I went to a group for Welsh learners again tonight. I psyched myself up all day but as soon as I got there my mind went blank again. How do I stop this happening?
I sat next to someone who had being doing Duolingo for only 2 years, and was leagues ahead of me. Why aren’t I where I should be?
I do the SSiW listening exercises every single day but I don’t seem to be getting any better at understanding what is said to me. Or forming sentences! My mind just goes blank and I can’t even remember the simplest thing like ‘allet ti ddweud e eto?’.
How do you all get the confidence and skill level? Learning Welsh just has never been that enjoyable for me- it’s only been an uphill struggle!
I’ve had similar experiences going to Welsh learners meetups to find that everyone is more advanced and I can’t keep up at all.
I think first of all, there is no “where I should be,” people learn things at different paces, and people have more or less time to dedicate to learning/studying, some learners have people they can practice with on a consistent basis, some don’t.
As far as meet up groups go, my thinking was I’m just going to try to start a meetup group and specifically try to advertise it to intro/foundation level learners, and organize it more the way I’d prefer a learners chat meetup would go. I don’t know if it’ll work but I figure it’s worth a shot.
Pleasw do feel frre to be where you are now any kind group will accept your difficulties and resprct that you wish to listen for a while. I have been to groups online and im person for four months until just last week i felt confident to throw in a jumble of welsh words thay seemed to make sense to a few people ptesent. I tell you somethi g it is a different experience using a language when every one i. The room is a perfect speaker of your first language - if English is indeed your first language. It’s a strange feeling if i threw chaotic bits of a other languages at people in their country i was very happy to overcome embarassment and feeling ignorant but it has taken me ages to feel that in Wales and all of my welsh group habe the same firat language as me. What I foind hard to understand at first was that they weren’t speaking welsh perfectly at all - and who are these mythical perfect speakers in any language !
I think everybody has experienced that sort of panic at least once! A couple of thoughts from me (and please excuse me if these have been suggested/tried already…)
First up, are you speaking the answers out loud when you’re going through the lessons? Sorry if that seems like a stupid question, but I’ve read quite a few people say “I’ve listened to it lots of times”, when listening to it won’t help you - the act of speaking it out loud is what cements it in your brain.
If you think of some phrases ahead of time that could be helpful to you (like the “allet ti ddweud…” one above) could you write the first word or two down - if you’ve been producing them OK for the app, sometimes getting the first word or two out is all you need to encourage the rest to follow. Or “Dw i ddim yn gwybod dim byd am bel-droed” (I’m with you on that one…)
Lastly, is jumping into a group situation perhaps a bit too daunting (with the thought of all these people looking at you when you’re speaking)? Could you get the opportunity to do a bit of one-on-one with a fellow learner first, just to get a bit more comfortable speaking with others rather than on your own?
I agree with Sara that jumping into an established group is not easy. Have you tried chatting one-to-one online? If you’re not following the structured SSiW course which should be providing conversation opportunities, there is the Welsh Speaking Slack which might be better for you until you get more confident.
I’m a member of an established chat group and I hope we do make new learners welcome, though it isn’t always easy as we want to discuss the latest things going on in the town, or things in the news.
In addition to the SSiW listening exercises, are you listening to Welsh on the radio or the weekly BBC Radio Cymru Pigion podcast for learners? Lots and lots of listening practise will help you follow a conversation.
Yeah, retired people often seem to make up the majority of learners. Fair play to them, but I wish I had the same time commitment.
That sounds like a really good idea. I’m still puzzled why fluent and native speakers make up the majority of these groups, especially those who don’t seem keen to interact with learners in an encouraging way.
Once I get broadband set up in my new house I will have to force myself to use Slack- I think I’m a member still.
I used to listen to Radio Cymru and could follow along quite well (maybe the audio quality and enunciation are easier for learners when it’s radio-trained professionals!) but got out of the habit. I didn’t know there was a podcast for learners specifically. Thanks, I’ll look into that.
I think (and this isn’t a criticism, just an idea) that Welsh chat groups maybe need to be more honest with themselves and NOT advertise ‘everyone welcome’ when it would be more appropriate to keep it to a group of established, fluent friends. It’s a credit to you that many groups do say learners welcome of all levels, but maybe does more harm than good for some.
