A long and boring post with lots of questions + looking for a skype partner

I’ve just finished Cwrs 2 and it was really really excellent. When I think about it now, I don’t understand why I was so scared of the composite pronouns and the clauses – they all seem so natural now and that’s only because of how good the course is. I’m going to start Course 3 with all my favourite short forms tomorrow, but before that I wanted to ask for some help from the collective consciousness here. I’m very satisfied with my progress but I have a couple of things that are not going so well and I hope maybe someone can help me here:

  1. Pronunciation. Mine is simply terrible. I know quite a lot of words from reading, but I mispronounce them, mostly. Does anyone know a good online dictionary WITH audio files? And what about Ivona – can it be trusted? Are there audiobooks one can listen to?
    I’m also interested in the intonation. Welsh has beautiful intonation patterns – and I have rather monotonous Slavic ones. Are there any good lessons on intonation somewhere online, with the Southern dialect preferably? (probably not, because I’ve searched high and low, but who knows). If not, what can be done about that? If I have the script, I try to repeat words after the speakers in TV-series and textbooks, but that’s pretty much all I can do.

  2. Listening. Again – terrible. Especially when it’s Gog. People from the South, especially Sir Gar, I more or less understand, but I can’t come to Cymru and ignore 70 per cent of the native speakers just because I don’t understand their way of talking. Simply listening until I start understanding doesn’t work – my brain simply decides that it’s “mission:impossible” and switches the listening function off, so I simply hear the lovely Welsh speech as some kind of instrumental music.
    What I plan to do:
    I’m firmly convinced that my poor listening is connected with my terrible pronunciation so I’m going to do exercises from here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtUTjX1NtxhGi1o1NGdk-yA – it’s a channel mostly on Welsh pronunciation and it’s very helpful.
    I’ve started to work through some courses that have audiofiles – the Teach yourself Welsh and Colloquial Welsh – right from the start, so from the first very simply dialogues. I listen and answer some comprehension questions, than I try to read the script and pronounce things after the speakers.
    I also work with the BBC “Ysbyty Brynaber” audio soap (it has scripts so it’s really excellent) and S4C “Rownd a Rownd” – I listen/watch first without the subtitles/script, then I read the script or watch the episode again with the Welsh ones (or the English ones first if I’m really tired) and then I write down all the interesting vocab/structures and practice them. But this is very time consuming and tiring, so after working for 15 minutes like this I simply relax and watch the rest of the episode with the English subs.
    I also watch “Hwb” – mostly because both presenters are beautiful and funny And it’s useful to have some patterns explained to you before you listen to the actual Welsh conversation where these patterns are going to be used.

So, this is roughly what I’m doing/ going to do. What else would you recommend? Are there any other poor souls here with no talent for listening – and how are you coping with that?

  1. I hope that next year (or even this year) the UK embassy will let me visit Cymru, so while I’m there I want to sit for an exam. (don’t ask why a Russian woman wants to have a certificate in Welsh – she doesn’t know herself. Just for personal satisfaction, no other reasons)
    I have been doing the Mynediad and Sylfaen past papers and generally I can understand what is asked of me, and I think I can do the Reading/Listening parts, but I really need someone to assess at least one of my written works and the spoken part – tell me roughly what my level and my problems are, and maybe give me some advice on how to carry on with my studies. I can afford only maybe two sessions – I know it’s ridiculous to hope two sessions will help me, but our salaries here are much different – my lessons cost 6 euros against 20-30 in the UK, so that’s really all I can do. C an anyone recommend a tutor who does such things? (assessment + some advice) I just need a rough evaluation, nothing fancy.

Thanks everyone who has found the time to read at least half of it - and thanks again to all the people who have contributed to creating this courses 


Oh, and I’m looking for a friend:) I have some time in the evenings and I would really love to find someone to speak Welsh with regularly, one-to-one. Someone who’s learning the Northern dialect would be perfect, as I want to practice understanding it. And if you’re preparing to sit for an exam too this would be even better.
I’m very nice, I promise. And I can help with Russian and/or Italian, if you want to:)


I check prononciation of any new (or old) words I’m not absolutely sure about on http://www.gweiadur.com/en/Pawb. You need to register but it’s a great site.

