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The GaelMinn Gazette is a monthly e-newsletter from Gaeltacht Minnesota. The Gazette carries news of interest to local and regional students, as well as helpful items for anyone who is studying the Irish language, anywhere.To sign up, go to our subscription form here.
Note: This e-zine is winding down! Our last issue will be September, 2017
Issue #146 sent out August 25, 2017
Copyright © Gaeltacht Minnesota 2017
Many language students like to stick vocabulary notes around the house. This long-used practice is much easier with today's sticky notes, so you may visit a friend who is studying Irish (or French, Spanish, etc.) and find the furniture and appliances labeled with little notes.
While this is nice for basic vocabulary, in some ways it can be TOO basic. It is probably good to know what "sofa" and "shelf" and "microwave" are in your new language, but truth to tell, it is hard to work that stuff into your everyday conversations with your study buddies.
On the other hand, encountering these notes every day bugs you to put in some extra effort on the language a little more often, so as motivators they can be helpful.
To get a lot more bang from your notes, try changing:
For content, try putting questions, instead of individual words, on your "bug notes", to get you to think in terms of CONVERSATION, rather than just memorizing vocabulary. Arrange to bump into notes that ask (in Irish), "Is it warm today?", "How are you?", "Are you going to work today?", "Do you like jazz?", and so on.
Next, supplement your sticky notes with some index cards, and distribute them in a less predictable fashion. After all, those sticky notes on your bookshelf and TV quickly fade into the background so you don't even notice them. Instead, put index cards with conversation questions in your books as bookmarks. Drop a couple in your wallet or purse. Put one in the medicine cabinet, or the microwave, when you go to bed at night, so it will pop out at you in the morning.
In fact, if you have a partner, roommate, or kids, ask them to hide some of these cards, so you don't even know where they are. After all, conversations are not completely predictable, so getting 'asked' a question in Irish when you don't expect it gives you practice in responding under more natural conditions.
And even if you do it yourself -- say, at work, where you put some cards in drawers and reference materials -- shuffle your pack of cards, and hide them FACE DOWN, so you don't know, the first time you find one of those cards again, what question is going to come up.
Finally, GRADUALLY turn over the content. By that I mean, replace one or two cards a week. If you try to replace a large number all at once, you won't find the time to create them, and the whole system will collapse.
If you have helpers hiding things on you, just give them a couple of new cards, have them swap out a couple of old ones, and then see where conversations with yourself pop up as you go about your daily business.
If you have been waiting for an opportunity to join our weekly classes, plan to enroll in our four-week "Introduction to Irish Gaelic" class that will be offered through St. Paul Community Education starting September 25.
More details and a link to registration here.
We were delighted to see many old friends and make some new ones at our booth at the Irish Fair in August. Our thanks to all of our volunteers for representing Gaeltacht Minnesota so well at this event.
Special thanks to Maureen for pulling it all together and for putting in long hours each day.
Classes are meeting in separate locations and on independent schedules, check with your instructor.
Classes return to Central on Monday, September 11.
Sharing ideas we learn from both instructors AND students.
Sometimes students are reluctant to speak in class, because they think they don't have ENOUGH to say. They don't feel like they can really say anything interesting, or what they want to say is too long and complicated, so they clam up -- thus giving up the opportunities for practice that are essential to developing conversation skills.
We encourage you to prepare, in advance, very tiny snippets of conversation or news. Write them out during the week, rehearse them, and then pull them out when you get into a conversation, or in class or your study group.
But do it with this twist: try CUTTING DOWN what you want to say to just a couple of sentences.
In the delightful old musical "The Bandwagon", there's a wonderful pair of lines, in one of the big songs, that summarizes Hamlet:
"Where a prince and a ghost meet,
And everyone ends up mincemeat."
When you don't have a lot of Irish -- and none of us have as much as we want -- learn to cut things down to YOUR size. Talk about events in your day, movies or books or poems or TV shows, conversations you hear or take part in, but whittle them down to a few sentences.
The key is to commit to saying SOMETHING, to being able to talk about your life, your daily experiences. If you're pretty new at this, you can ridiculously simplify your conversation. These little summaries are so brief that you should be able to do several of them in a week.
You're building the habit of talking about your life in Irish. And with that habit will come the desire to say a little more, to learn the next thing you need to know to be able to say what you want.
As your Irish skills and vocabulary grow, you'll be able to summarize events in three or four sentences. What's valuable is the experience in creating a narrative, of finding a way to talk about something in Irish, something out of your own experience. That is, after all, what we call conversation.
(By the way, if you need inspiration, you might like to check out some four-word film reviews at http://www.fwfr.com.)
Comments and questions are welcome via e-mail