“Dia dhuit a chara” (Hello, my friend)
That was the opening message I received today from my Irish language teacher, Chip Costello. I wrote him to say thank you for his going away gift. At the end of class last night, Chip presented me with a gift he knew I would need. An Irish/English pocket dictionary.
Receiving messages in another language always scares me – because its foreign. Like many Americans, I wish I had been exposed to more languages as a child so I could talk to more people outside of my own community of English speakers.
I sort of freak out, take a breath, and then begin the process of decoding the message using online translators. I was never a strong language learner growing up in either English or later French in high school. I have an auditory processing issue that scrambles the sounds I hear making it difficult for me to decode unfamiliar languages. Its been a very frustrating disability to live with at different points in my life and I’ve given up at times, but I’ve always keep trying even if it’s sort of fragmented.
Chip is a very kind and dear instructor. He cares very much about all his students regardless other their language abilities and opened his class up to me even as a beginner, who signed up one week after the start. Many of the other students in the class have been taking Gaeilge for at least year, and have been encouraged to continue learning the language after traveling to Ireland.
Truthfully, I haven’t been a very good student, and I’m glad its a non-credit course without tests and quizzes. Due to work and preparation for my trip I haven’t kept up with my homework assignments. How is a teacher supposed to help a student that doesn’t prepare for class?
I explained to “mo mhúinteoir” (my teacher) that my goal was to become familiar with the sound of the language and hopefully be able to order from a menu. With just eight weeks of class time under my belt, or 14 hours, I delighted it’s beginning to make sense. With notes in front of me, I can sort of construct a sentence in Gaeilge out loud.
In mo mhúinteoir message to me today he went on to say:
“Bain súp as do thuras! Tabhair dúinn an scéal iomlán nuair atá tú ar ais. Go n-éirí an bóthar leat. Le gach deá-ghuí, Chip.” Which translates to: “I hope you enjoy your trip. Give us the full story when you return. Good luck on the road. Best wishes, Chip.”
I’m looking forward to seeing how my enthusiasm will soar for the language after I return from Ireland.