I don’t believe that you have significant prononciation problems if you’ve learnt with SSIW! How much do you concentrate on imitation in the lessons? I really dislike the sound of the French I learnt at school, so when I have learnt languages as an adult, I’ve always put a big effort into copying what I hear until it feels really natural. (Way beyond the point of “knowing” the words intellectually.) Have you tried using pause and repeating phrases, exclusively for their melody and rhythm - almost like practising music?

I sometimes do that kind of thing with podcasts of different people too, when I get round to it. I think just analysing a very small section in detail can really help you get a new handle on listening skills too. But listening in the wild really does just need patience as there’s so much vocabulary involved as well.


Seren, I really can’t believe o gwbl that your pronunciation is terrible - I’m sure it’s many times better than you say! But I’m sure you’re right about the connection between listening/understanding and pronunciation. As it happens I do short spells of work in Venezuela from time to time and I’ve discovered that the only way I’ve been able to start following the Spanish people speak there at all is to try and copy their very strong accent as closely as I can - I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels they need to do this!


This may explain why I pick up accents and get taken as a native when I’m not!!! @seren, don’t try too hard, it is very difficult trying to convince waiters and taxi drivers that you really do not understand something!


I’d recommend doing Level 1 and Level 2 - mainly so that you can start using their accelerated listening exercises - which will also give you the opportunity to listen to the northern versions… :sunny:

Also - I want to see if I can resurrect any of my Italian before our intensive Welsh fortnight with Justin and Eirwen in San Giacomo - so maybe we could do a weekly intercambio between now and then? :sunny:


Yes, I’ve concentrated a lot on pronouncing things the way Iestyn does, and I think I’m ok with what I’ve learned in the lessons - considering my limited abilities. I’m very bad at both listening and pronunciation - have always been, I still have a strong accent in both English and Italian despite years of hard work. But the things is, there are lots of new words that I’ve learned just by reading and I have a feeling that most people don’t understand me because I mispronounce them. Thank you so very much for the link, that will be very helpful!

Thank you for you kind words, @johnwilliams_6, but I tend to be too optimistic about my progress, so when I decide that something’s really terrible it normally is! The connection between pronunciation and listening is indeed very strong, as I have noticed with my students, and sometimes a quick pronunciation course can help people who have already despaired about understanding the spoken English!

One day, I’ll do the same with the Scottish accent:) I just want to be able to understand it.

I definitely will! I’m just very happy with the idea to do a whole course on the short forms now - they sound lovely to me. But I will try to do it as quickly as I can to move on to the levels - everyone’s very happy with the levels and Justin has advertised them to me.

Oh, that would be SO excellent, thank you very much! :sunny:

When would be a good time during the week? Shall we try to set aside two hours, to make it an hour of Welsh and an hour of Italian (by which I mean mostly an hour of me listening to you talk in Italian!)… ?


Whatever is most convenient for you! Is evening or afternoon better? I can do afternoons on most weekdays.:slight_smile:

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I wish I could help you :slight_smile: I’d prefer to learn Northern, but I haven’t really started yet so I wouldn’t be a good conversation partner for you at the moment.

Afternoon definitely better for me - earlier the better, really… :sunny:

I can do anything from 12 am till 14.00 pm on Wednesdays, between 12 and 17.00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and anything between 11 am and 3 pm on Friday:) And Monday is almost free, from 11-00 until 18-00.
I wrote the UK time so we don’t get confused:)

You really were doing fine during the skype session - I, after just one month of learning, was much less eloquent and able to understand others than you yesterday.

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Superb - I was just about to start getting confused…:wink:

How about we do 12 to 2 on Wednesdays, then? :sunny:

[Advance warning - I’ll have to skip the one in a couple of weeks, because I’ll be on Bootcamp!]


Perfect, thank you sooo very much!


I’d say try to listen to as much Radio Cymru as you can, without worrying too much whether you can understand it, and concentrating on the discussion-type programmes, not the music ones.

