapers, and dictionaries later on. And it's not even consistent. Some words are written in standard spelling with a note about Cois Fharraige pronunciation (ex: he writes "oiche", which is standard spelling, and notes it's pronounced "í") and other words are written in his own spelling (ex: instead of the standard "urlár" and "arís", he writes "orlár" and "aríst") without any indication which words are in non-standard spelling.
  4. The vocabulary list says the plural of fuinneoig is fuinneoga (page 10), but for translation exercise number 2 of lesson 7, "There are nice big windows here", the book says the answer is "Tá fuinneogaí móra deasa anseo". (It seems he can't make up his mind whether to use his own non-standard spellings or not.)
  5. The English-Irish wordlist at the end contains nothing about gender, plurals, or in which chapter the word was introduced. So if you forget a word's translation and its gender, you have to first look it up in the English-Irish wordlist, and then look up the translation in the Irish-English list which does have the gender information.
  6. His pronunciation symbols are not very useful. I'm just ignoring them so far, and I've read that others do too.
  7. Chapters don't have topics. He teaches a few words about time and a few about how to join to statements in one chapter, then a few more about each elsewhere, so it's impossible to review any topic and hard to find anything. Chapters also don't have titles, which means you can't look for anything in a table of contents, which again makes finding anything in the book difficult.

Overall, it's just badly organised and frustrating to use.

As for the positives:

  1. It goes past the beginner or lower-intermediate stage where most books/courses stop.
  2. The Irish-English wordlist does contain number of the lesson that introduced each word, so this is one way to search for things in the book.
  3. The recordings are made by native Gaeltacht speakers. (People make a big deal about this on this forum, and it's indeed a positive thing, but I've found myself referring to the recordings only rarely, so it's not that big a deal.)

I'm going to continue with this book because I've got no other, but I'm looking forward to browsing around for a replacement when I'm home for Christmas. When I was originally looking around at language courses, I thought that recordings by native Gaeltacht speakers was an essential feature, but since I've found myself using the recordings so little I'm now open to a course without any audio. For example, if I could find a good grammar book and workbook, then I could use them and use Buntús Cainte as an occasional reference for pronunciation and use newspapers (nuacht1.com) for vocabulary.

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PostPosted: Wed 25 Nov 2015 11:16 am 
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Quote:
The recordings are made by native Gaeltacht speakers. (People make a big deal about this on this forum, and it's indeed a positive thing, but I've found myself referring to the recordings only rarely, so it's not that big a deal.)


How can you learn to pronounce properly then? 8O

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PostPosted: Wed 25 Nov 2015 1:22 pm 
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Lughaidh wrote:
Quote:
The recordings are made by native Gaeltacht speakers. (People make a big deal about this on this forum, and it's indeed a positive thing, but I've found myself referring to the recordings only rarely, so it's not that big a deal.)


How can you learn to pronounce properly then? 8O

Is 4 CDs enough to teach me? :-)

I already have school Irish, and I'll learn the same way anyone learns to pronounce a language. I'll listen to lots of TV and radio, I'll search the web when I have questions, and I'll ask a native speaker when I get the chance. If possible, I'll do a Gaeltacht course or two for adults at some point.

I do hope I can find a book that comes with CDs by Gaeltacht speakers, but I've decided it's not essential. Learning Irish is so badly organised that I'm now willing to give up on CDs if I can find a book that allows me to learn without having to waste so much time flicking back and forth.

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PostPosted: Wed 25 Nov 2015 5:47 pm 
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Our man in Brussels wrote:
I'm just finished lesson 7 of 36 and there are a few annoying things I'll point out already:

