Caroline caught in the online bootcamp caper

I started today with Lesson 16 in Course 1…so far so good, thanks to the Pause button!
The challenge is a good one though I only know one of the phrases - Bore da! Depending on what time of the day you get the challenge depends on whether you will meet enough people to surprise with the Welsh greeting. Looking ahead to finding a Welsh speaker was a good way to find out about ffrinDiaith and to discover there is another learner in my city.

That’s a really interesting point in the Course to be doing this - I reckon it might help you push through the ‘slow down because I want to be perfect’ barriers that sometimes trip people up towards the end of courses. Are you doing the 5 or the 10 day run?

Bore da will do! Even if it’s late at night…:wink: The key thing is just the step of opening your mouth and letting some Welsh come out…:smile:

Whereabouts do you live? Great to hear that you’ve done well with ffrinDiaith already…

I live in Adelaide, South Australia. This is Day 4 of the 10 day online bootcamp and I’ve noticed a lot of benefits. By including someone in the dialogue that we created it a) enrichens them as well - my husband, a teacher, is very interested in the ‘embracing mistakes’ part of this learning methodology b) helps me feel less isolated and weird being thousands of miles away from two countries where Welsh is spoken.
It helps me ‘accept uncertainty’ and I am surprised at how Welsh words and phrases leap into my brain unconsciously. Moving through lessons like this feels more like riding waves. The old way I was doing it felt more like wading through waist high water. Both processes are pleasant, but the bootcamp process is more exhilarating.
Native Welsh speakers are a bit thin on the ground in this part of the world, I find the challenges are engaging me in conversations about Welsh and as these tend to be with people who think Welsh is just a different way of pronouncing English, it is a bit of an evangelical exercise. When you try explaining something to someone else, it is a really good way to clarify your own thinking and to understand concepts better.

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That’s enormously interesting feedback, Caroline, thank you so much - I’m delighted that it’s proving a valuable exercise for you thus far, and your description of ‘riding waves’ instead of ‘wading through waist high water’ is brilliant…:star:

Two observations after listening to 5th day session: it is amazingly valuable having a community e.g. via this blog and Aran’s regular feedback. 1) Reading other reports on the learning experience helps with the isolation of being an online learner and away from where the language is naturally spoken. 2) Advice from feedback keeps slipping into the lesson sessions and has a big impact e.g.’ accept uncertainty’ and ‘use the pause button - but also resist using it’. I am always amazed at how this licence frees you up to learn and when I decide to resist the pause button how quickly the Welsh comes to me when I didn’t expect it would. It’s a bit like using the clutch in a car - there is a point at which you forget the individual steps in the clutch/gear operations and do things automatically. It’s brilliant!

when I decide to resist the pause button how quickly the Welsh comes to me when I didn’t expect it would.

If you’re getting that already, you are definitely turning your brain into a machine for devouring new languages…:star:

One of the things I’ve found makes a real difference for people struggling to get that gear change happening is to focus on saying the first word - because the act of saying the first word triggers the neurons for the next bits, and can create ‘flow’ that wouldn’t happen if someone was trying to plan out the entire sentence in advance.

Agree very strongly indeed about the community element…:smile:

Very busy day today but rose to the challenge, nevertheless, though my sentences were out of date by the time I got to use them ‘virtually’. I posted an audio version on my Facebook page and will try ‘real time’ conversation tomorrow.When I can get Audioboo to work properly I might send it out to the Twittersphere! I just realised this bootcamp will race me to the end of Course 1 as there is no lesson 26. Welsh is an amazing language. I can’t wait to meet new words. New constructions are a bit harder to befriend immediately.

Anyone who rises to the challenge even when they’re busy is a nailed on cert to end up a confident Welsh speaker…:star:

When I can get Audioboo to work properly I might send it out to the Twittersphere!

