Hundreds of Thousands of pupils have studied Irish in the National Schools in the past twenty years. How many of them have become Irish speakers? Very few, unfortunately. The failure of the schools to make Irish speakers is due largely to the want of suitable text books. Most of the books prescribed by the National Board for the third standard—that is the first year's course of Irish as an "extra subject"—are made up of artificial sentences which ignore the simplest words and commonest constructions of living Irish speech.
The lessons in this book contain no phrase that would net be heard in an Irish-speaking community in West Munster. They associate the language with objects and living ideas and they are so constructed as to obviate altogether the necessity for translation. The teacher using this book will find it profitable to explain in English to English-speaking learners the more difficult constructions that occur in the lessons, but it should never be necessary to translate the words or phrases in the lessons. The aim should be to make the student think in Irish from the start. This can easily be done with all the sentences in the book, and once the student has acquired the habit of thinking in Irish in the simpler forms of the language he will bring this habit with him when he comes to deal with the more complex forms of Irish speech. Dictation should be begun after the students have gone over the book for the first time.
The use of a phonetic transcription is now universally recognised as absolutely essential in the first stages of the study of French, English or Irish by non-native speakers, owing to the fact that the ordinary spelling of these languages is so different from the pronunciation. This book can also be obtained in phonetic spelling. The lessons are identical in the two editions of the book.