5 Day Challenge Update: Day 3

Starting to flag a bit now! Yesterday was the third day and I found myself longing to think/speak in English but plodded on in Welsh anyway. Think I am slowly starting to lose my mind because when I’m on my own I’m thinking a mixture of English and Welsh words and then sort of quietly muttering things in Welsh!

  • In the morning I went to a Welsh coffee morning with my childminder’s husband. Well it was sold to me as a coffee morning but when I actually turned up to the beautiful Sherman theatre, it turned out to be a full-on Welsh lesson. There were 8 other learners there, all lovely retired people who had clearly been learning Welsh for AGES and they were brilliant at it. They were very warm and welcoming towards me, there was lots of conversation built around some photocopied bits of news the tutor had brought along. Then we learned some new words and tried to fit them into sentences. Tricky words I wouldn’t use that often in English to be honest, like ‘unanimous’ and ‘small-minded’. That was fun but tricky! Then we had a group challenge to come up with words beginning with ‘D’ in different categories, like: ‘things in the sky’ or ‘clothing’. That was surprisingly difficult too!
    This was my first ever formal Welsh lesson and made me realise how much I don’t know. For example, the others in the group were very careful and particular with their mutations, whereas I have taken the SSIW advice to heart and don’t worry about them at all. I just guess what sounds right and go for it. Sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m not but as long as people understand me, I’m happy. However, I could see some of the others visibly flinching when I got it wrong! This made me feel a bit less confident just to have a go. All-in-all though, the experience was good and it’s a shame I won’t be able to go regularly in future because of work.

  • After the coffee morning/lesson I came home and listened to another three SSIW lessons whilst finishing decorating my son’s bedroom. I enjoyed those and the room is finished now so success all round!

  • In the afternoon my friend Rhian came over. The plan was that we would play Welsh Scrabble but that all went a bit wrong when she was running late so we ended up having to meet after school with her two boys and my two boys and Scrabble just wasn’t possible in that chaotic environment. Instead, we had…you’ve guessed it…more coffee and cake! It was brilliant talking to Rhian because despite her being first-language Welsh and knowing her for a few years now, I have never really tried speaking Welsh to her before. I guess it was because I thought maybe she’d find it frustrating waiting for me to find my words or not knowing what she could say to me that I would understand. Anyway, it was great. We understood each other perfectly and she said she couldn’t believe that I was able to talk for two hours with no English! I felt more motivated again then! She thinks I should get a ‘Siarad Cymraeg’ badge or lanyard for work so that patients and other staff know they can speak to me in Welsh. I definitely will, although might look for one with ‘learner’ on it so people know not to expect a fluent Welsh speaker.

  • When my husband came home, we had dinner in Welsh but after the boys went to bed I must admit we were both struggling trying to talk about the news and politics and finer details of our day so we switched into English for the last half hour of the day. And I felt MEGA guilty about it!

  • Listened to Radio Cymru a lot again, got really involved in a discussion about finding head teachers for Welsh schools and the pros and cons of all Welsh or mixed Welsh/English schools. I was very frustrated because I was interested in the subject but couldn’t really follow the details as I didn’t understand all the words.

Summary of the day: Full-On! Starting to feel really tired. Only two days left now. Today, my neighbour’s Dad, a retired teacher who teaches Welsh evening classes now, is coming over to do some stuff with me. And later, some more friends and school mums (including Victoria from Monday) are coming round for coffee and conversation.
Despite my brain hurting today I must say I feel so well supported by everyone I know. I have been receiving loads of emails and text messages of encouragement from friends and am very touched by the messages on this forum. Thanks all. :grinning:


Completely forgot to mention my Bobsled challenge for yesterday, it’s a really tough one! I have to record myself speaking for three minutes and then count all my mistakes then post it on here to see if anyone else can spot even more mistakes! I’m terrified to do this but will give it a go. Need to get the software and might need some help uploading it (not good at computer stuff) but will definitely do it today, eek!


Eeek! I’m sure everyone will be kind though. I know I’m very impressed with what you’re doing.

You’re doing really well - keep it up!


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Wow, congratulations! Just caught up on your amazing few days - what a great achievement, and good luck for the rest of the week!!

Oh and that is an interesting and slightly unexpected challenge - will also be a very interesting exercise and a bit of a leg up to taking it to the next level I guess.

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Excellent! That means it’s time to push on through - because you’re now getting absolutely maximum value out of your efforts. Learning and producing when you’re tired is HUGELY valuable… :star: :star2: I’d say it pretty much counts double from here on in…:slight_smile:

Your attitude is the one that wins! People flinching? Nine times out of ten, they’ll be learners, who have spent too much time worrying about the damned things to relax. The vast majority of first language speakers play very fast and loose with mutations - and some of them don’t even really know they exist. Seriously - I’ll never forget a chat with a friend in a pub, over a game of pool - he asked how it was all going, and I said fine, apart from the mutations - he said ‘the what?’

