Oh dear, what have I gotten myself into?
I wasn't expecting the Irish course to be easy, but I don't think I was fully prepared for what the language would be like. Here I was, three North Germanic courses under my belt, thinking I must be hot stuff to have managed it. But I got knocked off of that high horse with the first lesson of Basics 1.
It's going to take me a long time to climb to the top of this tree. I'm sure I'll appreciate the journey once I've made it, though.
Irish is a tough language. It comes easier to some than others, but I'd say it's definitely... tough. However, I may feel this way because it's the first language I've seriously tried to learn, and they say your first is the toughest. But what makes it seem this way is that it is so different than the Germanic and Romance languages. The grammar rules seem bizarre and random, but they're surprisingly regular (more-so than English, in my opinion!). Pronunciation is another one that trips people up, but again, there's a surprising level of regularity with that as well.
When I started my Irish tree, it was actually pretty simple for a while, but once I got to the Eclipsis and Lenition lessons, holy moly! This was a whole new level of difficult. Eventually, though, these concepts became more natural to me. I still trip up with them, but more often than not I find myself naturally knowing when to lenite or eclipse words. The next major toughie for me was Genitive Case... I still have troubles with this! Verbal Nouns was hit or miss for me... sometimes I get it down like a pro, other times I'm missing every other question. :-/
It took me 6-7 months to complete the Irish tree... but man was I proud when I did!
I am german, for me English was my first foreign language and it was much easier for me to learn. Irish is very hard for me, I don't get the eclipsis/leninition stuff. Normally I am really good at picking up grammar, I never understood why a lot of people in my school had that many problems with the english grammar. Also spanish wasn't that hard for me. But this time I really struggle. But I want to learn it.
Decided to learn this so I could understand all the Gaelic songs in my massive Celtic music collection (and possibly translate some). Translating Gaelic to English is pretty easy, but going the other way I'm working on--all those bizarre spellings and syntax threw me for a loop at first, but I'm slowly but surely getting the hang of it--the notion of translating (and maybe even singing along in!) this beautiful language keeps me excited and motivated.
Oh yes, Irish is indeed a challenge! I started it a little before Dutch, and while I have finished the Dutch tree already, I haven't even gotten to the second checkpoint in Irish. I strongly recommend also doing the Memrise course that goes along with it. I am working on the Dates/Time skill right now. At the pace I am going, I don't expect to finish the Irish tree before Christmas 2015.
I'm Irish so I can say yes, Irish is tough. The verb conjugation rules are completely different to any other European language! But it's very regular too, only 11 irregular verbs which are easy enough once you get the hang of it. The other grammar rules are annoying,I've been learning Irish for my entire life and I still find it hard! It's well worth it, I'm happy to see people learning our language again.
It took me a good while to get into it, but I promised myself I'd stick with it ;) I'm glad I did, because I started liking it more recently - perhaps on account of breaking through some barrier in terms of learning, or perhaps because I learned a few silly little things that made it more charming to me.
For example, I was using the word "uisce" for ages (comes up in the first lesson or so, right?) without ever noticing that it is the root of our word "whisky" (and "whiskey", but hey, I prefer Scotch). In Irish it's "uisce beatha", the water of life. Which of course makes it a touch amusing that we shorten it to just the part that means "water".
It's not like me to miss a cognate - I remember I recognised at a glance for example that the word "fuinneog" is basically the word "window" with a different spelling and pronunciation - but somehow this one with "uisce" just passed me by, and made me smile when I realised it.
I don't need a lot to motivate me to learn a language, especially when the basics are made so accessible as on Duolingo, but finding little things like that really helps.
Oh, and if ever you do need a smile when you're studying Irish...
Or even to get spoilers regards the soap-opera that is Pól's life (probably "the most interesting man in the world", what with all the things he gets up to over the course of the course, of course)
I learned Irish and German in school and never managed to speak either of them. Then I learned Czech. When I started learning Spanish I was shocked at how easy learning a language could be. I always thought it was a difficult thing to do but.. nope. Just so happened that the first 3 languages I studied were very different from English and for that reason very difficult for English speakers.
I was SURPRISED (like everyone else) how complicated the Irish language is! I practice every day, with either Duolingo, Memrise, or several grammar books. I started in October 2014, and can read Irish quite well, but speaking it is hard for me! I am taking my time, as I want to really master this language - I expect it will take years :) Welcome to a crazy-wonderful language!
Do the Scandinavian languages do any V2 (forcing a verb as the second element of a main sentence) stuff like German? I don't actually know*, but I found that having deciphered sentences like "Heute gibe ich dir die Bücher" (might contain errors? It's been a long day and I'm not super confident normally) helped with grasping the VSO word order in the first lessons.
Now, Eclipsis and Lenition have me kind of puzzled (also I haven't picked up on the pronunciation, only that it doesn't much resemble English's rather confused rules) or at least haven't sunk in yet, but I'm also not exactly concentrating on Irish at this point. ...it was more of a pleasant diversion from German (and now Spanish) I may yet pursue further in the future. X)
...and, apparently some people find that certain language families suit them better than others? I think it's flootzavut who gets along well with Slavic languages and not so well with Romance languages. I haven't pursued enough related languages to know, but I do tend to like some of the Germanic features also present in old English.
*Though, hah, I actually managed to sort of understand something a student of Norwegian wrote the other day with what I know of German and English.