Afraid to Speak Welsh

Hi All

So I was given the chance to speak to a north welsh speaker today and lost all confidence. I was really disappointed in myself after and wondered how I was going to get over the fear. The guy spoke to me first in English as he wasn’t sure how much I had learnt but I could have replied back to him in welsh with something like Dw i newydd ddechrau dysgu. I think I convinced myself that it was too early to start speaking welsh with only completing 4 lessons but is it too early? How did you guys get over your fear? Are there any tips you can give me?




Never too early! Even if you only say Bore Da.

The first time you try and say something will be the most terrifying, but you are learning with SAY SSIW.

The longer you leave it the harder it will be, because it’s mostly psychological. Get over that fear and it will, in general, get easier. You will have learned more with every conversation you have and every SSIW lesson you work on.

Will you be seeing that first language speaker again? Could you prepare just a sentence or two and just say them. Don’t worry that you don’t understand the response, just get the words out.

And lots of people here Skype with other learners. You could go for that as well.


Had to think about that one, but in my case I think I managed to just let myself go with the flow without worrying about mistakes etc. If you run out of things to say in Welsh, just say so. My first conversation was in a pub, that helped :slight_smile: When you think about it, you can’t really fail, nobody is going to roll on the floor laughing, and everything effort you put into speaking Welsh makes you a better speaker.

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This is ‘Say Something in Welsh’, so say something, as the others have suggested, then slowly but surely build up as you gain confidence, skills and knowledge.
I was listening earlier to Huw Stephens’ show, from last Thursday on Radio Cymru. He was at the recent Green Man festival, towards the end of the programme he interviews a fellow DJ from Radio Wales (didn’t catch the name), who is a Welsh learner. The guy made huge amounts of mistakes, but I and Huw were able to understand what he was saying, even though he often picked the ‘wrong’ word, or used ‘arderchog’ to describe everything. My point is that if a professional broadcaster is prepared to go on the radio and just have a go and not be concerned about ‘mistakes’ then surely we all can!


Thank you for your response greatly appreciate the support.
@margaretnock It definitely is a physiological thing because I know I can say a few sentences now and so I should have just gone for it accepting that I may say a few things wrong or make a mistake. I think if he had spoken to me in welsh first I think I would have responded in welsh but I lost all confidence when our conversation started in english

I will have the chance to see the guy again and I did say to him next time I see you hopefully we can have a conversation in welsh. That is now my aim. The disappointment I felt will hopefully make me more determined to speak welsh next time.

Skype is definitely something I want to do, I think I am going to do a few more courses so I can say a bit more than I do now and hopefully this will improve my speaking and listening skills. Is it just a case of posting on the forum that I would like a skype partner?

@louis I think that is my problem, I am worrying too much about making a mistake but like the course says mistakes are good. I need to just accept that I will make mistakes and to improve I need to just make that first step and speak it. The pub is a very good idea! I plan to take a trip to the north west of wales in a few months time so maybe the pub needs to go down on the list of places to try out my welsh.

@Y_Ddraig_Las You are right no point learning how to say something if I don’t say anything! I have just started learning so I think I have just convinced myself that it’s too early but like @margaretnock said it’s never too early. Yeah I completely agree, if someone can speak to thousands on a radio then surely I can speak to one guy! That must have been so scary for him but I bet he felt great after it! So many welsh people will have appreciated the effort he put into speak also!

Thanks all, clearly I just need to go for it, not care about mistakes and just embrace the moment!


They may, actually, but if so, everyone will be very happy!! So no loss there!
There is a whole thread of examples:
click here to see
and others turn up all the time. Let’s see…
How about these
You cannot do any worse than some of these!! Go for it!!!



When you’re ready to try a Skype with another learner, just send me a personal message - I’m always keen to have a little chat.

And, to add to the tips already given, what sorted me out finally after years of pitiful self- consciousness was going on a Bootcamp. So you could pencil in the date of a Bootcamp you think you’ll be ready for, and think of it as a reward for all your efforts on the way. Pob lwc!


They might, if you commit a real gaffe! ((Like the recent posting on the forum where someone asked the barman for coke with sex instead of coke with ice!)

I think this is my chief worry - not so much at having a go at speaking Welsh as such, but afraid that when (s)he replies I won’t have a clue what (s)he’s on about!
(eg if they talk too fast, use slang, etc)


When you start, you know perhaps one tenth of 1 percent of the language. You do your best with that. You have no control over what the response is going to be. If, after several years you don’t understand, that’s a different matter. SSIW is SAY SIW and understanding comes later on.

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Yes. agreed. this can rob you of conversation which might be significent for you in a matter of learning, speaking and (maybe) confidence.

I’ve learnt already for 2 years or so when one night (oh, well there were quite some nights I’d say though) I came across the Chris Needs “Garden” whcih is (I hope still as I didn’t listen to it quite for a while) on the air (I believe) from 10 or 11 pm and all the way to 1 in the morning on BBC Radio Wales. I’ve plunged into tweeting half tweets in Cymraeg and half in English. That went on for about half an hour or so and he patiently has read my tweets. Then all of a sudden it came a Personal tweet from him to give them phone number because they’d like to call me. I’ve given them the number and some minutes later I was called into the show. I had slight problem because the whole house (oh there are only two additional people in the house anyway) has gone to sleep already so i couldn’t talk too loud but the major problem just occured when I said hello. Why? Because I all of a sudden started to ponder my thoughts if I’d understand anything at all and what will happen if I wouldn’t not even thinking about that Chris knows I’m only learning Welsh and he’d probably be kind to me not putting me into too much trouble.
“I’ve heard you’re learning Welsh.” he said (the show is half English half Welsh anyway so I’d be able to talk in English at any time) after some ordinary questions like where I’m from, why I’m listening to the show etc. And what was my response after so much trouble tweeting (obviously too boldly)?
“Oh, yes, but, sorry, I rather wouldn’t say too much about that. I’m only trying to learn but I don’t think I’m doing any good.” I said despite I imagined earlier I’d say at least Noswaith da and greet all who I know in Cymru and might listen to the show.
“Oh, I see. Well, we wanted just to call you and say thank you for listening to our show. Have a nice evening and listen to us again.” was his polite but I beleive also very disappointed answer. And … my sgwrs has gone to waste, and BBCs money also … Well, but I have to say that I didn’t quite start to learn with SSiW at that time yet. :slight_smile:

The point of the story: Never miss the opportunity to speak whatever, whenever and wherever the opportunity occurs. You could never speak so bad that you wouldn’t be able to say at least a sentence or two and then say "Sorry, for now this is all I am able to say in Cymraeg (or whatever language you learn for that matter).

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You could look upon this as a positive first step.
You have gone away and thought of all the things you could have said (reinforcing those phrases).
You have come here and discussed the situation and received a deal of useful advice.

Next time will be one more step on the path to conversations in welsh. (enjoy).

Cheers J.P.


All I can suggest is that you have a stock of ¨agreement phrases¨ and if possible ¨doubting phrases¨. Then judging by the speakers tone of voice, body language etc. you choose whether to agree or doubt (if in doubt agree), the idea being to keep the other person speaking, keep the ´conversation´ going. So you basically keep saying, ¨really?¨ ¨is that right?¨ ¨certainly!¨ etc. and just hope he/she likes the sound of their own voice enough to keep rabbiting on. Eventually you´ll need an ¨escape phrase¨ to bail out of the conversation in a controlled manner. A simply ¨gotta go now!¨ followed by the standard goodbyes.

Dunno, how well it will work, but it can´t be worse than standing there tongue-tied and feeling idiotic. Nor is it actually all that fake really. Even in an English conversation you don´t always hear or understand everything the other person says, you just bluff to keep things going.

OK just my 2p´s worth :slight_smile:

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Some of the stories in those links are classic. :joy:
I have actually experienced something like this already but I wasn’t talking welsh at the time. When I was taking my speaking french exam back in my school days, I was half way through my exam when my teacher who was asking me the questions burst out laughing after I had said something in french. She had to apologies to the tape and myself and I had to carry on. To this day I don’t know what it was I said. Not sure how I managed to carry on after that but I did. You never know I may have been given extra marks for carrying on :blush:

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Awww thank you I did think it was too early but with now living in England its so rare to find a welsh speaker so I kind of felt the pressure that this was a good opportunity but my fear over come me which was a shame.

That would be great if you don’t mind!I will go through a few more challenges so our conversation can last longer than a minute :joy: but will definitely take you up on that offer.

Yes I heared about the bootcamps will definitely be looking into them next year!

i actually had a brief conversation with the guy after in english and I was discussing greetings with him and he said he usually says Sut wyt ti? but when he said it I really struggled to understand what he said as he said it so quick!

You are right though @margaretnock we shouldn’t worry about the response but the fear makes you worry about everything!Hopefully this will start to disappear once I start speaking welsh.

Thank you for sharing your story, I think its amazing that you accepted the call in the first place i think i would have wanted to go into hiding. I think you have a better reason for being afraid of speaking welsh than what I did seeing as you were on a radio!!!I know exactly how you felt though with regards to planning what you were going to say but none of it came out! I think you did great anyway even though you spoke in english as I would have struggled to speak on the radio never mind in a different language :sweat_smile:

I totally agree, I think its one of the reasons why I wanted to speak to the guy because it was such a great opportunity but I hope to have that opportunity again with him in the next few weeks when I have done a few more courses and have built up some confidence.

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Yea thats a good way of looking at it, instead of seeing it as a failure I should see it as more of an experience because i have actually learnt something from it. Now i know how disappointed i was from not saying anything i am hoping this will drive me onto achieving my first welsh conversation…even if it does last 10 seconds :joy:

The forum has really helped me, the support i have received from people like yourself makes a huge difference to my learning experience and am always grateful when someone writes a comment. Hopefully my next forum post will be a positive experience!

Thanks again :relaxed:

That is a great tip!You are completely correct. There are so many words we use when being the person talked to such as oh yes, really etc that regardless of what the language being used is these kind of work will always be needed.Such a great tip thank you!! :smiley:

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Bear in mind, Sian, that speaking a new language to a fluent speaker you don’t already know is about the toughest gig there is. It really is jumping in at the deep end - if you get used to it, and make it a habit, it can and will transform the experience for you, but the vast majority of people find it understandably difficult.

The best way to prepare for it is to use your Welsh on as regular a basis as possible - even if you just start by spending 2 minutes a day talking Welsh to yourself - with added people as often as possible, ideally people you know and trust to begin with - or fellow learners who feel your pain.

The more time you spend using your Welsh, the less jumping into the deep end in the wild will terrify you, until one day it seems normal… :slight_smile:


Hi Aran thank you for your message :blush:

Completely agree with you, I think I am going to do a few more lessons and see if I can find someone to practice with. Hopefully this will build my confidence and hopefully then I can jump into the deep end and speak to a native speaker.

My goal now is to speak to the guy I spoke in English to but this time in welsh! I think this is a good goal to work towards!