Summer 2k20 offers us a unique opportunity to focus exclusively on advancing OIDE our own online language learning support platform.
Due to poor local broadband, we have never succeeded in integrating OIDE into our summer courses. However, this does not affect remote use and we are delighted to be able to finally use OIDE, unhindered by broadband issues.
OIDE relies heavily on Irish language experts to introduce, explain, and facilitate high-quality interaction with new learning materials and to give tailored feedback on follow-on recorded work.
We have an adept team of accomplished Irish language teachers who are super-enthusiastic to launch into our inaugural on-line program. OIDE is an in-house Irish language support platform that is being developed on an on-going and voluntary basis by Lurgan. It has a Desktop / Mac & Android version. Unfortunately, are unable to update to current IOS requirements.
OIDE focuses on spoken Gaeilge as used in an ordinary speech by native speakers in the Connemara Gaeltacht, with the objective to facilitate learners in becoming more fluent, proficient, and comfortable with the language.
OIDE’s main feature is that allows for individual recorded audio work to be listened to by OIDE tutors who furnish targeted feedback that is tailored to personal requirements.
Learners thereafter have three audio references to each target audios:
- The original native speaker audio
- Their own attempt
- Concise tutor feedback on their attempt.
The true value of tutor feedback lies in the genuineness of the learner’s recorded attempts. The more authentic student recordings are, the greater the value of the feedback.
OIDE will form part of the daily work program (approx. 20 minutes) where students will use their own phones/device to record their own voices.
The independent learning aspect supplements classwork and reinforces the language content that underpins casual & social interactions.
The key to becoming a confident Irish-language speaker lies in your ability to engage in basic everyday dialogue.
We recognize 4 steps in the OIDE approach to learning/Acquiring Gaeilge
Classes are restricted to 10 participants. Each online class run for 20 mins where a teacher presents a set of audios that targets a specific characteristic/trait that is being highlighted. All audios are readily accessible on OIDE and are catalogued in the OIDE publication. Learning materials & associated dialogues are outlined & organized in downloadable PDFs which learners consult for role-play & breakout groups during class time. Our Zoom Pro account allows varied interactions and is ideal for language learning. Learners will also have video access to each class they participate in.
OIDE focuses on becoming conversational. Working and practising with real conversation leads to real progress. This means that communication/conversation/everyday dialogue & chit chat/ pronunciation are all key elements in the learning program.
You do not need grammatical explanations nor to know everything right away as you can quite readily get by on the basics you already have while expanding your conversational skill-set as you proceed with the coursework.
What you do need first and foremost is to prioritize functional dialogue by emphasizing a range of basic interactive dialogues that are most used and are of maximum usage value.
If you want your Gaeilge to sound natural, a good way to start is to work with authentic sentences that can be put to immediate use
- The who? / what? / when? / where? / why? and how?
- Everyday verbs and how they relate to past, present, and future. Challenges with verb use include:
- Verb always repeated in answers – No equivalent to Yes? No as in English
- Sound changes at the beginning (séimhiú/urú) depending on whether posing or answering (positive/negative)
- Different verb endings according to tense 4. Two non-interchangeable forms of the verb “to be”.
- Set phrases & figures of speech feature prominently. Most learners find that they memorize words better if they do something with them. OIDE includes several interactive tasks which reinforce comprehension
- Getting a handle on prepositional pronouns as the use of prepositions differs fundamentally to English and makes the word for word translation impossible. There is a pattern/system with prepositional pronouns use that becomes clear with practice
- Paying attention to the “foreign sounds”, rhythms & intonation of native speech.
- Improving pronunciation is not just about sounding good, it changes the way you listen to the language and it helps you learn faster.
- Mimic Sound Morphing & Connected Speech: Native speakers (in all languages) cut, mix, leave out sounds when they speak informally. Mimicking these gives maximum return for minimal effort.
The absolute best exercise to hone & improve pronunciation, intonation, rhythm & flow of spoken Gaeilge is to pay close attention to and practice native speaker dialogue. Imitating accent & inflection may initially feel strange, but you will quickly lose your self-consciousness as you become familiar to hearing your own voice speak as Gaeilge.
The more focused your listening and repetition work is, the more comfortable you become with the phonics and sound patterns. Recording yourself and listening back is a great way to home in on your strengths & weaknesses. If you cannot hear your pronunciation problems, it is difficult to correct them.
OIDE features 3 types of tasks where learners record their own voices for tutor feedback.
Lessons have between 12-16 associated native speaker recordings. Most materials are presented in a question/answer format. One of the best self-improvement tools is recording your own voice for playback.
The focus is on accuracy as you practice new words and phrases, and repetition is the key to locking the new vocabulary and pronunciations into your long-term memory. So, do not rush through the exercises. Instead, take your time to practice out loud until you are ready to make your own recording. Then, listen to your recording and compare it to the original. If you do not feel your attempt is sufficiently clear, you can simply try again.
The strength of this independent learning method is that you are in full control. You can feel free to make mistakes as you work closer and closer to your goal of mimicking the native speaker.
Blue Tasks Challenge – Response:
It is essential to be thoroughly acquainted with the 12-15 audio files featured in the corresponding green task before undertaking the challenge.
Here you are required to think on your feet and record your responses to pre-set questions/prompts.,
This is a highly active way of learning, requiring you to use the language in a meaningful way.
