A Kentishman's Welsh Conquest - June Bootcamp

My progress report - Summer 2014
Since my last report, I have:
• Reached halfway through Course 3 (old course)
• Reached halfway through Level 1 (new course - thanks to the new challenge 12 recently published!). And…
• Completed my first bootcamp in Tresaith

Before I went to bootcamp, I completed lesson 10 of course 3 and challenge 11 of level 1, and In preparation for bootcamp I also ran through the 3 bootcamp vocab units from course 1 and the last lesson of each completed course/vocab sets.

Bootcamp was a wonderful experience. Getting through the week using only Welsh isn’t easy when you’re not used to using the language all the time, but through the week you discover ways to get through, you begin to realise just how much Welsh you really know - which can be a lot more than you think. You also pick up new words and patterns that you hear from your fellow bootcampers too, which only adds to the improvement to your Welsh. And, you make mistakes - which I did a few times, only to pick up on them after reviewing what I said after saying it! With all the challenges, the opportunities to use your Welsh in the wild, the support from your fellow bootcampers (who were ALL lovely!) and of course, our hosts for the week Iestyn and Cat, makes for a fantastic week in one of the nicest coastal villages in West Wales.

Reflecting back on the week in Tresaith, I have realised that whenever I was in conversation, to begin with, I would have thought out what I want to say and would try to say it at normal speed - This is where I will be most likely to make mistakes. Then I’m responding to a reply from the person I’m conversing with and my speech speed slows down while I’m thinking about my own reply, all while I am actually replying - again, this is where I’m more likely to make mistakes. The conclusion I came to was that I still don’t practice in conversation anywhere near as much as I would like to (this being down to work commitments and lack of personal freetime at home). It’s an obstacle I will overcome with time. I know there are plenty of options to practice through Skype and Google Hangouts, and I will one day use these when I get the freetime where I can practice without being disturbed! I still meet with Kim (dinas) every month in Rochester. These meetings are valuable practice times for me, only getting better with more people turning up to the meets each month. On average, there are 3-4 of us at these meets every month now, with 5 being the most attended so far!

After bootcamp, I stayed in Wales for 3 more days to see family and friends, but still took opportunities to practice using my Welsh in this time. On the Sunday evening I met up with Owain and Tricia at The Brunswick Arms in Abertawe, for what turned out to be their last ever Sunday meeting there. It was great to catch up with them though, and talk was mainly about my week on Bootcamp. I also visited Siop Tŷ Tawe on the Tuesday. I bought myself a book and Scrabble yn Gymraeg (after playing the game a couple of times at bootcamp). The entire transaction was made in Welsh, from the minute I walked in to when I left. I was there for 5 minutes, but I was very proud of myself for not reverting to English for even a single word!

So, I’m now back home, back at work, and back to my lessons again. In the past week and a half, I’ve completed 2 lessons on course 3 and currently doing lesson 13. I have also completed challenge 12 on the new course too. I’m following the new course as a means of extra practice and a kind of refresher of what I’ve already learned, with some new material, different takes on what I know and practice of what I’m learning now since some of the new stuff I’m learning in course 3 is making an appearance in the new course too! I am finding the lessons easier to take in now. I am starting to understand more Welsh now too - especially on the radio. The new listening practices are also helping wonders with my understanding of spoken Welsh. I just need to tackle the speaking (in conversation) element and I’m pretty much there!

I would like to be much improved on my speaking by next year. I am hoping to be able to attend another bootcamp next year, where I will also be hoping to be more confident and more conversational than I was this year. This year, I spent much of bootcamp absorbing the experience and was probably the quietest one there. Not to say I didn’t join in conversations or enjoy the experience - I loved it! My fellow bootcampers were all brilliant speakers - even those who had only completed the first course! We all took something from the experience which I know will push us all forward towards the goals we want to achieve with our Welsh and we all got a taste of true Welsh culture in some of the most picturesque villages you could ever wish to visit, and all in the medium of Welsh.

I would like to thank Iestyn and Cat for making this experience all the more pleasant for us, and to their wonderful children who kept us all in check when we uttered the odd accidental word in Saesneg!

July Bootcampers - you’re in for a great week! :smile:

Thanks very much for giving such a full progress report Gavin. I always find it’s such a boost when people tell us how they’re getting on and what they’re working on. It seems to me that a lot of us are at a pretty similar stage and facing similar problems. Great to hear how you’re working through them.

Thanks again.

Awesome progress - da iawn! And it’s such a pleasure to read progress reports when you can finally attach a face/personality to the name :slight_smile:

Great report, Gavin!!! Very soon you’ll have the joy when you suddenly realise your conversing without having to go through a conscious thinking process…and, if your like me - be totally unaware of any mistakes you make…LOL!

Enjoyed reading that, Gavin. Glad to hear things are going so well for you. Llongyfarchiadau, a dal ati! :slight_smile:

Great to read Gavin, really enjoyed reading how you got on.

It’s always good to hear what bootcampers were feeling during the week. “All the others spoke better than me”, “I was the quietest there” etc are common feelings, and almost totally false! Of course there is always someone who has spoken a little less than anyone else by the end of the week, and by definition, someon has to start the week, or finish the week with Welsh that is slightly weaker than anyone else. About half the bootcampers think it was them!

So, thanks for your company, Gav - it’s always such a pleasure to see people throuw themselves into the experience, and get so much out of it.