If listening for too long without understanding much is too much of a strain (and I know that feeling), then try it in short bursts, e.g. 5, 10, 15 minutes at a time. As it sounds like you’ve done a lot of reading and probably have quite a good vocabulary you are just bound to hear a lot of words that you actually know, or at least have come across, being pronounced by Welsh speakers (not all guaranteed to be first language speakers, but if they are competent enough to be on the radio, they must be pretty good).

My bias is towards northern, and I seem to be lucky that a lot of the speech-oriented (as opposed to music) programmes seem to have a bias towards northen dialect, but that is by no means 100% true.

I’d say start off with the schedule and work through the whole week, using google translate if necessary as a short-cut to find out what the various programmes are about, and try to pick out what may be of interest. Programmes usually are available for about a month; some are downloadable as podcasts.

My favourites tend to be:
Dan yr Wyneb
John Walter
O’r Bae (politics)
Gary Wyn (business)
Dewi Llwyd Ar Fore Sul (Sunday papers, politics, general).
Y Talwrn (competition between teams of bards).

plus the occasional drama series or comedy that comes along now and again.
or anything else that takes my fancy. e.g. just noticed this:

Never heard or noticed a programme like that before, but that seems fairly typical for RC; series that run for a short time, that only pop up now and again; probably a question of resources.


Hi Stella, I’ve just messaged a friend who, while not a Welsh teacher at present, has done it before now. She is, or until very recently, was responsible for the adult Welsh education provided by the council in my area. I’ve asked her if she’d be willing to talk to you to assess what exam you should do, if you were going to do an exam at all.

Another thing about the exams. Having worked my way through the ones that most adults sit in recent years, those provided by WJEC, the Welsh Joint Education Council I think that only the Mynediad is available twice a year, in January and May/June, and you are probably too late to register for this June.

All their past papers and registration requirements, and the dates of the exams are available on line. Please check carefully before making expensive travel plans.

And when you do ask for a visa I wouldn’t say you were coming to sit an exam, in the same way bootcampers are not advised to say they are coming to learn Welsh. This makes you look like a student and opens up a while can of worms.

When my friend replies I’ll send you a private message and see what happens from there.


It is not simply terrible. I understood what you were saying and nothing was wrong.
I don’t see why anyone should try to speak with a Welsh accent, as long as you pronounce everything correctly, accent doesn’t really matter. I don’t think welsh has an equivalent of RP, though newsreaders do speak in a fairly neutral way. In ‘Sam Tan’ a TV show (Fireman Sam in English), the Fire station boss speaks Welsh with a ‘posh’ English accent and the Italian lady who runs the café speaks Welsh with an Italian accent, both are perfectly understandable. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFOe6-j6qYg_8tjiu0xKb8Q
My worry is that I may be developing a Northern way of speaking which won’t match the area in Wales I come from.
finally thanks for the reminder about Ysbyty Brynaber’, I didn’t realise the audio files still existed.


Seren, I’m having trouble sending you a PM grom the train in Spain. If you send me one I can reply with my friend’s Skype address. If you send me yours I can give it to her. She confirms that only the Mynediad exam is available twice a year, in January and June.

Thank you very much for the list of the programs! I’m going to follow your advice and try to force myself to listen even if I don’t understand anything (I do hear familiar words, but they’re talking too quickly, normally, for me to put them all together in my mind and understand the meaning). I confess I’m also just sabotaging listening practices - it’s hard for me, and I don’t like doing things I’m not good at, so I’ve been neglecting listening to the point where it became a major problem.

Thank you very much for your kind words. I’m glad you could understand me:) It’s not that I want a particularly Welsh accent, though I wouldn’t mind, of course, but I do want to pronounce things correctly, sounds and rhythm. It’s such a strain for the native speakers to cope with the usage and grammar mistakes, that to torture them with wrong pronunciation would be simply cruel. Thanks for mentioning Sam Tan again, I’m going to look it up on youtube!


Thank you really very much, sent you a PM.