That is an absolutely terrific idea - several million extra brownie points right there…:smile:

…and, here’s the thing. These challenges are very cunningly contrived, it seems, to go forth and multiply. You can’stop at meeting the challenge just on that day. Each challenge begs to be repeated whenever and wherever. So there’s a tipping point, a point at which you realise that you are becoming a Welsh speaker, thinking and speaking Welsh bits and pieces without the prompting of the lessons.

Thanks Caroline for mentioning Audioboo - I am just now listening to a fascinating interview with Benedict Carey on the Leonard Lopate Show about learning environments, with some great insights, one of them that you need to create distractions while learning.

Each challenge begs to be repeated whenever and wherever.

I’m so glad that you’re responding like that - it was definitely a big part of what I was aiming for, based partially on some of the stuff in Charles Duhigg’s ‘The Power of Habit’ - although with more time, I’m sure it can be refined quite a bit further. Very exciting to hear that it’s working like that to some extent already, so thank you very, very much for that…:smile:

…and I love how one thing leads to another. You get to a point where you need a word or you want to know how to spell something, which is as it should be. Curiosity generates learning. Listening and speaking precede reading. However, for pronounciation’s sake I often check out words, with dd, f, ff, etc, finding it very hard to be sure of the sound.The future tense is like a minefield.

… then there are the enrichments that make the language learning a more holistic experience, following up references like the audioboo, Benedict Carey on the Leonard Lopate Show, mentioned by Louis, thankyou. I think I have already bookmarked that and Charles Duhigg’s ‘The Power of Habit’ - will follow that up, too.Thank you. Anything about learning is like a bone to a dog in this household.
Talking of enrichment, is there a new Welsh cuisine? I love cooking but don’t like lamb, butter or cream. Glamorgan sausages were a success and lend themselves to some innovation. When I look up Welsh recipes, it is the traditional ones only that surface, and though I am prepared to try my auntie’s Welsh cakes again, I was wondering if there have been more adventurous explorations in the kitchen.

I am a bit behind with yesterday’s challenge but looking forward to finding and listening to the podcast and moving on with the next lesson.

You asked: And tell us how today has gone for you - your emotions, your fears, your moments of unexpected delight, anything that stands out for you. Are you happy that this little online Bootcamp is almost over, or do you wish it could carry on for longer?
Today was truncated, spilling over into the next day, so it’s good that I have a weekend to catch up! I am sorry that the ‘camp’ is coming to an end though it will also be good to have a break now that the challenges and learning are spilling over, for me, from one day to the next. I also think that, apart from the feedback and motivation from the emails, I could ‘revisit’ the experience in short bursts - i.e. it’s sustainable. The challenges are certainly repeatable and excellent consolidation and exploration activities. Was sustainability cunningly built in, too?
The 10 minutes of thinking in Welsh was both difficult and delightful. Like meditation, there is the difficulty of rounding up stray thoughts and tuning in and the temptation to check how many minutes are left (several times!). However, there is also the delightful experience of realising you can do so much thinking in Welsh, in phrases and sentences. There was also the fall back position of repeating some words or phrases like a mantra, when you panic, thinking what else can I ‘think’ in Welsh? These short mantra episodes were the equivalent of saying ‘rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb’ like an extra in a crowd scene though in fact the chant was more like ‘rhywbeth, rhywbeth, rhywbeth’, or ‘dim byd, dim byd, dim byd’.
The first thing I wanted to be able to say in Welsh was about things I really wanted to do, instead of sitting still for 10 minutes, like go out in the ‘garden’, 'make a telephone call and I realised I really need to find out some prepositions, like ‘with’ and ‘to’. This is a bit greedy to ask for but there were also two main structures I wanted the Welsh for. The first is to know how to say ‘keep (on) doing’ e.g I want to keep on learning, keep sleeping etc… The other is how to say ‘would’ as in I would go, she would - the conditional tense as in, if I could I would go.

