A kind of pivot - or added direction - for SSiW - what do you think?

Iestyn and I have been chatting about a kind of pivot for SSiW - and we’d love to hear what you think about it before we start to put the building blocks in place.

Up until now, we’ve thought of ourselves as a language teaching company. Clearly, this has gone okay with Welsh - but we’ve made no real headway with Spanish, despite an insane amount of different attempts.

We’re now slowly rolling out a ‘have it for free’ approach to Spanish on Facebook, hoping that will help us build an audience for intensive Spanish courses - and it’s got me thinking…

For a long time, I’ve been wanting to do more for our ‘finished it all’ students - because I know that however well they’re doing, very few students get to the end of Course 3 (or what’s available of Level 3) and feel that they’ve finished.

So far, this has been constrained by resources - we’ve been plugging away at Level 3, and I want to build the dialogue approach to the first 4000 words after that - but it struck me that maybe we could be doing more helpful stuff even now, before finishing the a->z learning journey.

For example, we could find out how much it would cost to get someone to record a 30 minute conversation (and provide a transcript and translation) each month… and provide it at normal and 2x and 3x speed…

But also…

We could start sponsoring (via prizes) the production of content in Welsh… so we could offer a monthly prize for the best short story submitted to us…

Or a monthly prize for the best song… poem… play… short film…

And then we separate the lessons from the listening exercises/content…

So for Spanish right now, and other languages next year (SSiBorg willing!), if we give all the lessons away and then have valuable extra stuff for listening/wider practice - we sort of move in the direction of being a media company which teaches languages for free in order to build an audience for the media content (and which helps generate more media content in smaller languages).

Which feels right, somehow…

What do you think? :slight_smile:


I think any innovative idea to catch the eye of potential learners, and keep existing ones inspired and active with their learning or use of their language is worth a shot.

At the moment, I’m currently working on a website (which I started years ago, and at a stage where it is evolving into something much bigger) that groups the very best free and low-cost materials on the Internet to help people learn Welsh. The evolved part of this site is that I’m now working on the same thing for Irish and Cornish, with the view of absorbing all Celtic Languages in the near future.
Last weekend, I took a bold step in taking these sites off my personal website and placing them into their own site, where I’m hoping it will cater for all Celtic Languages in one place. The site isn’t looking to replace anything that is out there already - quite the opposite in fact. I want the site to actually share what’s out there to anyone interested in this particular subject. Of course, SaySomethinginWelsh features heavily through the Welsh site, since I feel this idea would never have come about if it wasn’t for SSiW.
It is still a work in progress though, which only gets worked on in what little free time I get. It is currently funded by myself, with the view that I may decide to use advertising as a way of just funding the site costs in future, but for now it’s just a labour of love and a way of practicing what HTML and CSS skills I still remember!

As for your idea, I think you should give it a go and see what results you get from it. I’m sure more and more ideas will come about - even from this one, which will propell SSi beyond where you think possible now.


Hmm, your lessons are totally groundbreaking and pretty unique. And they work amazingly well. (Even if the formula is possibly still evolving to the absolute optimal recommendations. - Runs and hides under a stone! :confounded:)

My first reaction was that there is so much content out there already, it may be a dilution of your strengths to be actually producing large amounts of media content. Have you thought about a simpler role of curating suitable resources, together with giving learners a helping hand?

Or partly as a community project? At the simplest level, something like people adding a video or podcast to say a Padlet, together with pointers of things that they have found useful or learned from it - some vocab or a bit of transcript.

That’s just off the cuff - I don’t know about copyright implications. Anyone can curate a collection of web resources of course, but if you were publicly speeding them up I guess it would be different. I wonder if there could be any chance of an agreement even, with S4C or CymruFyw?

I have often, often listened to something on the radio and thought that if I was less lazy / had more time, it would be more efficient learning to go back to the recording and collate a few key phrases or vocab. I’ve very occasionally got involving in working on transcribing radio programmes together with other learners on the forum, which was very useful and fun. I think there could be an appitite for some collaborative learning in the community.

Sorry if that’s a bit of a negative reation to the idea or seems off the point!

