As the summer of 2018 comes to an end it’s time to start planning for next year. It’s around this time that many people ask is the Gaeltacht worth it? Although it may feel like a long time away, it’s important to begin thinking about your plans especially if you hope to head to the Gaeltacht.
Keep in mind that the overall purpose of any Irish college is to improve your Irish. There is no denying that plenty of ‘craic’ comes with the Gaeltacht experience but remember that the main aim is to become more fluent for that all important oral worth 40%.
Here is my list of benefits and things to consider before going to the Gaeltacht.
1. Remember why you’re going to the Gaeltacht
For many people, the idea of improving their Irish is lost in the fun. The more work you put in at the Gaeltacht, the more you will get from it. Put the work in during class time by participating in discussions and asking questions. Never be afraid to ask questions even if you don’t think you’ve said it properly as the whole point is to develop your skills in speaking Irish. Nobody expects you to be a perfect Gaelgoir. Use your time at the Gaeltacht to enjoy the Irish language and relieve the pressure of your oral exam.
2. Meet new friends & build your confidence
The Gaeltacht is also a great way to meet new people and gain confidence. Spending time at the Gaeltacht not only improves your confidence in speaking Irish but in your ability to meet new people and be away from home. Gaeltachts are a great place to meet people from all across the country. You can create lasting friendships and learn by speaking to your new friends them on a daily basis. The Gaeltacht may also be your first opportunity to be away from your parents or guardians and live independently. This will improve your confidence and is great preparation for university or college life.
3. Do some research before making a decision
Enrolment will soon begin for many Gaeltachts and so here are some things to consider beforehand. It is no secret that the Gaeltacht is expensive. Research the Gaeltacht in plenty of time to find one that is right for your family budget. Look at the activities that are offered such as sports, music, watersports, etc. and decide on what interests you. It can be quite nerve-wracking to spend 3 full weeks away from home. Think about whether spending 2 weeks would be a better fit for you. Above all make sure you are willing to take part and commit yourself to the Irish Language for the duration of the course.
4. There will be something for everyone
In my own experience, I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at the Gaeltacht. I found the classes very interesting and different to a typical Irish lesson in school. Irish classes in the Gaeltacht are based on speaking the language rather than a focus only on exams. Although I was not a fan of the afternoon sporting events, there are activities for everyone for all interests and so I loved the céilís at night. I know that everyone there had moments of being homesick. For some people, the feeling of missing home stopped them from enjoying their time at the Gaeltacht. It can help to remember that everyone misses home and so it can make you feel better to talk about it. I attended a Gaeltacht with around 100 people in total on the course and so it was easy to make friends. By immersing myself in the language for three full weeks I became much more confident in speaking, writing and comprehending Irish and I can’t wait to go back next year.