Sympathy to you @Snufkinsbf I struggle a lot too (especially if I run into groups that want to talk about football and pop music, but then I’d struggle with that in English too!)
In the past, I’ve found that paying for a few one-to-one private lessons has been a big confidence boost and really lifted my level of Welsh. They’re less eye-wateringly expensive than you’d think. I managed to pay for them as a library assistant!
Because the other person is a tutor, you feel less self-conscious and worried about making mistakes. Plus, you have the breathing space to thread your knowledge together and really start internalising the patterns.
I think that’s a fair point. Maybe there’s a distinction to be made between groups of learners and groups for learners? The former being chat groups which, while still being open to new learners, effectively expect them to get up to speed on their own.
Chat groups for learners would keep in mind the oft repeated assertion that it’s everyone’s responsibility to use and to encourage use of the language. So, as well as the important social aspect, everyone in the group takes on the responsibility of trying to bring newcomers into the conversation, with each new member being potentially one more to be added that target of 1 million speakers.
I wonder what the thinking of @rob-evans-1 (he produces the newsletter Y Wennol for learners) is around this problem?
Apart from the other good advice here, do you do any reading outside the course at all?
I ask because for many people (me, for example) writing is easier to understand than speech, because you have time to puzzle out what’s being said. It’s not a substitute for SSIW, of course, but I find it does help to piece together things which aren’t always obvious from just listening to people and every time you do that, your confidence builds a little.
There are plenty of good books now for all stages of learning, and they often come with vocabulary on the page. I started with Cwm Gwrachod by Colin Jones, for example, after I’d been learning for a couple of months. This one is helpful because each chapter is preceded by a short summary of the grammar in English, with more introduced with each new chapter.
Helo. Sam dw i. Dw i’n hoffi rhedeg, nofio a gwylio’r teledu. Ond nid ar yr un pryd. Dw i’n hoffi bwyta siocled, creison a sglodion. Ond eto, nid ar yr un pryd. Mae un brawd gyda fi, Tom, ac un chwaer, Helen. Mae Tom yn boncyrs. Mae Helen yn neis. Mae hi’n hoffi doliau. A phinc.
(Jones, Colin. Cwm Gwrachod: A novel for Welsh learners (Welsh Edition) (p. 5). UNKNOWN. Kindle Edition. )
(The footnotes explain the vocab.)
Of course, this particular book may not be suitable for you, but others may be, and I find that anything which builds my confidence and knowledge (even a little bit) in one form of Welsh helps with the others.
Yes, exactly. that’s really fleshed out what I was trying to say! I like to think that most of us learners recognise that not all Welsh speakers want/have time for helping us all the time, so a bit more of a division in places may help, even though it sounds like making more of a gap between speakers and learners, this might be helpful early on in the learning process.
I used to read some of those books for learners, as well as having a subscription to the ‘Lingo Newydd’ magazine. I remember feeling a sense of achievement that if understood lots- like you say it’s a kind of snowball effect with little wins adding to your confidence and that in turn giving you more confidence… But in my case, and especially when it comes to speaking, having those wins in the first place can be hard!
I think part of the reason [excuse] I stopped reading was just a lack of enjoyment in the learning process- I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever enjoyed SSiW either, feels more of an obligation.
Here’s the link to the page on the BBC website. You can listen on the page or download the MP3 file to listen on your phone or however you listen to digital music.
They usually choose a variety of interesting clips and they make sure that the speakers can be heard OK. They avoid people who are phoning in to chat on a mobile phone with a weak signal, which is what you can get if you’re listening to live radio.
In addition to all the suggestions above, I will just add that what helped me was to speak Welsh to myself as I was just going around doing normal things. Like doing a running commentary of what was happening or what I was seeing. If possible, actually speak aloud, but otherwise think the phrases silently. One thing this is very useful for is revealing gaps in your vocabulary so you know to look up and learn the word you wanted to use.
Joshua, congratulations on deciding to learn Welsh, I did so 25 plus years ago and have never regretted it. Noticed you were wearing an IWW badge. I am in the same ball park politically, would love to meet you ( at the Eisteddfod?) for a chat / sgwrs. Pob hwyl Jonathan