Linguaphile. One who loves languages, or words. So me, then.
What is your mother tongue?
English, though I was also raised through Irish. I’d consider myself bilingual, with fluency in Irish and English.
What are the official languages of the country you live in?
Irish and English. English is the de facto language, and unfortunately not a lot of people speak Irish on a day to day basis here.
Are there any minority languages in your country? Are you interested in them?
With the high amount of immigration over the last ten years, the numbers of Polish and Brazilian speakers in Ireland has soared. I’d love to be able to speak Portuguese.
Are there any minority/extinct languages you’re interested in?
I’d like to learn Welsh, or at least grasp the basics, for obvious reasons.
How many languages can you speak, and to what level?
Fluent English and Irish, German to a fairly high standard (as my Leaving Cert FOUR YEARS AGO would tell you) and very, very basic Spanish. I can also offer you some very choice French phrases you probably shouldn’t use in front of your Mam.
As I count both Irish and English as my first languages, I’m gonna pick German for this (can you even have two first languages?)
I started German when I was 13, in my first year of secondary school. We had a choice between French and German. Naturally, I wanted both, but because of timetabling issues I had to drop French.
Is a second language a mandatory subject in your country and how many hours per day do children learn it?
My parents could answer this one far better than I, but I’ll give it a go.
For a lot of people here, Irish is a second language. It’s taught for about an hour or so a day in primary school, and when I was in secondary school we had a half hour Irish class each day. In sixth year, we had an hour long lesson once a week on top of that.
As for mandatory, Irish is one of the Big Three, and it is a compulsory subject for both state exams (unless you get an exemption). A foreign language is a requirement for a lot of courses in colleges around Ireland, too.
What do you think of immersion? Have you ever/would you like to try it?
I did immersion for both Irish (summers at the Gaeltacht are almost a ritual for teenagers here) and German, as I did a school exchange in Heidelberg for two weeks. I really liked Germany, and I think if I were ever to learn German again I’d definitely look into a holiday there for a few weeks.
How many languages are you learning at the moment? (self study counts)
I’m learning Spanish on Duolingo. I went to a Spanish class in the area back in September, but it wasn’t great, and I didn’t find it challenging enough for me.What languages would you like to learn in the future?
I’d like to go back and be able to speak actual French. The kind that wouldn’t get me jailed for indecency.
Do you prefer attending courses/classes or learning on your own? Why?
I like being in a class. I’ve always been academically minded, and class learning is the best way for me to go, I think.
Is there a language you have just given up on although you really wanted to master it?
In a way, Spanish. While I do still do it on Duolingo from time to time, my confidence was a little knocked when the classes we’re exactly what I’d been looking for.
Is/are there word(s) you always misspell?
As a journalist, I always try to have near perfect grammar and spelling. But you can’t always be perfect, and I’m pretty certain my German spelling leaves a lot to be desired.
Do you have favourite words?
In Irish, saoirse. Not just the name, but the word itself. It means freedom.
In German, Lebensmittel. For want of a better word, it means “the messages” (literal translation: life resources). Which brings me to my favourite English word; food.
What aspects of language interest you?
I love pronunciation. Hearing how letters sound in other languages is mad, isn’t it Ted?
What linguistic category interests you most?
Cases. I got my head around them after a long while with German, and we all know the horror of the Tuiseal Ginideach.
Favourite language teacher?
Ms O Callaghan (later Mrs Barrett, but old habits die hard so to me, she was always Ms O Callaghan, despite having married at the end of my first year), who was my German teacher in secondary school the whole way through, save for the two years she was on maternity. She always took an interest in my continuation of German any time I saw her after I’d left school, and I think she knew from early on that it was a subject I was very interested in.
What does your name mean and what language does it come from?
Native speaker or not, as a teacher?
A non native. I think if a language that’s not your own is something you’re spending your whole life teaching, that’s a true passion. And a student will be able to see that.
Would you like to raise your children bilingual/multilingual? What do you think about teaching young children languages?
I’ve always said I want my kids to be able to speak Irish, and I very much intend to speak to them in Irish as much as I can. This will be made even better if my future husband is not an Irish national/speaker. Who’s up for secret messages?
Do you think one day we’ll only speak English?
I really hope not. I think languages are some of the best things that set us apart culturally and make us who we are.
What is the hardest language to learn, in your opinion?
Any of the oriental Asian ones, like Chinese or Japanese. It’s just a whole new alphabet system and I would struggle with it.
Favourite foreign names?
Eleri (Welsh, feminine, meaning River). Belle (French, feminine, meaning beautiful).