Hello, please can anyone encourage a fairly new learner by telling me about your first real conversations in welsh?
I am on challenge 12, level 1, southern at the moment. My husband and daughter haven’t done quite so much yet, though we can use a few phrases around the house. I had a rush of enthusiasm a few weeks ago and contacted more advanced learners and welsh speakers whom I know, and asked if they would be willing to have a chat with me to help me with my welsh. Of course they all said they would be delighted to help, lovely people that they are, but I am having trouble pushing myself to take them up on it now! I tried one Skype call and managed to chat a bit.
I am confident that I can say lots of things I need to say like ‘I can’t remember how to say what I want to say’, but I can’t think of much else I can say. I know I understand more than I can say which is normal for learners. I can remember from the special lesson in the old course to ask “tiin yown?” and “shw mar gwaith?” (Please excuse my spelling, I’ve not really started reading/writing yet.) Is that enough to get into real conversations? Do I just need to get over myself and dive in, accepting that it’s always going to be uncomfortable starting out speaking another language? Or would it be better to try to prepare some more detailed things that I could say?
How were your first real conversations in welsh? Did you find it easier to practice with other learners of SSiw first? Any advice?
My first conversations were, well, monologues to be honest. I bravely ventured into Saith Seren and shook like a leaf.
That was 8 months ago. I’ve been learning for ten now.
Personally i find it easier with people who have done SSIW. Common vocabulary etc. But the important thing is practice. There will be many times you think you don’t understand much. In reality you will hear familiar things and recognise lots but not quite piece things together.
Don’t worry. All will improve and you’ll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.
At this stage, what you really want (more than actual conversation) is the opportunity to try and make up phrases in Welsh from what you’ve learnt - on our 5 day intensives, we call this the Language Lego Game - the point being that you’re trying to build something from what you’ve learnt, instead of trying to have a ‘conversation’.
Kind-hearted Welsh speakers or advanced learners who are willing to give you 5 (and then 10 later on, etc) minutes per week to do this would be worth their weight in gold to you - just make sure they understand what you’re trying to do at this point.
You could also supplement with mini-conversations on the understanding that you’ll stop whenever you get to the point where you can’t say what you want to say - and then make a note of what it was, figure out (with their help or on here) how to say it in Welsh, and then spend a little time practising it before your next mini-conversation…
The key thing here, though, is that your willingness to jump in with real speakers at this early stage is a fantastic sign that you’re going to achieve real success…
Thanks Aran. Great. I think if it’s not a bad idea I might look at the vocab from all the challenges so far and print out the english of all the words I already know, and that will help me play Language Lego.
One very good exercise is to cycle through different sets of items to include in a lego sentence - eg choose one of I/you/he/she/etc, one of roedd/wedi/present/bydd, one of question/not question, one of negative/not negative - and then put them all together…
Sorry for blowing my own trumpet and for another Ssiw plug but just bought some books in Siop Y Siswrn yn Yr Wyddgrug.
I was asked if i needed help to which i replied i was ok, then after choosing some book a chat in welsh when i was paying. i had to mention ssiw as usual. Of course after i recognised a few mistakes eg saying x lefelau instead of x lefel but i was told i was doing yn arbennig o dda. And not one word of english!
So the point? Well i remember bottling many a conversation. Today i didn’t. So keep trying.
I think that depends on how long a discourse has to last to be counted as a conversation! My first exchange with a native Welsh speaker (outside of the intensive course) consisted of
'do you want a cup of tea?
With milk and sugar?
Milk, no sugar please…thanks
I have since spoken to my Aunt (1st language speaker) in Welsh on the phone (which was my goal at the start of the intensive course). She asked how the course is and did I speak Welsh now, so I said that I speak Welsh a little bit now. She asked if I enjoyed the course and I said I had a good time. Then I told her that my son now likes reading books in welsh. She asked if he read them with me and I said that he did.
Each small conversation still feels like a massive achievement!
However much we try to make sure that the learning process itself is tough and stressful enough to prepare you for real conversation (eg accelerated listening etc), nothing can ever be as challenging as engaging in realtime talk with a live human - and every time you go swimming in the deep end, you get significantly better (if you’ve done the right prep work, which you have)
I would say that playing language lego and talking to yourself is the best mainstay at the beginning. Also Skype with people at a similar stage is great practice and not too scary. (Or is equally scary for both of you!)
It is brilliant if you can try and have small exchanges with first language speakers fairly regularly - especially if you have a tame one! Prepare a few things you can say and see if you can get them in. But don’t expect it always to go to plan - it’s all part of the game!
From your stage onwards, I used to force myself to pay for the kids’ welsh language swimming class every term in Welsh. That was proper scary the first time! But it turned into an interesting gauge of progress. Now it’s fairly satisfying to look back on the stress and embarrassment levels gradually decreasing over the last 3 years or so…
Helo, the best advice I can give is just “Amdani” - go for it. As I live in Weston-Super-Mare it’s been difficult for me to find someone local to practice my welsh with (don’t fancy Skype at all). I was very lucky recently that a chap who visits Weston occasionally contacted me via an ad I placed in the local paper. When we first met (in January) for coffi a sgwrs Cymraeg it was brilliant, a real ‘shot in the arm’ for me and massive confidence boost. I was really nervous and full of self doubt beforehand but was so glad i dived in to this meeting afterwards. When i sais I’d been learning for about 14 months he thought i meant 14 years! I also visit friends in North Wales every 6 months or so, met a bunch of ‘gogs’ on a cruise last year and I find that everyone so far is really patient, helpful and supportive of my efforts.
As I say ‘Amdani’. You won’t regret it. Saysomethinginwelsh + ymarfer is the way to go.
All the very best. Pob lwc!
Good news: My work today consisted of carrying out some tests for a road resurfacing gang near Lampeter. It turned out that some of the team members were local Welsh speakers, although they were all speaking English.
During a conversation with one of the men, I managed to switch into Welsh for a couple of sentences. It wasn’t anything too earth shattering, but the first time that I have spoken to someone that I don’t really know. I struggled slightly, as he wasn’t using textbook Welsh, however, SSiW had prepared me to expect this. On the other hand, as I was trying to keep within my comfort zone, some of the stuff that I came out with seemed a bit basic and was met with a polite smile. It all ended pleasantly as he bed me a fond “tarah”. I think it needs to be level 3 stuff next time though, with hopefully some convincing banter relating to road construction
Well done everyone who’s using their welsh ‘in the wild’, I am so impressed, I can’t wait to get to that stage. And big thanks for sharing your struggles. Inspiring! Just need to press on with my practicing, I will get there.
I don’t want to over-egg what happened. When I mentioned that I said a couple of sentences, it literally was that: two. I’m sure that any of you could have done as well as my tentative officering. Having said that, I’m so relieved/encouraged that I although I was totally unprepared for the occasion, I didn’t chicken out, even though it was only a step up from talking with Welsh speaking friends.
I would like to encourage everyone else to give it a go, and hopefully my own next attempt will be more impressive