Context and new learner

Hello. I have started challenge one having finished the one sentence in Welsh. I am a qualified language teacher and I’m finding it hard learning by this method due to the lack of context. I was always taught and have found it to be true that people learn much better when things are in context, for example I learned loads of French by reading recipe books where I could garner the meaning of the terms easily due to their context. With a language like welsh which is so totally different from any latin or germanic based language it’s really a struggle for me. Any suggestions to help me? I’m not doing too bad with learning the words but not sure how useful it is to be able to say things like I want to speak welsh because I love the welsh language and I want to practice etc. No offence meant whatsoever, I can see the method works for learning to say words, I’d just really like to be able to make some sentences that I could actually use in a cafe or something. How far on in the course does this come? Thanks

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Hi Helwn,

Welcome! :slight_smile: The way this course works is one of the most surprising things I’ve come across - counter intuitive (to me) and different to the way I have learnt anything else (which is probably why).

I started in October just over a year ago and went to an SSIW meeting in Leeds the January following and spoke (faltering) Welsh with the people there - something I found amazing and very pleasing at the time.

The course builds quickly and rapidly moved onto more complex phrases and sentences and because you learn them all via the medium of speech your brain stores them ‘ready to roll’ - it’s a little bit weird but also curiously simple.

But I guess that’s the way we all learnt our language the first time round.

Keep going, it won’t take you long to ‘get it’!




I’ve no doubt that it would soon begin to come together, I suppose my question relates to vocabulary, really. In part one there doesn’t seem to be much, is this unlocked in part two? I mean by vocabulary actual words for everyday things.

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Oh yes. Actually the phrases in the challenges are pretty handy for early conversations where inevitability you have to ask someone whether they speak it before you can start, allow you to give some explanation that you are a learner/ how long you’ve been learning…and in particular, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t understand that can you say that again a little more slowly ?’ !

But in fact what you are really learning is patterns, what bits go together/ don’t - which allows you quickly to build your own sentences - to say whatever you want.

We are not allowed to mention the ‘G’ word - it’s a bit like Voldemort (whoops) but it teaches you this by giving you examples and letting your brain figure it out. The surprising thing is that it works.

Then you can say anything…sort of …,(don’t mention the G word) . ha, ha!


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Shwmae a croeso @Frances! Hi and welcome!

So, everything @rich said is pretty much what I was going to say! Well, except the part about He Who Must Not Be Named. :rofl: Brilliant. :mage::woman_mage:

I’ve been teaching ESL for 13 years and I have always been taught the same thing about the importance of context, however after a few weeks of using this method I am amazed by the things I am saying. It is like I am creating grooves and slots in my mind and then as the new vocabulary is introduced the words are just falling into place with extraordinary ease… it’s not perfection, and not easy (at least at first), but so much easier than I ever expected!

I have viewed the context for these early lessons as being analogous to arriving in China to live there and speaking very little Mandarin because my move happened quite suddenly - so I learned how to say I didn’t speak Chinese very well VERY WELL and got a lot of practice using it. I am about to start Challenge 14, and in the previous lessons there have been so many times where I had to shake my head in amazement at the way the words were flowing out correctly with no real thought. Bam, there they were! It is a great feeling, so counter-intuitive though it may be, do trust the process and give it a shot! Good luck! Pob lwc!


Hi there

I’ve no idea who Vodemort is, nor do I want to know, he sounds like someone I’m better off not knowing anyway :wink: Your joke was lost on me but the rest of what you said wasn’t, thank you. I have also been quite impressed but with the little I know getting a bit frustrated, due to the maxim a little knowledge is a bad thing, finding I can’t make sentences up because I don’t have the grammar (sorry should I say the Voldemort)?! but I can say a few things that aren’t terribly useful yet however I do understand the importance of patterns. Hoewever I’m still not getting a clear picture of where in the course I have to get to before I could for example start creating my own sentences about everyday things… if I had an idea, such as it’s in part 2 or 3, it would give me something to aim for. I wanted today for example to say "I am learning Welsh because I love Wales and the Welsh Language but I need to pracice it… "! lol I can say all of that apart from the pronoun at the end, it’s so different from how I normally learn a language, but presumably in the end you can say pretty much what you want to. I can’t complain as it’s free and seems to be the best thing I’ve found for free on the internet. There seems to be a real dearth of good Welsh learning resources out there for free. I’m reluctant to pay for a course up front until I’ve sampled how good it is, I’ve been stung like that before and wasted lots of money. It’s a shame there isn’t more out there to be honest, I’m learning Welsh for fun really, I’ve always wanted to learn Welsh and now in my late 40s feel it’s about time I tried to get past nos da and cariad… lol

