IRISH is the fastest-growing language on learning app DuoLingo, with over a million weekly learners worldwide.
DuoLingo, which has over half a billion app downloads worldwide, listed Irish as the 16th most popular language for English speakers to learn. It is also the top language studied by users in Ireland, and the fastest-growing option for learners in the world.
Once spoken across the island, the Irish language significantly declined under British occupation in the 18th century as English became widespread in Ireland. In 2016, 1.7 million Irish citizens said they spoke the language on the national census, though only 73,000 said they spoke it on a daily basis. It is only used regularly in Gaeltacht areas, mostly concentrated on Ireland’s rural West Coast.
Noah Higgs, an Irish teacher and consultant for DuoLingo, told RTE that part of the language’s popularity on the app was due to the huge number of Irish diaspora worldwide with an interest in studying their roots. He added that lockdown had given many people in Ireland a chance to brush up on their “Gaeilge”, which is a compulsory exam subject throughout the Irish school system.
For those interested in a quick fix of basic Gaeilge: Dia Duit is hello, Go raibh maith agat is thank you, Slan is goodbye and Eire means Ireland.
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