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LIVING IN IRELAND: An Integration Website for Migrants living in Ireland

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Learning English

Where can I learn English in Ireland?

If you would like to attend an English language course there are a number of different options available:

  • Education and Training Boards Ireland usually offer courses in English as a second language: www.etbi.ie
  • You can also check for private courses with the Advisory Council for English Language Schools: www.acels.ie
  • Local community groups sometimes offer free English language classes

You can also:

  • Attend a conversation exchange at your local library: www.askaboutireland.ie
  • Place your own advertisement looking for someone to take part in a language exchange. A good place to put the ad is in the local library or on university or college notice boards.

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English Lessons

These lessons are a basic introduction to the English language. Each lesson consists of vocabulary and sometimes a short dialogue. You can use the dialogues to practise your listening skills. English is generally spoken at a fast speed in Ireland so it may take a little while to get used to this.

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Lesson A: Answering the telephone

Vocabulary:

'Can I speak to Paul please?

To be in

To leave a message

To take a message

To call back

To call you back

To pass a message on

Wrong number

Dialogue 1:

Mary: Hello

John: Hello. 'Can I speak to Paul, please?

Mary: Sorry he is not in. Can I take a message?

John: Yes. This is John. Please tell him to call me back. My number is 086 1234567.

Mary: I will pass your message on.

John: Thank you.

Mary: You’re welcome.

John: Good bye.

Mary: Good bye.

Dialogue 2:

Mary: Hello

John: Hello. 'Can I speak to Mr. O’Connor, please?

Mary: Mr. O’Connor is not here at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?

John: Yes, please. Could you tell him that John called and I will call him back tomorrow?

Mary: I will tell him.

John: Thank you.

Mary: You’re welcome.

John: Good bye.

Mary: Good bye.

Dialogue 3:

Mary: Hello

John: Hello. 'Can I speak to Patrick please?

Mary: Sorry you have the wrong number. There is no Patrick here.

John: I’m sorry.

Mary: No problem.

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Lesson B: Opening a bank account

Vocabulary:

To open a bank account

Photo ID

To fill in a form

Passport

Proof of your address

Bill

Please sign here

Dialogue 1:

Mary: I would like to open a bank account please.

Bank official: Certainly. Please fill in this form. Do you have photo ID with you?

Mary: Yes. I have my passport.

Bank official: Do you have proof of your address?

Mary: Yes I have an ESB bill.

Bank official: Great. I’m going to photocopy these documents. Please sign here. Your account will be active in 24 hours.

Mary: Thank you.

Bank official: You’re welcome.

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Lesson C: Asking for a bank draft

Vocabulary:

Bank draft

How can I help you?

Who is the bank draft for?

To pay by cash

To debit your account

Dialogue 1:

Mary: Hello.

Bank official: How can I help you?

Mary: I would like a bank draft for €1000 please

Bank official: Who is the bank draft for?

Mary: The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Bank official: Would you like to pay by cash?

Mary: Yes please.

Bank official: Here is your bank draft.

Mary: Thank you.

Bank official: You’re welcome.

Mary: Good bye

Bank official: Good bye.

Dialogue 2:

Mary: Hello.

Bank official: How can I help you?

Mary: I would like a bank draft for €250 please

Bank official: Would you like to debit your account for this amount?

Mary: Yes please.

Bank official: Here is your bank draft.

Mary: Thank you.

Bank official: You’re welcome.

Mary: Good bye

Bank official: Good bye.

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Lesson D: Going to the post office

Vocabulary:

To send/post

Stamp

Registered post

Express post

Envelope

Parcel

Package

Receipt

To fill in a form

Valuable

Change

Letter

Dialogue 1:

Mary: I want to send this envelope by express post?

Post office official: Please fill in this form.

Mary: There you go.

Post office official: €4.00 please.

Mary: There you go.

Post office official: And your change.

Mary: Thank you.

Dialogue 2:

Mary: I want to send this by registered post please?

Post office official: Is there anything valuable in this parcel?

Mary: No

Post office official: €5.25, please.

Mary: There you go.

Post office official: Here is your receipt.

Mary: Thank you. Good bye.

Post office official: You’re welcome. Good bye.

Dialogue 3:

Mary: Hello.

Post office official: Hello. How can I help you?

Mary: I would like to send this letter to the United Kingdom.