On playback learners receive confirmation whether their responses were correct or not.
There are several built-in controls enabling you to re-try or to re-do from the beginning.
Your final completed answers are then available to teachers for analysis & feedback
Seinnteoir – OIDE Player
The Seinnteoir is an advanced video dubbing engine with inbuilt features to maximize learners’ control over playback/retrying/looping audios / toggling between original &student audio. Seinnteoir allows learners to role-play different characters engaged in authentic dialogue.
The relevance & authenticity of the featured exchanges underpins a potent language learning exercise which delivers outstanding results. One major goal for the OIDE project is to greatly widen the scope of custom-made videos for the OIDE Seinnteoir (Player)
It is for you to discover for yourself the correct form, pronunciation, and intonation. Self-analysis and repetition have the effect of gradually embedding new learning into your long-term memory, so do not take shortcuts. Practice, practice and then … you guessed it: PRACTICE!
Red Tasks – Self-Correcting
OIDE offers several self-correcting interactive tasks/exercises for each lesson.
Most of the tasks are audio-based – The audios used to be the same target audios of the lesson.
N.B. You should develop the habit of repeating each audio aloud (the more times the better) as you encounter them while working on these tasks. This practice would greatly help store the new vocabulary in your long-term memory.
Tasks are based on recognizing/identifying/putting in context/spelling/associating the key phrases, words, and concepts of the lesson.
These tasks are self-correcting, and learners receive immediate confirmation whether their choice of answer is correct or not.
These tasks are ideal for recapping the fundamentals of lessons at later stages.
It is well documented that revisiting the main learning points of a lesson at regular intervals of a week, a month, three months, and a year greatly increase the chance of the materials learnt to be placed in the long-term memory.
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” – Aristotle 384-332 BC
In OIDE we use native speaker audio to demonstrate and enhance pronunciation. Practising with real language and how it is used in real life.
Paying close attention to sounds, intonation, rhythm & flow is what we prize above all else.
To get the very best return from your time spent on OIDE you really need to throw caution to the wind and go all-out at trying to imitate as closely as you possibly can the native speaker audios when undertaking your recording work.
The more genuine your recorded work the more valuable the feedback.
Each individual recording is listened to and given a cursory score out of 5. Tailored audio recommendations/suggestions are also given.
Scores & feedback are for your eyes only (also parents /guardians for u-18s)
The ulterior motive of OIDE is for the language to be engaged with for its own sake, because “you want to” and not because “you have to” or merely for exam preparation.
Motivation + Regular Practice = Success
You need to foster a real passion for Gaeilge and to make acquiring Gaeilge the defining purpose of your endeavours.
Ask yourself the following questions: “Why do I want to learn Gaeilge? Is it so important for me to learn my own language?”
Like acquiring any new skill learning Gaeilge requires strong will & motivation. Once you have decided on Gaeilge it is crucial to commit.
“OK, I WANT TO LEARN GAEILGE AND I’M THEREFORE GOING TO DO AS MUCH AS I CAN IN GAEILGE, WITH GAEILGE, FOR GAEILGE.”
The most crucial aspect of language learning is moving from the book or Internet to real-life situations and interacting with others.
Learning Gaeilge is a conscious activity that is usually applied inside a classroom while acquiring Gaeilge is a subconscious process that thrives on active participation and extended exposure.
Partaking in casual informal conversations as Gaeilge is central to building up confidence and in bonding with the language.
A willingness to communicate with others is the single most important requirement for learners.
This also is a fun part of language learning as it requires social interaction.
If there is one “secret” to acquiring/learning Gaeilge its this.
“HOURS AND HOURS OF INFORMAL CHIT CHAT WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE WILLING TO SPEAK / CONVERSE WITH YOU.”
Your co-learners are your language partners and will supply the most important element of all – social engagement. Let there be no illusions, the greatest return on investment is to speak and communicate with fellow learners in real life.
The best possible outcome for you as a language learner is for people to speak back to you. Reaching this milestone makes it much easier to stay motivated and keep practising.
Personal, casual exchanges offer the most valuable opportunities for language acquisition and should be prized above all other orders.
Value Fluency Over Accuracy:
Emphasise communication and functional fluency above all else.
And do not worry, you will not annoy anybody by speaking the language “poorly”. On the contrary, you will find that a proactive approach will enthuse and encourage others. “Ce’ chaoi a ndéarfá “X” (How do I say “X”?) is the most important sentence you can learn. Learn it early and use it often.
Think as Gaeilge:
This is crucial as one of the greatest obstacles to acquiring Gaeilge is the habit of actively translating from English to Gaeilge instead of thinking automatically as Gaeilge. The moment you cut out English completely is the moment you begin to think as Gaeilge. You can do this from the very first day. Once you can speak & listen without thinking about it, you are really hitting a high level.
Make loads of mistakes:
The most common barrier to conversing as Gaeilge is the fear of making mistakes.
No matter how much you learn, you will never acquire Gaeilge without putting yourself out there, initiating conversations, talking to people you do not know, speaking regardless of bungling and mispronouncing words. The more you do this the more your confidence will grow. Making loads of mistakes shows that you are truly using and practising the language
“WE’RE ABLE TO PRONOUNCE ANYTHING, IT’S JUST WE’RE NOT USED TO DOING IT YET”