Courses and Levels

Participants on the digital photography course
Learners at Oideas Gael
Enjoying the coffee break

Are there any entry requirements for the courses?No. Once you are over seventeen, you can participate in our courses. There are no qualifications required except that you are interested in learning or improving your Irish. People of all ages and language levels participate; this ensures a good learning dynamic and environment with everyone helping each other as a team.

What types of people attend Oideas Gael Courses?Over 1600 people participated in the year 2009 courses. 50% came from Ireland and the rest were from thirty different countries. People come from all social backgrounds, young and old, and may or may not be Irish or even have ancestral connections.

Can I register for more than one course in any one week?No. Most of the courses involve daylong participation in a chosen course.

How many people attend a course?It depends on the time of year. Our Easter, July and August courses can be very busy with sixty people or more. Our summer school in language and culture is our busiest week; we usually have over a hundred people in eight different levels. June courses may only have twenty to thirty participants per course.

How many in each class level?We work on a ratio of one teacher to fifteen learners. There are always at least three levels for up to 45 students. For every 15 extra participants, there will be an extra level. We could have up to six various levels in some courses.

May I stay for more than one week?Of course! Many participants register for two or more weeks. Some may do an Irish course for two weeks and follow with an activity course such as walking or flute or vice-versa. If you are doing Irish for more than one week, it is usually possible to advance a level each subsequent week. This, of course, depends on your own progress and aptitude. Some decide, if absolute beginners, to do the same level again for further reinforcement. We do advise those planning to do Irish for more than four weeks, to take a break after the third week and possibly do another activity. The courses are intensive and demanding—but again it does depend on your personal stamina and determination.

How soon before a course should I register?We advise you to register at least one month in advance. The weeklong courses in July and August are usually in high demand as are the weekend courses throughout the year.

What is the best method of payment?You can opt to pay by credit card, debit card, bank transfer (email us for bank details) or cheque. We require payment for the first course on making the reservation. This can done online, by phone or by Skype. The balance (if attending more than one course), can be paid prior to arrival or while here. Accommodation fees are paid, while here, early in the week and it is best to have cash, as most accommodation providers don't have credit card facilities.

How does a person decide on which language level to attend?All participants are met on arrival by the staff and are consulted on their previous language learning experiences, if any. A class placement session with the whole group is organised; we usually manage, with the participant’s co-operation to get the right level… Level 1 is for absolute beginners. Level 2 is for those with some Irish and a reasonable comprehension level. Level 3 or higher if available, is for those with some spoken Irish or fairly fluent.

Do I learn reading and writing?The courses focus, for the greater part, on conversational Irish and only the higher levels focus on some reading and writing. We try to involve participants in activities that they wouldn't have a facility or opportunity for where they are at home.

What about grammar?We don't focus too much on grammar! Our class format encourages those who have grammatical queries to note them and the last fifteen minutes of each session are dedicated towards clarification on those issues. Teachers give printouts of basic grammatical issues.

What is different about the Language and Culture Summer School?This was our first ever course in 1984 and we still offer this programme every summer at the end of July. This offers language classes each morning only, at seven or eight various levels. Participants choose a workshop each afternoon from a range of activities from setdancing, sean-nós singing, walking, drama, tin whistle playing, folklore etc. We have concerts, poetry reading, and lectures each evening.

What dialect is used in the language teaching?Our first priority is to use professionally qualified and highly motivated teachers. The majority would be experienced in teaching in various places throughout Ireland and would therefore have clarity of presentation regardless of which dialect they use on a daily basis. As we are located in Ulster, there will be a slight emphasis on the Ulster dialect but not to the detriment of others. We feel that dialect can become too major an issue for learners instead of focusing on the core language itself. We find that once people reach a certain level of fluency, they then place emphasis on one particular dialect, for one reason or another. We know many excellent teachers with a Brooklyn, Chicago or Tokyo dialects!

What texts do you use?Our teachers use materials assembled by leading linguists such as Éamonn Ó Dónaill, of ‘Now You're Talking’ fame, as well as other well prepared materials. We give our teachers personal freedom in using other resources that they enjoy using. A good class always offers variety! We use a good core course, and also teach greetings, role-plays, songs, sayings and language games. Energy efficient enjoyable learning is our objective.

Will I enjoy myself?Most people are pleasantly surprised by their Oideas Gael experience. It is more than language learning! People make new friends from around the world and the dynamic of the course ensures that the overall experience (including the pub sessions) make for a memorable holiday.