Can I change course? Despondant

Hi. So, I think I have become prey (once again) to my innate perfectionism and defeatism. I have only completed the first two tasks of Level 1 (6 month course) - I do have problems with my short term memory and got quickly disillusioned during the middle part of each 30minute lesson when I couldn’t think quick enough to say anything (before the ‘answer’ was said). On the occasions when I allowed myself to use the ‘Pause’ button, I then couldn’t remember the phrase we were supposed to be saying. I ‘shut down’ and have done nothing since (despite the lovely, encouraging emails). I’m wondering now if I should have chosen the other course (the one that is over a full year)? Does anyone have any advice (other than being ‘kinder’ to myself, or not a perfectionist…after 62 years, I don’t think I can change that overnight!)? Do you think I should (if I can) change to the year’s course? Or should I just pause this course until I’m feeling more encouraged? Oh - and Happy New Year to all!

Sorry to hear this. But as a fellow learner, I found I was doing the challenges multiple times in the week sometimes every day until they sank in. If you can find it within yourself to start again and just keep plugging at it, it will get easier as your brain becomes adjusted to this way of learning. And as SSiW says we learn from our mistakes and we’re not looking for perfection. I don’t speak English that well and it’s my first language, so I’m not going to be spot on with Welsh lol Good luck, but please don’t give up, it really does work :slight_smile:


Hi @trish-2. You can, of course, swap courses, but the feeling of perfectionism won’t go away and you may yet feel the same with the longer course. When Aran says you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to understand everything, that good enough is good enough, it really is true. We have spent a life timebuilding up a mindset about how we learn best, and this may be totally incorrect. SSIW is not like any other way of learning, but it’s been going a while now and the point about spaced repetition is that the stuff we find difficult today, but understand enough of (not 100% mind you) will be repeated in a bit and then seem easier. Use the pause button more often, if it helps. It’s there to help, not to make you feel a failure. Be kind to yourself, pat yourself on the back. It is absolutely doable.And come back here for more help, if you need it. A Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i ti, Happy New Year to you too.


Just sharing my experience here. I got very despondent too earlier this week and posted about it on the forum. I was encouraged enough not to give up and am feeling positive again now, and welcoming my mistakes.

If you stick with the longer challenges, I have found that the hardest bit is about 15 minutes in (the middle bit) then it gets easier towards the end. The 'middle bits" are gone over again lots of times as you progress through the challenges so they get to be the '‘easy bits’ before you know it! So if I can’t do the the middle bit I give myself some slack. As Aran says, treat it like a game, you win some and you lose some.

Another thing I"ve found is that I’m happier doing it ( the Challenges) if I’m doing something else at the same time. Today I was stickybeaking (Australian for Nosey Parkers) as I sat outside a cafe watching the world go by. Sometimes I do the challenges as I knit or crochet or do some housework. That helps a lot, it kind of takes the pressure off and it doesn’t feel like studying, it feels more relaxing.

Good luck and whatever you decide I hope you keep at it.



I think it is so important to remember that the challenges are about getting your brain working with Welsh structures, rather than remembering everything in them. This requires you to make mistakes and means that you are almost certainly learning more than you think you are. I would recommend doing challenge 1 and/or two again. You could well be amazed at how easy it seems now. Also, in my experience what makes this method work is exposure to the language outside the challenges. It is worth, say, listening to Radio Cymru, even if you feel you are not understanding much. Good luck!


I don’t know if this is recommended advice, but I chopped the lessons down into smaller pieces. When I first started the course I did a lot of my learning in the car and I chopped the lessons down into car journey sized pieces (my MP3 player at the time lost its place if you stopped it part way through a track). So I chopped the lessons into 10 or 15 minute pieces. I still learned just fine.
I really find that my brain feels like it has had a proper workout after completing a lesson. If you find that your brain is tiring a bit after however long, then try studying in small chunks, perhaps spread over the day.
I’m sorry I can’t give you advice over the structured courses as I haven’t done them, just used the lessons on my own, before the courses were developed.