And he wasn’t joking. I said ‘You know his car is ei gar, yeah? And her car is ei char? Those are mutations.’

‘Oh, right.’

Skip worrying about them, or you’ll just end up mutating too correctly, and needing to learn how to un-bother when you want to sound like a natural speaker (clue: don’t go into any Pwllheli caffis and ask for a brechdan ‘caws a thiwna’)… :slight_smile:

[Also worth listening to Meinir Gwilym’s classic ‘Dybl Jin a Tonic’…]

You have no idea what a gigantic achievement this is. For some time now, I’ve been seeing the two hour marker as particularly important - I think by that stage you’re getting real neurological shift, even just during that one conversation - so you should be hugely, hugely proud of this. If you can do two hours, you can do forever - seriously.

Two days left? Oh, no way. This is the beginning of the rest of your life, Ceri… :star: :star2: :thumbsup:

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Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I totally agree about the mutations. It has also been my experience that native Welsh speakers seem far more relaxed about them. Anyway, here is the link to my bobsled challenge. I hope it works. I struggled a bit with the whole Soundcloud thing. Also I didn’t count my mistakes because I couldn’t bear to listen to myself! If anyone listens to it, please be kind!


Blooming 'eck @cerilynch - ardderchog ++++++++

Kudos to you for doing it. I didn’t try to count your mistakes tbh. I was too busy thinking that you are brave to be doing this.

Actually, it was a good way to practice my listening skills as you weren’t talking too fast. This could be another way for people to practise on here.

Out of curiosity, when were you on the medicine course in Cardiff? I graduated in 2009 (having intercalated) and did my F1 jobs in UHW. (Edit: seriously hope I understood you correctly, otherwise I’m going to look a bit twp!)


Magnificent @cerilynch!


Hi Kimberley! You understood me perfectly (good for both of us!) I graduated in 2003 and have been working in various hospitals in South Wales since then. We may have crossed paths at some point! Are you still around here? Thanks for the feedback xx

I am indeed. I’m an academic psychiatry trainee doing my PhD in the MRC Centre at Cardiff University (I may as well be specific since it’s easy enough for people to find this information on the university website!). I was a core medical trainee before this though so I’ve been all around the shop.

Hope the rest of bobsled goes well. Is it 5 days? Nearly there xx

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Last day tomorrow! I’ve just finished my training (anaesthetics and ITU) and am taking a few weeks off before starting my consultant job in Royal Glamorgan, hence the unique opportunity to blitz the Welsh learning! Will keep an eye out for you at any academic events. Hopefully I’ll be wearing a ‘Siarad Cymraeg’ lanyard!

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Oooooo cool. I did CMT2 there. Good luck for the new job!


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Well done!

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Wow! This sounds brilliant! I think you made fewer mistakes than I do on a regular basis (and I’m supposed to be ‘fluent’ now … whatever that means).

The only mistake I picked up on, since you asked, was ‘dau plant’, when I think you’d want ‘dau o blant’. But that’s a really picky criticism and I only noticed it because I was deliberately looking for things to mention. I don’t think I’d have even noticed if we were just having a chat. It certainly didn’t stop me understanding what you were saying.

Da iawn wir!


Absolutely superb, Ceri. So it turns out you’re a Welsh speaker!

Now, if you ask a conversationally fluent speaker to listen to that and pick out ‘errors’, you might be able to track down a dozen or so - but not ONE of them impinges on understanding.

If I’d listened to that without having been primed to look for errors, I think there’s probably only about one or two I would have noticed. With my ‘marker’ hat on, I’d also pick up on a handful like ‘a wedyn’ instead of ‘ac wedyn’ - but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Catrin and myself say ‘a wedyn’ in the Growth Club recordings!

Interestingly, I didn’t pick up on ‘dau blant’ - which probably means that my brain just filled it in as ‘dau o blant’, which is normal.

Seriously, Ceri - you’ve got this. It’s just about choosing what parts of your life you want to happen in Welsh from here on in… :thumbsup: :star2:


Da iawn ti! That was brilliant! I thought it sounded very smooth and comfortable, and I understood everything (which says much more about you than me - still learning here, nowhere near fluent). You should be SO proud of yourself! :slight_smile: :star:


Da iawn . You sound so relaxed and natural when speaking Welsh . Something for me to aspire to. You have a good radio voice . Future Radio Cymru presenter maybe ? :wink:


Wow thanks everyone! Blown away by that feedback! :grin: