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on 22 December 2008
Having studied at Oideas Gael, in Donegal, one of the places featured here, I was excited to find, the year after my course, the arrival of this book- DVD pairing. I'll delve into its structure and organization. A brief comparison with other products (see my Amazon US Listmania "Learning Irish Gaelic" for more) may assist your decision whether or not it's for you.

Twenty units focus on themes; the hardcover (thankfully-- this is a big plus in learning materials too rarely found; the ability to prop a book open is often worth the expense rather than a flimsy paperback whose pages separate and whose binding breaks) workbook naturally gives transcriptions and directions. I would have liked subtitles as an option, too; the lack of this makes it harder to keep up with the rapid (if you're at my level) speech patterns. Still, this immersion forces you to accelerate into the kind of encounters that prepare you for real life outside the halting pace of the classroom.

The timed interviews-- beginning from ten seconds and ending the book at nearly two minutes-- are prepared for with phrases or vocabulary that may differ from "school" or Standard Irish taught. Some are dialectal; some are grammatical elaborations, some cultural or vocabulary enrichments. Simple fill-in exercises may precede segments. Each chapter has a few taped snippets. Translations and answers well kept to the back of the book are given.

The range is wider than the old "The four sheep are in the high mountain meadow eating oats when Mary walks towards them" types of sentences found in primers. Buddhism, ecology, GAA, Israel and India, Irish sign language, learners vs. natives in Gaeltachtaí, dance, emigration, working mothers, the usually ignored presence of Irish speakers in North America: all receive their minute or two in the text and on the screen.

Poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh, activists Liam Ó Cuinneagáin & Helen Ó Murchú, TD Trevor Sargent, local residents, and, encouragingly, even learners from abroad can be heard among nearly two dozen interviewees. The range of accents, slips into English, and variations on the schoolhouse form of Irish may throw some off, but these are essential in preparing learners to leave the textbooks behind and begin to chat in Irish on the streets, and in the pubs. Seeing the Irish landscape behind so many of the speakers adds to the welcome illusion that you are back in Ireland hearing the native tongue vibrant, idiosyncratic, and ordinarily spoken, as it's meant to be.

This bridge into the natural communities that form by natives and learners and students refreshing earlier lessons may be lengthened with Turas Teanga, an RTÉ CD-DVD-book set geared more towards those reviving their "school Irish." This is aimed, be cautioned, at those intermediate or advanced students. SI is more practical and less linguistically focused per se than Mícheál Ó Siadhail's "Learning Irish;" it's less basic than "Gaeilge agus Fáilte;" it's certainly far beyond the Pimsleur conversations, and probably more enjoyable than the "Teach Yourself Irish" CD-book pairs.

For eager beginners: seek out "Gaeilge agus Fáilte." For SI's pricier, somewhat less user-friendly counterpart: "Turas Teanga." For serious linguists wanting a particular dialect, Cois Fharraige in Connaught: "Learning Irish." SI also is far more advanced than the new "Colloquial Irish" CD-book set, which is basic Connemara Irish of around 800 words. Ultimately, SI may prove the help that many, after finishing an immersion course in or away from Ireland, may need to continue their study when they return to a home far from a Gaeltacht.
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on 27 October 2008
I found the book and CD very useful. It bridges well the gap between the Connacht, Munster and Ulster dialects. A good standard of Irish is assumed but a speaker of that standard will soon adapt to the challenges presented. The Grammar sections are good and explain for example the fact that some Dialects do not lenite . The back of book also contains an explanation and language points for each Chapter. Best of all is the flexibility of the CD. Study of favourite Sections is easy before moving onto less liked Parts.
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on 18 August 2010
It's refreshing to come across a product that delivers the goods as promised. This book/cd does indeed go beyond the basics and does so in a clear and logical, yet enjoyable way. However it's not for the begineer and reading one of the last reviewers comment I think she missed that point. Regarding content, everything is fresh and up to date. All dialects get some coverage and indeed individuals who grew up speaking the language are inteviewed. And thats where the CD comes in, you get to hear and read translations of what is said. This is the basic idea behind the product. But it works amazingly. As someone who is always looking for ways to improve my Irish skills, I would consider this one of the best products out there..
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on 20 December 2010
I've only just started using this product - but Amazon has invited me to "review" it.

I think it is very good. The DVD has a number of native speakers speaking on various subjects. Of the ones I've listened to they speak fluently and entertainingly.

I've only one criticism. The interviews are grouped responding to chapters in the book. On my computer I can not jump from one interview to another - I have to listen to all the interviews in the sequences as they are grouped.

A producted like this has been needed for a long time. I hope it is the first of many. Would be best though if there was a book for each dialect.
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on 11 February 2010
I found this very useful. It's not ideal for someone who has little knowledg of Irish, you'll need to buy another book if your a beginner. This book focuses on dialectal variation and generally 'speaking' the language. You can immediatly begin to tell the differece between Donegal, Connemara and Dingle Irish speakers very quickly, and I found it very useful for giving me confidence in the language, and being able to easily mimic the pronunciation of different speakers.
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on 14 April 2009
I got this for my husband whos learning irish he did'nt find it very good, hard to understand.
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