Sasha I am an EFL teacher too. Yes it goes against all we’ve been taught doesn’t it? :smiley:

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Yep, it sure does, and yet that is the beauty of it somehow! I still think that using context in a classroom setting is very important, but the dynamic in these lessons is so different, working alone with the recordings, that it just clicks somehow.

Another major difference I’ve noticed is that I was trained to avoid the use of my students’ first language as much as possible, working only in the target language - in which case context will be critical for anyone to have a clue what is going on. Picture these lessons with no English at all…! Ahhhh, my eyelids twitch during the challenges already, and with no L1 the Welsh would not make any sense whatsoever.

I was also taught to avoid translation whenever possible, but with these short phrases and ever longer sentences coupled with the very short response time (pause button not withstanding), I find that while I am hearing the English I am already thinking in Welsh! It is so strange and yet it works.

I just finished Challenge 14 a few moments ago, and my right eyelid really is twitching as I type this, but I got through it and feel good about both my successes and my struggles because I have 13 challenges before that under my belt and I have started to trust the process. I often repeat the challenges a couple times before moving on, at least once - usually earlier the same day before I plan to move on to the next one. I read that 13 and 14 were extra difficult, so I gave 10 - 12 even more time, and again with 13 before pressing on, and I am glad I did. I can’t wait to see what comes next with Challenge 15! I might even be able to tackle it tomorrow after one more run-through with 14.

I hope you find your footing and get into the groove because I have a pretty good feeling that you will be speaking Welsh before you know it and surprising yourself the way I have been surprising myself every day since I began this journey. Best of luck, and remember the forum is always here to answer questions, resolve frustrations and cheer you along!


The trouble is I have a degree in Linguistics and it’s my passion so I am in need of knowing why some things are happening with the Welsh, and it’s rather frustrating to me not to know this. However I can always google it and some people on here have a lot of knowledge of grammar I’ve discovered anyway. I think that I like the idea not to get bogged DOWN in Grammar but to not even know it at all is not ok for me, however, I will carry on and learn what I need to as I go. Take care x

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@Frances I do like to know more about the grammar, but I tend to focus on that at other times in my study, say when I’m working on a new skill on my Duolingo tree. Here, I focus on the goal of speaking more and letting the language flow. I guess it is a sort of code switching I go into. The questions are there still, and my mind reels, but the forum is a great place to ask those burning questions. I think the key for me as a learner using this program is to try to let go of all of that and focus on using the language… like you said, not getting bogged down in it, or at least not while in the middle of a challenge. Hope that helps! Take care, too!

You might find this book (written by one of our forum members) to be an interesting read on the side:

Honestly though, most of the trickier bits of grammar are much easier to learn through these lessons (since the repeated examples eventually just make correct usage feel more natural than incorrect usage) than by trying to remember the rules - especially when it comes to the mutations.

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Croeso mawr yma @Frances first.

Then on, since I didn’t do the course such way you do (1 sentence in Welsh) and I don’t know if it’s the same as we (“oldies” (by the periode we’re on here)) learnt - just “grabbing” the level or course doing it in approx. one month or so but with doing one lesson a day you get quite some vocabulary.

As concerns the things you could use in the pub I always recommend the 6 bonus lesson of the old Course 1 which is aimed to teach you just that - how to start a conversation and ending with inviting your sgwrs partner to the cup of coffee or tea. But I’m not sure nowdays if this material is still accessible to all.

Maybe I should tag @aran, @Iestyn or @Deborah-SSi here, who, as the tutors, could explain some more and eventually help you with this.