Post office official: 82 cent, please. Here is your change.

Mary: Thank you.

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Lesson E: Filling in forms

Vocabulary:

What is your full name?

What is your address?

Please provide details of ALL your previous addresses starting with the most recent one

What is your telephone number?

What is your date of birth?

What country were you born in?

What is your nationality?

Date of arrival in Ireland?

Why did you come to Ireland?

Are you? Single

Married

Separated

Widowed

Cohabiting

Divorced

Are you: Employed

Retired

Studying

Unemployed

Other

General forms which people fill in are: the Habitual Residence Condition form (HRC1), Child Benefit form (CB1) and the citizenship form (Form 8 – Application for naturalisation as an Irish citizen)

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Abbreviations

Sending text messages or texting is very popular. Here are a few common abbreviations that you will see in text messages:

Abbreviation

Meaning

Brb

Be right back

Btw

by the way

Cos

Because

Cu

See you

Defo

Definitely

Fyi

For your information

Gr8

Great

L8r

Later

Lol

Laugh out loud

Msg

Message

Ppl

People

Ttyl

Talk to you later

Txt

Text

Tmrw / 2moro

Tomorrow

U

You

Ur

Your

Wot

what

Wud

Would

2day

Today

2nite

Tonight

4get

Forget

4u

For you

It is also common for people to use smileys/emoticons. The most common ones are:

Smiley/Emoticon

Meaning

:-)

Smiling

:-(

Sad

;-)

Winking

:-D

Laugh or grin

:O

Shocked

:-P

Sticking tongue out

Other abbreviations include:

Abbreviation

Meaning

ASAP

As soon as possible

DOB

Date of birth

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Hiberno-English

The Irish language influences how English is spoken in Ireland. Hiberno-English or Irish-English is similar to the English spoken in the United Kingdom but has its own unique features. Within Irish-English there are regional variations and accents. Below are the most common examples (with meanings) which you will hear in everyday conversations:

Common Words and Expressions

  • Sorry is used to say I’m sorry and also to say Excuse me. For example people would say, ‘Sorry do you have the time’ instead of ‘Excuse me do you have the time?’
  • I’m after doing my homework means ‘I have done my homework’
  • Come here means ‘listen to this’ or ‘I have something to tell you’
  • Amn’t means ‘am not’, for example, ‘Amn’t I right?’
  • Yer man or yer wan/one means ‘your man’ or ‘your woman’. Used to refer to someone whose name you do not know, for example, ‘Yer man in the shop said it would cost €20’.
  • Ye, Yis, Yous – you (plural), for example, ‘What are yous doing?’
  • Yoke – ‘a thing’ for example, ‘what did you do with that yoke?’
  • Class/classic – excellent, for example, ‘That book is class’
  • Deadly – brilliant, for example, ‘The party was deadly’
  • Eejit – idiot, for example, ‘You’re an awful eejit’
  • Fair play – well done, for example, ‘Fair play to you’
  • Gas – funny, for example, ‘That’s gas’
  • Minerals – soft drink, fizzy drink, soda, for example ‘would you like a mineral?’
  • Scoop – used to describe an alcoholic drink, for example, ‘are you going for a few scoops?’
  • Thanks a million – common way of saying thank you.
  • Grand – fine, well, for example, ‘how are you? – I’m grand’.
  • Do – Event or party, for example, ‘We are having a do on Friday you should come along’.
  • Brilliant -– great, fantastic
  • What’s the story? – How are things? What’s going on?
  • Fag – cigarette, for example ‘I need a fag’
  • Gosh – to express surprise, for example, ‘Gosh, I didn’t know that’
  • Feck – to throw, go away, for example, ‘Feck that in the bin’ or ‘Feck off!’
  • Scumbag – used to describe a nasty person, for example, ‘He is a total scumbag’
  • Tipple, poison – alcoholic drink, for example, ‘What’s your poison/tipple?’
  • Jesus, Mary and Joseph – common phrase to express surprise or frustration
  • Jaysus – Jesus, also used to express surprise or frustration
  • To give out – to tell someone off, for example, ‘She gave out to him for not cleaning the house’
  • Janey mac! – used to express surprise or amazement
  • Banger – slang word used to describe an old car, for example, ‘Are you still driving that banger?’
  • Loo – toilet, for example, ‘Where’s the loo?’
  • Leg it – to run away, for example ‘Let’s get out of here, leg it!’
  • Grub – food, for example ‘Is there any grub in the house?’