The Mistake Cake:
I thought I could hear at least 12 mistakes in this but I think my biggest mistake was taking too much time over it: e.g. preparing what I wanted to say, checking words etc. I am sure this is totally against the spirit of the challenge. I couldn’t imagine myself doing much more than umming and ahhing, if I didn’t prepare. So I did and knew it was wrong from the amount of time it was taking…aha, that’s why conventional language learning courses take so long before you get anywhere!
I learned that:
3 minutes was six times longer than I had imagined.
I couldn’t go shopping for new words or structures, and finally
if I had trusted Aran, I would know I had everything I needed to get through the challenge with less effort.
reading and writing have their place but hold your speaking back a great deal, if you rely on them too early.

I also realised that it was years before I could produce as much in French or Italian.

Wow. Just listened to your soundcloud posting. Very very impressive. It comes across as so fluent and confident with such clear pronounciation. Well done indeed.

Just completed the final challenge. It was brilliant. I wasn’t. The experience itself, not me, was fantastic.
Finding a Welsh speaker seemed impossible at first. The Welsh clubs/associations in South Australia had all disappeared. The Welsh cafe had closed shop and its Facebook page was dated and bare. Then Google came to the rescue. I discovered a wonderful group on Facebook called the Welsh in Australia. Before too long, my call for help had a swag of comments and multiple offers to help out. I set up a cafe meeting in our Adelaide Hills - an idyllic spot and a retro cafe that is worth a few return visits. The Facebook group in itself would have been reward enough for undertaking the challenge - what a great group of friendly, helpful people and it’s so nice to know there’s a Welsh community on my doorstep - relatively speaking, anyway. We’re used to big open spaces here and the doorsteps can be massive.
What a double bonus meeting Alwen who graciously endured my 10 minutes of conversation. In retrospect, I approached the conversation too awkwardly and should have had a game plan. It felt very unnatural seeking to retrieve vocabulary and structures that might be appropriate. In the panic I forgot a basic rule of conversation: have lots of questions and get the other person talking. Hey! But what a great learning point. It’s really hard when you want to find out so much about the person (in English - how could I not apply the same principle in Welsh!) and to feel restricted by the words and structures you can currently handle. Great motivation though for learning more. It was interesting that my Welsh helper was from the North and my Welsh is the southern version, not that I probed enough to find out enough about the differences. I feel great that this is possible, learning enough Welsh to converse, (next time in a less awkward way), using social media to connect and getting up there in the hills!

Caroline, you’ve achieved something quite remarkable here. Your Mistake Cake is excellent - you speak clearly and entirely understandably - which is a huge, huge achievement for someone just getting to the end of Course 1.

The limits you felt aware of in your conversation weren’t your fault - they were the natural limits of Course 1, which are improved to quite an extent in the new Level 1. Still, you’ll find that putting yourself into a conversational situation will soon give you some short cuts to the kind of questions you’d like to be asking, and will help it all start to open up.

The most important thing of all is that you’ve shown you can gallop successfully through a huge amount of lessons in a very, very short amount of time - if you push on even half as quickly as that through Course 2, you’ll come to realise that you are turning into a genuine Welsh speaker in very short order…:seren:

…so now I’m not sure what to go back to:

  1. go back over the lessons I’ve galloped through
  2. try the new Level 1
  3. move on to 2
  4. all of the above
  5. none of the above
    It’s good to have a break but it’s great learning new stuff, too. I am also wondering whether some of these learning principles could be applied to English classes with asylum seekers. I help out at some classes here but some teaching I have seen is quite traditional, text based without a lot of risk taking or student production. The website that showed me there was a Welsh community ‘on my doorstep’ was the group page of Cymru Awstralia, the Welsh Downunder.

I’d be inclined to give the new Level 1 a go, personally. Some of it will be gratifyingly familiar, while lots will be interestingly different.

Plus, at this rate you’ll have finished in a month and can then go onto course 2 :wink:

Thanks Kev. I was leaning towards that and had tried the first session, finding it interesting and challenging in a different way to the other lessons. I was surprised at how different it was. I’ll give my brain the rest of the ‘two-week’ holiday that was decreed by the bootcamp commandant and will very happily jump in to more learning and practice in another 4 days or so, I think it will be.