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No, not at all - helpful as ever :slight_smile: - maybe I haven’t made it clear enough that a huge part of this is to fill in the gap I see in terms of learner-friendly-content - so content + transcripts, translations, etc - of which I see not all that much for smaller languages… :slight_smile:

But you’re right, it wouldn’t be about us producing - but about us triggering more production by offering prizes/payment that doesn’t otherwise exist in great amounts for Welsh and other small languages… :slight_smile:

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SSi is teaching through listening and speaking and it’s its trademark but when you do it all (well I didn’t yet but I don’t even rush myself) there is a gap inbetween listening/speaking and writing. I recall once there (on this forum and if I’m correct even by you @aran) was once floating an idea of doing some simple exercises for developing writing skills, and with that I don’t mean to be a poet or prosist but rather just being able to write properly because those who stick to agenda of “no writing” or “no reading” rule even when they finish the material they can’t quite write properly. There are few who wouldn’t be able to write though, I believe, however the best poem, prose or whatever, requires writing and maybe we’d be more successful if we’d provide some (small) amount of learning these skills too.

I for myself know, that I’ve written so many things elswhere already in Welsh too, but I still have to check spelling many times especially as many words are so very similar when you hear them being spoken. I know people who are advanced enough in learning search for their own resources in order to learn to write, but wouldn’t you be in at least slight advantage if you’d provide this in your own “house” rather than seing people cruising around searching for the materials? Those who are really advanced will of course do that anyway but having some of resources in the offer of your own company might “hold” some of those who otherwise (maybe) turned away from SSi (in learning matter) because here’s nothing more for them to learn.

Well, it’s just a thought though which might not comply with what you had in mind, but anyway.

Oh, and, yes, I agree with @netmouse. The some sort of collaboration with S4C or BBC Radio Cymru might be very helpful for the company and for the language.

And, it might be in the media world, it would be easier to do things than in educational one.


Yes, I think what we’re talking about here - a wide variety of extra materials - will be a real help for the step from audio to understanding the written language as well… :slight_smile:


As someone who is unlikely to have much chance to speak very much to mother tongue speakers of Cymraeg - and a lot of people may be in that position, not just the aged with damaged lungs,writing and reading is probably more useful than being able to understand double and triple speed. I am going back to old course because the fast bits of 3.01 onwards are too quick for my aged ears. So I agree with @tatjana, please do some reading and writing practice, with sound at normal speed!


All sounds good to me, Aran. I guess the trick in general, not just SSi, but for the world at large is how to fund a business based on the internet. Having said that, a few notable players have done very well.


Some thoughts:

I think he first one is that SSIWelsh is really succesful as a language teaching company with, dare I say it, an almost evangelical following. I think you have the Welsh bit bang on, so how about splitting everything else off into a media type entity with free lessons leaving the existing SSIW formulae to grow and develop, It has its own legs and it will evolve.

I understand the idea that a bigger language would be a good ‘earner’ but the market is quite full of traditional learning materials and it is always going to be hard to make the ‘breakthrough’. Therefore does the SSIW model lend itself more to smaller languages like gaelic, Manx etc where you have a better chance of building a ‘following’?

Lastly, and this is personnel thing, but I would see any extra ‘paid for’ content as stuff to do once I have finished all the levels.


As someone who has completed everything available (a few times, yes I am that sad) and is chomping at the bit when the new stuff comes it (Imagine throwing raw meat at a pack of Rottweilers in a scrapyard - this is what happens when new Southern lessons pop out!)

Anything you put out that enrichens the learning experience is going to be highly sought after by me. Whether that comes in the form of more listening exercises, some basic writing stuff, real life chat recordings (I’d love to hear interview type chats - i.e non scripted chats, that are then transcribed later).

Anything that keeps everything fresh and nice is always appreciated. :slight_smile:


I very much like this idea.

Yes, I like this too.

But something I’ve been wanting for ages is more audiobooks in Welsh. Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot out of audiobooks in other languages (German, Danish, Norwegian), and it almost makes me weep that there are so few available in a rich language like Welsh. And I’m sure there are enough under-employed Welsh-speaking actors out there who could do a very good job of reading them.