Pronunciation

  • Th at the start of a word is not always pronounced clearly, for example, the can sound like de.

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Introduction to the Irish language

Irish (Gaeilge) is one of the official languages in Ireland. While most Irish people do not speak the language on a daily basis, it is still an important part of Irish identity. You will see and hear Irish words and sayings in many different places, for example, most road and street signs are bilingual.

street sign

In March every year, Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish week) takes place. It highlights and promotes the importance of the Irish language. For more information in English and Irish see: www.snag.ie

Family names in Irish

A man’s surname generally takes the form of Ó or Mac and a woman’s surname generally take the form of Ní or Nic, for example:

Patrick Byrne = Padraig Ó’Broin

Mary Byrne = Máire Ní Broin

John Fitzgerald = Seán Mac Gearailt

Anne Fitzgerald = Áine Nic Gearailt

In Irish families, one son is generally given the same first name as his father. To differentiate between father and son the word óg (young) is sometimes used, for example, Seán would be the father and Seán Óg would be the son.

Greetings

Here are some common greetings in Irish:

Common Irish language words and expressions

The following are words from the Irish language which are used instead of the English version:

  • Bualadh bos – applause, to clap hands, for example, ‘Bualadh bos for Mary’
  • Craic – fun, a good time, chat, for example, ‘That was great craic’, ‘what’s the craic?’
  • Garda – police officer (Gardaí – plural)
  • Garda Síochána – police service (literally: guardians of the peace)
  • Sláinte – Irish word for health. Used as a toast when drinking. It has a similar meaning to ‘cheers’
  • Mná – women
  • Fir – Men
  • Nuacht – news
  • Taoiseach – leader, ruler, prime minister
  • Tánaiste – deputy prime minister
  • Uachtarán na hÉireann – President of Ireland
  • Áras an Uachtaráin – the official residence of the President of Ireland
  • LUAS – speed (and also the name of the light rail service in Dublin)
  • Slán – goodbye

Place names

I would like to start learning Irish. Where can I get information on this?

The following organisations provide Irish language classes:

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A Brief History of the Irish Language

While English is the language most spoken by the majority of Irish people, Irish or Gaeilge is the First Official Language of the Republic of Ireland and it is an official language of the European Union. Although once spoken commonly across the island of Ireland, nowadays it is generally spoken in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking areas).

Irish originally stems from Celtic language and so is likely to have been introduced to Ireland at the time of the arrival of Celts in Ireland. Following conquests and plantations from Britain in the 16th and 17th century the status of Irish was seriously undermined. However, through the 1700s and into the 1800s Irish was the language of the majority of the rural population.

The Great Famine and the introduction of a primary education system where Irish was banned further weakened the status of Irish. The language appeared to be on the point of extinction, but a vigorous restoration movement helped to prevent such a fate.

The Gaelic League, or in Irish, Conradh na Gaeilge, established in 1893, successfully turned support for Irish into a mass movement. With the establishment of the Free State in 1922 some attempts were made to re-establish Irish as the dominant language. However, English was widely used at this time and state institutions continued to operate through English so Irish remained a secondary language.

Support for the Irish language has grown again in more recent years. There is an Irish radio station (Radio na Gaeltachta) which was established in 1972 and an Irish language television station (TG4 – TG ceathair) which was established in 1994. For more information on the Irish language go to the bi-lingual website www.gaeilge.ie

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Gaeltacht

What is the Gaeltacht?

Gaeltacht is the Irish word meaning ‘Irish speaking region’. The Gaeltacht consists of areas in Ireland where Irish is still spoken as the community language. The Gaeltacht covers large parts of counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Kerry and also parts of counties Cork, Meath and Waterford.

Where can I get more information about the Gaeltacht?

Údarás na Gaeltachta was established in 1980 and is the regional authority responsible for the economic, social and cultural development of the Gaeltacht: www.udaras.ie

Na Forbacha, Co. Galway
Telephone: 091 503100
Email: eolas@udaras.ie

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Supported by

This project is co-financed by the European Commission under the European Integration Fund and is supported by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in the Dept of Justice & Equality & Pobal.