What a fantastic set of answers - Trish, I hope you find them helpful, and I hope you see how much everyone wants you to succeed, and how much support you’ll always get in this marvellous community… :slight_smile: :star2:


Hi @trish-2!

While I still have problems remembering the longer English sentences, it’s gotten better now. Sometimes I say “learn” instead of “speak” or “brother” instead of “sister” OR forget the second part I’m supposed to say altogether! And I think it doesn’t matter much because it’s the familiarity with the structures that I’m aiming for. I think this course trains your short term memory anyway so it’s bound to get better and better if you stick with it.

I also remember very vividly how I couldn’t go through more than 1/3 of Challenge 1 in the beginning. That’s gotten much better now too, I can get through the whole challenge without too much frustration so I think it’s the familiarity with the method that helps (because I swear the structures and vocab didn’t get any easier). The challenges are shorter now too, about 35 minutes each. Some of the earlier ones went over 40 minutes, if I remember correctly.

I’ve also found out that I am a very poor auditive learner. So I look up the new vocab before listening to a challenge (otherwise I have no chance to repeat anything at all). I tend to write down some of the tougher ones mid-week - in different fonts to memorize them better. I’m still doing every challenge 3 times, up to 5 times if there are new structures that feel totally alien.

So it’s hard work for me, nothing comes naturally and I curse a lot but there hasn’t been a word or structure yet that I haven’t got the hang of eventually. Every time I sit mutely, unable to repeat the easiest things after Aran, I remember that I’ve been there before and it got better with repetition (my repeating the challanges + the built-in repetition of the course) as well as my coping mechanisms like looking up stuff beforehand or writing things down.

If you feel that you simply need more time for every challenge to use your own learning methods, then switching the course might be the way to go.

I’m a perfectionist too and I used to learn languages easily. I didn’t expect it to be so much harder with Welsh! I thought, “I’m special and gifted and now I need a ton of repetition to get anywhere at all?!” It is still hard to accept. I am glad that I stumbled into my first hangout on Slack in my very first week because hangouts help me move my focus away from “being special and still struggling” to “oh my, these people are so nice and I want to learn more to tell them stuff”. It was also great to see people speaking fluently after having been learning for 4 months! So the method works and the community is just lovely and this is how I get over my perfectionism. Maybe something like this could ease the mental strain for you too? (I wasn’t able to say more than two sentences during my first hangout and nobody minded. It’s really for all levels and boosts the morale a lot.)


Wow…so much good advice, so much encouragement & empathy! Thank you all so much, and tomorrow I will ‘start again’ and see how I go. I should probably ‘pause’ the course until I catch up to Week 5. I’m going to print out and take note of all your wonderful tips and try and decipher out which ones work for me…thank you again, cymuned fendigedig (hopefully Google Translate defied it’s critics there?!). xxx


This from one of my GP colleagues on the perfectionist trap.


Hi @trish-2
I hope you stick with it, I promise you it does get easier! In the beginning I couldn’t remember the long sentences in English and had to write them down but now (on week 12 of level 1) I don’t need to, so not only is my Welsh improving but my short-term memory is too :slight_smile: I’m up to challenge 23 and have recently re-done challenges 1 to 13 - I’m amazed at how much easier they are second time around, which gives me the confidence and faith that this course works. Keep at it, you’ve got this!
Julie :slight_smile:


Stick with it and try to change some habits. I listen to mine in the car so I can’t escape! I have to admit that I have paused my sessions a couple of times now as I was falling behind but I’m back on it now. I have to try to listen at least 3 times a week for it to feel like it’s sinking in. I was listening to Dr Chatterjee on the radio this morning and he was saying that to change habits it’s got to be doable, ie 5-10 mins a day tagged on to something you already do. So why not try just doing 10 mins per day while you’re having breakfast maybe. I’m going to try this. Good luck x


Hi trish-2,
I sympathise! I also struggle with short term memory and don’t really learn by listening and repeating. But I started only listening on my way to work in the morning (15 minutes) - I find I am too tired on the way home, when i cannot keep up with the speed. Sometimes I have to listen to the same 15 minutes lots of times before it sinks in. In fact doing say something is now a measure of how tired my brain is! When i can’t remember the phrase (in english!) I know that I need a rest.
Being a perfectionist doesn’t have to mean learning perfectly… why can’t it mean getting the phrases right before moving on??