  1. The vocabulary lists at the start of each chapter contain words that are taught but aren't used, while the texts at the end of each chapter use words that weren't taught.
  2. Grammar is scattered around. If you forget whether "ar an" causes the following noun to be lenited or eclipsed, the only way is to flick through all previous pages looking for where "ar an" was introduced. I'm already finding this annoying at page 30. I presume this gets more annoying as the number of pages to search increases. For hard-to-group topics such as "What causes lenition", he could have fixed this by providing a list at the end of the book with the rules in the order they're seen. Or he could have at least made it easier to find them in the book by putting a symbol at the edge of each paragraph with a lenition/eclipsing rule.
  3. As said elsewhere, I think it's a pity he uses non-standard spelling for some Irish words without informing the learner. It's going to make it difficult for me to read books, newspapers, and dictionaries later on. And it's not even consistent. Some words are written in standard spelling with a note about Cois Fharraige pronunciation (ex: he writes "oiche", which is standard spelling, and notes it's pronounced "í") and other words are written in his own spelling (ex: instead of the standard "urlár" and "arís", he writes "orlár" and "aríst") without any indication which words are in non-standard spelling.
  4. The vocabulary list says the plural of fuinneoig is fuinneoga (page 10), but for translation exercise number 2 of lesson 7, "There are nice big windows here", the book says the answer is "Tá fuinneogaí móra deasa anseo". (It seems he can't make up his mind whether to use his own non-standard spellings or not.)
  5. The English-Irish wordlist at the end contains nothing about gender, plurals, or in which chapter the word was introduced. So if you forget a word's translation and its gender, you have to first look it up in the English-Irish wordlist, and then look up the translation in the Irish-English list which does have the gender information.
  6. His pronunciation symbols are not very useful. I'm just ignoring them so far, and I've read that others do too.
  7. Chapters don't have topics. He teaches a few words about time and a few about how to join to statements in one chapter, then a few more about each elsewhere, so it's impossible to review any topic and hard to find anything. Chapters also don't have titles, which means you can't look for anything in a table of contents, which again makes finding anything in the book difficult.


There's an appendix that explains the differences in spelling, although it would certainly be helpful if non-standard words were marked just so one could keep track of them. I recommend using flashcards to remember the vocabulary; if you're consistent with them, the wordlists in the back will rarely be necessary.

As far as the recordings, I remember from your initial post about deciding on a book that it's important to you to be learning a single accent, not a mish-mash of dialects. If you rely on the radio etc. for aural input, you will not be learning a single dialect's pronunciation, so that might be an issue. Ignoring Ó Siadhail's transcriptions is a good idea, but only because at best they're a supplement to the recordings, which are the gold standard.

Searching for those minor grammar points is annoying, but I think it's a good idea to make your own cheat-sheet as you work through the book. You could even make your own headings like "lenition" and "eclipsis" and just gradually add points. It would be nice if Ó Siadhail had done this for us though. As for chapter topics, that might be just as confusing, because he can't fully explore a topic in a single chapter and much of the material would require background knowledge first (see, for example, what would have to be included in a chapter on the copula: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_syntax#The_copula_is) . He brings in aspects of grammar in a gradual and integrated way that I think works well for a sequential course, even though it doesn't work well as a reference.

There certainly are mistakes and other annoyances in the book, but with some extra effort it seems like you can get past them and actually learn a lot. A lot of other courses don't seem to have much to them, despite their attractive layout and organization.

Also, it occurs to me that, given the various dialects and their different ways of doing things, it's probably good to get used to the idea of seeing various different spellings of words, and to get good at recognizing them. That is how I got over my irritation at seeing "fuinneogaí" in lesson 7. The same goes for pronunciation- I don't know if you noticed, but in lesson 6 for example, ariamh is pronounced with a /w/ at the end in the vocabulary list recording but with a /w'/ (aka /v/) in the example text recording. An infuriating inconsistency, but given that the recordings are of native speakers, I figure that's just the way it is and something to be expected.


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PostPosted: Wed 25 Nov 2015 6:41 pm 
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Dylan wrote:
I recommend using flashcards to remember the vocabulary; if you're consistent with them, the wordlists in the back will rarely be necessary.

For other languages, I've always built my vocab by reading newspapers. I try to avoid turning vocab into something I have to "make time" for. But I read your post about anki cards and I'll keep it in mind as a possibility.

Dylan wrote:
As far as the recordings, I remember from your initial post about deciding on a book that it's important to you to be learning a single accent, not a mish-mash of dialects.

I might have been overly optimistic about the quality of learning materials available. I might have to compromise on pronunciation in order to find a decent course book that's as advanced as Learning Irish, but less frustrating.

Dylan wrote:
Searching for those minor grammar points is annoying, but I think it's a good idea to make your own cheat-sheet as you work through the book.

That's what I'm thinking too. Type each rule into the computer, make a nice searchable document. By the end, I might even have something worth putting online!

It would be great if it were legal to take his book, rearrange absolutely everything (sentence by sentence), make a small number of fixes and additions, and republish it. Or make "Learning Irish - The Unauthorised Remix".

Dylan wrote:
A lot of other courses don't seem to have much to them, despite their attractive layout and organization.