Tatjana :slight_smile:


Hi helwn, and welcome!

in case it helps giving an idea of how SSiW may work, here’s my experience:

I started learning Welsh with SSiW six months ago. Before that, all I knew was a few songs and the content of a handful of lessons of Duolingo.
I completed SSiW Level 1 and 2 quite smoothly. Then I tried a few challenges/lessons of Level 3 - which by the way are probably the richest in vocabulary - but, overall, a bit too hard for me at this point.
Since October, I’ve been listening the SSiW Advanced material (there’s a few other threads explaining a bit more about it, if you’re curious), every week.
Apart from SSiW material, all I did was keeping on listening to my favourite songs, then watched some TV and YouTube videos, listened to a bit of radio, asked questions here in the forum and had a look at a few lists of sentences and useful words for tourists I found on the web (all of which help adding vocabulary and useful structures).
About a month ago I went to Wales for the first time for a few days, and well…I was able to actually ask and communicate basic things and understand quite a good amount of the answers in fluent Welsh! :grin:
So I would say…it works!

p.s. I like learning languages, but I’m not a natural polyglot. German is spoken by many relatives of mine, I’ve heard it since I was a child, I have been several times in German-speaking countries and did a few “traditional” courses. But I’m still not able to put together a decent sentence! Maybe I should try SSiW German when it’s available, and see if it does the miracle @aran? :wink::laughing:


I use various resources, I don’t really see that SSIW is enough on its own. On the basic level, I don’t think it teaches all the numbers, months of the year etc. For understandable reasons - you just have to learn those by rote.

Duolingo is good for some of that stuff. I spent a long time using very basic BBC resources at the start, because I couldn’t even pronounce the letters.

I dunno - SSIW is what it is. You are the learner, you can either take the available resources and use them as best you can, or you can complain that they’re not doing something they are not designed to do.

Fwiw, I went to Welsh for Adults classes to Sylfaen level and go to chat mornings twice a week… watch s4c, listen to Radio Cymru etc. It’s all good.

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The course focuses on crucial structures and patterns which you need all the time, rather than loads of individual vocabulary words. They are available in a variety of sources and once you have the structures under your belt, you can start to build up the vocabulary about the particular things that you like to talk about.

The supported courses, e.g. the 6 Month and 6 Minute a Day courses, encourage participants to start creating their own sentences as much as possible from after Level 1 Challenge 4 and not long after that to start having one-to-one exchanges with another person as a step towards real conversations.

Another way to gauge the progress you’ll make is that by the end of Level 1 you will have enough Welsh to come to a bwtcamp and spend an entire week living through the medium of Welsh. People on the 6 Month course reach this point after 3 months.


Hi @Frances

If you are specifically looking for a bit of quick knowledge on how to get by in a cafe, try out one of my videos over on - this video is specifically for learners going to a pub and showing them how to get by - but by simply changing the word “peint” (pint) for “coffi” (coffee), I’m sure you’ll be able to get some use out of it.

There is logic in the order in which SSIW teaches you words and structures, it forces you to really wrangle your brain at the start. In fact when I was still learning, one of my first questions on here was “How do I ask for something in a pub?” or something along those lines, so you’re not alone.

Bottom line: You will get all of this knowledge during the course, but if you want to skip ahead and learn how to ask for things in shops and so forth, this resource is there for you should you need it.

Enjoy SSIW and best of luck in your language journey!


Welcome! Loads of great advice/thoughts above. I was describing the SSIW method to a friend the other day. I am constantly badgering him to learn Welsh. The best way I could describe it to him was that you learn the ‘skeleton’ ie the patterns first and they become automatic. It is then really easy to hang the flesh ie, the vocab, onto the skeleton as you need.

Once I had done a few of the first challenges I would look up the odd word and sneak it into the sentences and make up my own conversations in my head so I suppose I created my own context from the basic patterns I was learning.

I picked up the grammar as I went along.

Good luck with the course!


It shouldn’t be too hard to find a pub with Welsh speakers, the Welsh do love their pubs… :wink:


so is the answer that the challenges courses don’t have much vocabulary? when I clicked on challenge two it says I have to pay to unlock it and vocabulary lists etc so I rather assumed this was available in the paid part of the challenges?

The challenges are about learning patterns. If you want to learn lots of vocab, use Duolingo.

The thing that it is sometimes hard to understand is that Welsh has (I think I read) upwards of 75% different vocabulary to English. The word order is different, the way verbs are used is different, the letters are different.

That’s a lot of things to get used to - when it sounds almost nothing like English.