@CatrinLliarJones this would be a lovely thread for next week’s email… :slight_smile: :star2:


Trish, I see you have a bunch of really helpful replies so this is probably surplus to requirement but anyway I’ll add that I have found a) forgetting what the English sentence was is NFOS (normal for over 60/70, take your pick :unamused:. b) doing a challenge four times, gradually reducing use of the Pause button, is effective but only if I take 24 hours off between sessions, rest being as important as effort. And c) perfectionism is a very hard condition to cure but hey, you already speak more Welsh than most people on the planet. Don’t give up!


Love this perspective! :sunglasses::ok_hand:


I feel your pain, but know you will get there in the end as you signed up because you wanted to do it.

I will leave others to do the cheer leading for you, and offer a very practical way forward that might help.

Download the challenge onto something that suits your learning style and supports your memory requirements.

I would suggest Audacity, as you are able to pause as you want and to visual be aware of exactly where you need to rewind to in order to hear the English phrase again.

You will then be able to do it at your own pace.

Reaching the destination is the objective, and making you ride smoother will enable it more comfortably.

Hope that this helps, and I am happy to discuss if I have not made myself clear enough.

Keep on keeping on.


Thank you Lauri-1! And you are spot on with your NFOS point! I will try to follow your cue re. repeating the challenges, and I love your last point!!

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I share your pain, Trish! I have been doing SSiW since last March and those early weeks were really painful. The number of times I sat in the car in complete and frustrated silence, unable to articulate the sentence in Welsh that I was supposed to be saying, was high! I think I took some challenges up to 10 times before moving on, still unable to understand a lot of it, but I am someone who needs to hear things a lot of times before it starts to sink in. However, the good news is that even though I have not followed the system exactly as Aran recommended, I am much more confident in what I know now, and to consolidate that I got half way through Level 3, stopped and went right back to Level 1 Challenge 1 (I was looking forward to hearing Aran’s description of the ‘hissing goose’ sound again, a phrase that sounds magnificent in a Welsh accent!) and I am now nearing the end of Level 2 and realise I know much more than I thought! Also, some of the things I didn’t fully understand in Level 1 the first time round (even after multiple repetitions) now made sense! Not all of them yet, but many of them! So I’d say definitely stick at it, try not to get too despondent when you feel you’re not making any progress at all, and in a few months or even a year you’ll look back and realise how far you’ve come. And don’t get too intimidated by reports of some learners sounding ‘fluent’ after 4 months - for me, that was never going to happen. I have given myself two years to get to a place where I can converse a bit in Welsh, and I feel I am still a long way off that. I can SPEAK some Welsh, but UNDERSTANDING what other people are saying in Welsh is my bigger challenge! That’s why the hangouts are so invaluable, although I really struggle to fit in the time to join them. Most of my leaning time is in the car on the way to/from work.


I have just read the above letters and feel so encouraged. I too have felt despondency. Having been brought up in Wales as a non Welsh speaker and having lived in England for forty years it was great to be back. I had retained my Wesh accent and people thought I was Welsh speaker. I have now been learning locally and on line. I realize I expected too much of myself in the journey towards fluency. I have enjoyed SSi very much and was well on my way to completing level 2. Challenges, but had an accident in the Autumn and have been in recovery mode ever since. As the New Year dawned I knew I wanted to resume the Course, so a few days ago I went back to Challenge 22 and was relieved that I had remembered more than I thought I would. So a few more sessions on 22 I hope to go forward again. It is encouraging to know that people have similar problems. So good luck everyone and let’s go on together with these challenges.
Hwyl nawr