I can’t remember if I actually suggested, but I certainly thought of suggesting that Catrin turn her book(s) into audiobook(s) (read by her in that case).

And i seem to remember that long, long ago, there was an ambition for SSiW to generate some way of helping learners learn to read Welsh more effectively. Well, audiobooks could be part of that (or audio-short-stories). I’m sure I’ve mentioned before the so-called listening-reading approach to language learning. There are various ways of approaching it, and I won’t go into pros and cons, but the simplest method (and this is really for advanced learners, which I think is what we are talking about anyway) is to read the actual book (or e-book) while listening to an unabridged audiobook version of it being read by a native speaker.

Listening to recorded spontaneous conversations is an incredibly useful skill to develop. But listening to a piece of writing being read out by a competent native speaker is also an important skill. When we’ve been learning for a good while, we like to think we know how any piece of writing should be pronounced, but there is no substitute for hearing a native speaker reading it. If we hear enough of it, we can eventually conjure up the voice of that person at will, in our heads, and try to imitate it, and improve our own pronunciation. And we can enrich our vocabulary by being exposed to a wider range of language, not that it has to be posh “literary” Welsh, of course.


Thank you very much, everyone - lots of very helpful feedback in there… :slight_smile: :star: :star2:

Yes, audio-short-stories might be more accessible than audiobooks at this stage - and are definitely do-able with this model…

@a_jay - yes, I think it would be most relevant for people who have finished the lessons - although the listening exercises (as they are now) will be useful from an earlier stage… :slight_smile:


I think the current format for the different levels is excellent and I’m really surprised at how many people comment positively about the level of my Welsh. I really wish other subjects were taught this way (for programming, Learn Code the Hard Way comes closest).

Anything additional “out there in the real world” learning material would be fantastic, so long as you keep the format for the existing lessons! People will pay for stuff if they get value from it – possibly try out a pilot media production to see what the uptake is? There are plenty of folk on the forum I’m sure who would spread the word.

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Like like like, great idea!

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That’s great to hear - huge congratulations! :star:

Yes, the existing lessons will definitely remain - this is just about looking further at what we want to achieve for advanced learners, and how we can make a wider contribution to the language as well… :slight_smile:

Looks as though we’re all on the same page for audiobooks/shortstories… :slight_smile:

We’ve got some careful thinking to do about how we present the content… and how we decide which ‘entries’ win prizes… and what the monthly costs will be for new subscribers…

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Yes, this too.

I’ve been thinking that SSi should move in the direction of producing content, along the lines of short audio book and videos for some time, so I’m all for this direction of thinking, and agree that it feels right. But I wasn’t clear on what the business model was - was it shifting from paid lessons to paid content? Your comment above suggests not - can you clarify? Or, to put it more succinctly - sounds great! How ya gonna make money doin’ that?


Sounds great overall.

Do you think there will be enough people interested in contributing? I suppose if the prizes were big enough they could motivate people to contribute. It could be even more sustainable if the kudos alone of contributing was enough to motivate.

What motivates individual vloggers to put stuff on Youtube? Personal promotion, fame, fortune. Could we create an SSi version youtube offering these things to contributors?

But perhaps you were thinking more along the lines of small media companies providing content?

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So, we currently have a one-size-fits-all access model - £3.95 a month, access to all our Welsh stuff.

Based on what we’ve learnt over the last 8 years, I think it’s fair to say that if we’re serious about making a difference in terms of content, then we need to be looking at a higher subscription cost.

So perhaps we go in the direction of:

Level 1 free
Level 2 and beyond - pay per lesson
Listening exercises and content - £x per month.

All existing subscribers keep their subscription at the current price - no forced increases on anyone.

Yes, I think so - I’ve done occasional stuff like this before - and there are a lot of creative people out there and a very small number of paying gigs - so even a modest initial prize pot would get a monthly stream of stuff, and I don’t think it would take all that long before increases to the prize pot would make this a genuinely valuable contribution…:slight_smile:


Would Golwg be interested in supporting this? Or do you think that would be too much to coordinate?

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