Languages are difficult to learn for both children and adults alike. Gaeilge is a difficult language to teach and many parents don’t have much Irish themselves. As well as this, unfortunately, Irish is not a language that is used in everyday conversation by many people. For example, many parents don’t need to use Irish in work/ in the shop/ at home and therefore children don’t see the language as a ‘real’ language as it can be seen as something that is only done in school! There is sometimes a gap between where the children should be at and their actual level of Irish. Usually when children return after holidays/ midterms they have forgotten a lot of the Irish as they have not used it at home. This post will share some ideas on making Irish more enjoyable and successful for teachers and children!

Start with the basics – focusing on the themes

Here are some ideas;

Myself and My Family

Can the children talk about themselves (name, age, where they live, eye colour, hair colour,  no. of brothers and sisters and their names, things they like/don’t like, hobbies)?


How many bedrooms? Is it one storey or two? Do you have a garden? Describe your bedroom – what colour are the walls? Can you name the rooms of the house? Can you name 4/5 pieces of furniture in each room?


What is the name of the school? What class are you in? List the subjects and what is your favourite subject?


Can the children list 3/4 things they eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Choose a place e.g. the cinema – can the children list the food they might have at the cinema (popcorn, sweets, a drink etc.) My favourite food …


List the different types of tv programmes. My favourite tv programme is __________. The names of the characters in the story. The time/day that the programme is on.


List the different types of shops. Money – euro and cent. Phrases; Can I help you? What would you like? Whats the cost? Heres your change. Do you have ____________?


List different hobbies. I like ___________. I play with ___________ (friends/team name). We train on _________ at _______am/pm. Equipment needed for the hobby.


List the basics – school uniform, casual clothes, clothes for hobbies e.g. tracksuit/ swimsuit/ googles etc. clothes for different types of weather


Describe the weather.  Weather for the day. Clothes depending on the weather. Days, months.

Special Occasions

Key vocabulary for the special occasion. How do we celebrate this occasion?

I made these powerpoints which I have found very helpful when starting with the basics – they are divided into 1st and 2nd class, 3rd and 4th and 5th and 6th. (Usual price is 3 euro each but they are half price until 8pm this evening)

Scrap the book (for now)

Put the book away – we used Bun go Barr at the beginning of the year last year and every time I mentioned it there was a groan. The children hated it – mainly because it was too difficult and they rarely experienced success when completing the exercises.

Until the children are secure in the basics (see above) don’t use the book as the focus for the lesson. The book is often aimed at a level which the children have not reached yet. This makes the book a thing of dread. (I’m aware that there are some new programmes which are very interactive and child led but many schools are still using older books/resources.)

Once the children had a good knowledge of the basics; they could then complete the exercises in the book independently.

Reading a story

Books such as Bun go Barr have stories like comics- with a picture and a sentence or two underneath. This is really helpful when explaining new words or vocabulary.

Another method I found useful was similar to ‘Talk for Writing’ where the children have actions for each part of the story. I started doing this in my class last year and there was vast improvements in the children’s understanding of the story, answering the questions independently and using the phrases in their own writing. It also made the lesson more fun and the children were more engaged in their learning.

Teaching new vocabulary and phrases

Here are some ideas for teaching new vocabulary/phrases;

  • Use images – children can quickly make the link between the vocabulary/phrase and the image.
  • Use drama – children act out the phrase – this is particularly useful for teaching new verbs e.g. ag luascadh
  • Use games – matching; words and images, hide an image -what is missing? one child does an action – other children guess what it is, be the teacher – give instructions and children must follow.


Lots of ideas for teaching verbs here.