Fear of speaking Welsh

HI All,

I’m wondering if there is some help and advice the forums can offer me.

My partner is a fluent Welsh speaker and I would love to speak to her entirely in Welsh. I am however having problems doing it. The only way I can adequately describe it is ‘fear’. When I’m doing the lessons, I have very little trouble creating the sentences or remembering the words to use. When its then time to use it in a real situation I either forget how to speak or feel really embarrassed and fearful of opening my mouth and saying something wrong.

I’m hoping im not the only learner who has experienced this, and as such, hope you have some good advice for me.


Shwmae, Dan. That is pretty much exactly what I felt when I first started speaking in Welsh. Especially when I was speaking to experienced speakers, I was embarrassed of my ‘pidgin’ Welsh and terrified to use a word or pattern when I wasn’t entirely sure how it was used. But once I jumped into the deep end and started speaking regularly, that feeling faded and I gained the confidence to try out new patterns and words with my practice partners. From what I know of others’ experiences, I think this is very common. It’s just about pushing through it. The satisfaction you get when you use the language and you’re understood is immense. :smile:


Thanks Karla, As much as I know what your saying is true. I’m just finding it really hard to take that jump into the deep end. I know my partner isn’t going to care if i say something incorrectly and isn’t going to judge, but as much as I know that I still can’t do it.

Maybe getting some practice with another learner might help? You wouldn’t have the same pressure as when talking to a native speaker, and both of you would be making plenty of mistakes together. Then, once you’ve gotten the feel for having a real conversation you could try again with your partner.


If you didn’t experience it, you would probably be unique!!
It is hard with Cymraeg because I doubt if any speakers are left who don’t speak English (except perhaps the ones in Patagonia who speak Spanish!!). I started daring to speak French when I was the only one of a gang in Paris for the rugby who knew any!!
I was forced to try and found I got on fine!! The same happened in Italy when travelling with Aussie friends on holiday!! (I didn’t go there for rugby as it was still 5 nations back then!!).
You can’t be forced into it with your wife…unless she has a ‘No English on Fridays’ rule… or something like that!!
It seems a shame to practice with learners who will not be a realistic test when you have a real live Speaker there with you!!


You can’t be forced into it with your wife…unless she has a ‘No English on Fridays’ rule… or something like that!!

Thats a fantastic Idea.

Croeso! Hope it works!! :smiley:

I’m a language teacher and I assure you that absolutely EVERYONE experiences it. More than that, it’s a feeling that never really goes away entirely - even after almost 15 years of learning English I still feel self-conscious about my accent or some inaccuracies or mistakes. :frowning: I think the cause might be perfectionism which we (probably) all suffer from.
But, at the same time, when I hear someone speak Russian (my native language) I feel very happy that the person is at least trying to learn it, and I will try to help as much as I can. I won’t mind the mistakes and will never laugh at them. The only attitude that really annoys me is the arrogant presumption that everyone in the world has to know English and that one can be perfectly fine living in a country without saying a word of its native language. I’m sure most native speakers see it similarly. It’s a great pleasure to see that someone is taking the trouble to learn your language, and I’m sure no one is really bothered by your mistakes - they are a part of learning, actually, as Aran keeps reminding us, they speed up the learning process! So, I’m sure that your partner and most other speakers won’t mind your mistakes at all (actually, I’m not sure if it’s the same for Welsh, but I find that some mistakes that non-native Russian speakers make are quite endearing). And you can try to negotiate with your inner perfectionist by telling it that your mistakes are only making you better so it’s useless (and even damaging) worrying about them.
Also, my students find it helpful to get as much speaking practice as they can. Especially if you can have conversations about something that is really meaningful to you - your hobby or something you’re very passionate about - then the desire to speak and express yourself overcomes any fear you might have had.
Good luck!:slight_smile:


Jumping into the deep end is tough. Why not try to find a shallow end?..:sunny:

You could ask for someone on the forum to do a 5 minute swap on a weekly basis (you talk for 5 minutes in Welsh, the other person talks for 5 minutes in Welsh) - and then gradually build the time up - and then when you’re ready, ask your partner to do a 5 minute swap with you (a ‘swap’ is easier than conversation, because you don’t have the to-and-fro element) - and then gradually build up the time until you’re doing an hour a week… then an hour a day… :sunny:

