Tá ulchabhán agam!
So I've just completed my Irish tree and now have my second ulchabhán uaine (to go along with the Spanish one)! I thought I might share some of my thoughts and feedback on the Duolingo Irish course:
Overall I think it's been a brilliant addition to the rest of my self-study. Just having the 'active learning' aspect has been a huge boost on top of watching TG4, listening to RnaG and reading up on grammar.
In terms of what level I think the course has left me at - well I'm by no means conversational, something that was definitively proven by my few visits to a local cíorcal comhrá! On the other hand, my reading has taken a big boost and my listening comprehension seems to have improved as well. I think looking into ways to improve the 'conversational' aspect of the course could be a good idea.
Having started out without much of an opinion on the matter, I do think I'd like to see a different speaker/audio tried out on the course. As I went through my tree I noticed I was improving in most areas, but then I would still fail the 'type what you hear' sections far more regularly than I would others. I only really began to notice this as my listening skills improved. I'd type the sound the speaker made only to discover it should actually have been something different. It hasn't really affected my enjoyment of the course, but I think it could definitely be made clearer.
On the flip side of that coin though, I do think the current audio has in fact helped me in my study. Due to the ambiguity of the audio I've become much more fastidious in checking on the pronunciation of words and looking for differences in dialect!
As for where I go from here, it's a bit of a question mark. As I said, I'm lucky enough to live in a place where there is an occasional cíorcal comhrá, but it is entirely made up of fluent speakers and I don't yet have a level of Irish to meaningfully interact with them (and I do feel it's unfair to disrupt their meeting by having them stop and drop into English to fill me in on details). I think I will just have to keep up my self-study and try to advance myself to a reasonable conversational standard.
Over here in England, at least, it seems that there's a lack of beginner-to-intermediate events and groups. Places for people with 'an cúpla focal' to go and practice and learn together. I don't know if it's the same in Ireland, but it seems there's a big chasm between people with 'an cúpla focal' and conversational gaeilgeoirí. I personally think if we can find better ways to help the former progress into being the latter then it would be a big boost to the language.
So in conclusion, a big thanks to the Team Irish, the Duolingo staff and everyone who has helped out on the course. It's been a huge help to me and given me plenty of food for thought as to my future study. I shall continue to work on my tree and watch for any future updates. :)
Go raibh míle maith agaibh, a chairde! <sub>MM</sub>