That's the main thing this course has, completeness. I just can't believe that people have been putting up with this book for 35 years and no one has published something better. I'll go through all the bookshops of Dublin at Christmas to see if there are any similarly advanced books - and if they look well-written then I'll sacrifice my pronunciation.

Dylan wrote:
Also, it occurs to me that, given the various dialects and their different ways of doing things, it's probably good to get used to the idea of seeing various different spellings of words

My preference would be to do this in the later stages. The stuff on nuacht1.com is probably mostly standard spelling.

But I think you're right about the need to make a cheat-sheet while doing this book. I'm going to start again and do that.

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PostPosted: Wed 25 Nov 2015 6:55 pm 
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Our man in Brussels wrote:
Dylan wrote:
A lot of other courses don't seem to have much to them, despite their attractive layout and organization.

That's the main thing this course has, completeness. I just can't believe that people have been putting up with this book for 35 years and no one has published something better.


I actually started with an older edition, and when the newest one (with the DVD) came out, I bought it just because I expected various mistakes etc. to be fixed, only to find that it was exactly the same besides the DVD. Kind of disappointing because it could definitely use an overhaul. But as long as all the information is in there somewhere, it can be made to work. Definitely frustrating if you don't have a lot of extra time to put in, though.

If you're no longer dead-set on learning a single dialect through to an advanced level, then starting out by working through Buntús Cainte might not be a bad idea.


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PostPosted: Wed 25 Nov 2015 11:38 pm 
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I already have school Irish, and I'll learn the same way anyone learns to pronounce a language. I'll listen to lots of TV and radio, I'll search the web when I have questions,


but concerning Irish, most of what you can hear on TV, radio and internet isn't native stuff, ie. very often it's not pronounced properly.

Quote:
and I'll ask a native speaker when I get the chance. If possible, I'll do a Gaeltacht course or two for adults at some point.


that's the only way. You can only trust native speakers (I mean, Gaeltacht ones), since very few non-native speakers do pronounce properly...

Quote:
I do hope I can find a book that comes with CDs by Gaeltacht speakers, but I've decided it's not essential. Learning Irish is so badly organised that I'm now willing to give up on CDs if I can find a book that allows me to learn without having to waste so much time flicking back and forth.


Maybe you could use the recordings of Learning Irish without using the book, or just to read and listen to the texts. Because unlike most other learning materials, the recordings of LI are awesome.

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PostPosted: Thu 26 Nov 2015 12:21 am 
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Lughaidh wrote:
Quote:
I already have school Irish, and I'll learn the same way anyone learns to pronounce a language. I'll listen to lots of TV and radio, I'll search the web when I have questions,

but concerning Irish, most of what you can hear on TV, radio and internet isn't native stuff, ie. very often it's not pronounced properly.

Oh. This is important. Can you give examples of what programs (or people) to look for or avoid?

When I watch TG4 Nuacht, I know the people they interview are about 80% non-Gaeltacht, I can hear it, and probably 40% aren't even fluent. But I presume the news readers are Gaeltacht speakers, putting on a neutral CO accent, which is OK, right?

In a report about Ulster, I noticed the reporter had an Ulster accent, so I guess the reporters speak CO but they don't completely mask their accent.

And the Ros na Rún actors are all native, right? and mostly Connemara. And other TG4-made programs in Irish? I read here on the forums that dubbed programs are sometimes flawed, but I wasn't going to watch dubbed programs anyway. What about TG4-made dramas, like An Klondike or Corp & Anam. The actors would be Gaeltacht speakers (either all or almost all), wouldn't they?

So far I've just been watching TG4 Nuacht and Ros na Rún, but my main hope for 2016 is to follow Gaelic football exclusively through Irish, and a little rugby, and of course the national soccer team's Euro2016 performance.

Lughaidh wrote:
Quote:
and I'll ask a native speaker when I get the chance. If possible, I'll do a Gaeltacht course or two for adults at some point.

that's the only way. You can only trust native speakers (I mean, Gaeltacht ones), since very few non-native speakers do pronounce properly...

Indeed. I didn't learn much Irish in my teenage years, despite a few summer courses in the Gaeltacht, but I can distinguish native from fluent-non-native, so I have some knowledge of what to aim for and what to avoid.

Lughaidh wrote:
Maybe you could use the recordings of Learning Irish without using the book, or just to read and listen to the texts. Because unlike most other learning materials, the recordings of LI are awesome.

I think that is what I will end up doing! It's such a pity that someone couldn't publish an alternative book to go with those CDs.

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