1 Like

I have been learning Welsh for 5 years now and have a pretty good grasp of the language but I am still terrified of speaking it with my Welsh speaking friends. What I have found that definitely works for me, is that it’s not so terrifying speaking Welsh with someone with whom you have never spoken in English. I think that switching to a second language conversation in an established relationship changes the nature and the balance of the relationship and feels awkward for both speakers. But if you have always spoken in Welsh with someone, even pigeon Welsh, it’s much much easier because your relationship is formed around that.

My children go to a Welsh stream school and when their new headteacher started I spoke to her in Welsh from day one and it’s great. I have had such confidence from doing this it has really, really helped me. Perhaps there are some Welsh speaking friends of your wife that you haven’t met that could be your first Welsh-medium friendship?!

Good luck and of course, dal ati!


That’s a very good way of putting it. I’ve had a similar experience (not with Welsh as it happens).

1 Like

Shw mae Dan.

People before me said everything but still …

You have a parthner who is a fluent Welsh speaker what is huge advantage! Didn’t you want always do things together? Here’s your chance! Forget she’s a fluent Welsh speaker but DO REMEMBER she’s your parthner who will always be by your side no matter what you do especially if the things are as you said, that she will never judge and will be supportive. Use that advantage, do things together in Cymraeg, whatever you do, wherever you go, just occassionally, for a minute if not more. Put Cymraeg word into English sentence, next time there would be 2, then 3, then the whole sentence, then whole conversation. Maybe she would suggest to you by herself to do a little conversation in Cymraeg, just to practice. You aren’t even aware what advantage you have, use it! Go for it and if you’re a perfectionist, then one advise from another perfectionist - ban that perfectionist in you, little by little. You’ll need huge amount of patience, stubbornity to prevail it, a huge amount of support from other people (I’ve got it plenty and DIOLCH YN FAWR IAWN IAWN I CHI BAWB!) which you’ll always find on this highly friendly forum and in your parthner (I have no doubt) and you’ll slowly notice that mistakes are not that much important anymore, that you can learn from them and most important you can speak and talk with almost everyone who is willing to talk in Cymraeg with you.

Go for it and you’ll be surprised what you can acheave - no - what you will acheave!

Pob lwc ac dal ati!


I know exactly how you feel, I haven’t had huge success myself when I’ve tried saying something to a native speaker. I feel that I know so much more than I can actually come up with in the (very) limited exchange! However, on each attempt (on hols in Ynys Môn) I have been greeted with genuine delight that I am a learner, and it reinforces my determination to keep going. I can only get better! Dal ati!


Diolch yn fawr pawb! for your support and advice. I’ve become a little annoyed at myself that I haven’t seen or taken advantage of the opportunities I have to practice Welsh and decided to take the bull by the horns.

My partner and I will be having a ‘‘no English’’ evening tonight. I breezed through lesson 7 this morning so feeling pretty good about it all.

I will let you all know how it goes tomorrow. :smile:


Oh yes, please do! I’m really curious how it will go but I have no doubt it will be great! (I intentionally didn’t say perfect …)


I too am eagerly waiting to hear!!
p.s. do you have plant? If they are in ysgol Cymraeg, what do you speak with them? If they speak English… do please try to at least offer them some Cymraeg or they’ll be like you (and me) now!!!


No we don’t have any children. We still haven’t got to the stage of moving in together yet. If in the future we got to a stage of having children then I would suspect we’d send them to a welsh speaking school yes.


That’d get you fluent pretty quickly!! Reading bedtime stories as well as just talking!! Simple vocabulary, but much repetition… the SSiW way!!! Oh, how do you get on with S4C??

If i’m honest I haven’t watched much of S4C. I do listen to Radio Cymru to and from work and can get a sens of whats being said, but not in great detail. I’ve only just started the SSiW listen exercises and find it really hard to listen and NOT translate what i hear.

That’s okay - don’t worry about it - just listen, and let it flow, and don’t worry about how you’re reacting to it… :sunny: