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Website offers free lessons as Gaeilge

March 21, 2014

GAEILGE has just gone global.

In honour of St Patrick’s Day, the language-learning website Duolingo has announced that it will include the Irish language on the site. And it has asked Gaelgoirs to come on board and volunteer to help build the new course.

The service is completely free to use, employing a crowd-sourced business model where companies pay to have content translated by contributors.

Duolingo boasts more than 25m users across the world and encourages people to learn a variety of languages via games. Irish Language Commissioner Ronan O Domhnaill has said that the addition of our native language is a good thing.


“The more resources there are for people to learn Irish, the better,” he said. “Anything like this, assuming the standard is correct, will be a welcome development for the language.”

Duolingo is now recruiting contributors for its “incubator” system, which is expected to take months to complete and will require translations for thousands of sentences.

“We need to know as many translations as possible for each sentence, so when learners are asked to translate, we can tell them if their answer is correct,” they said. However, some users reacted negatively to the decision, which one asking: “Can we have something useful like Mandarin Chinese or Russian?” Others were more positive: “I’ll definitely study. I want to know the language of my ancestors.”

Some 77,000 Irish people use the language on a daily basis.